Hajar's Hidden Legacy by Maisey Yates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hajar's Hidden Legacy is a book for fans of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. It plays out a lot like that much-loved story, although that is not to say there is no innovation or unique touch here. Maisey Yates careful touch with writing romance and the manner in which she builds a layered, emotional story is evident here. Her characters are real life, both struggling with emotional wounds from their past.
Zahir is a tough nut to crack. He doesn't want to be married to Katharine, and he definitely doesn't want to love her. He's afraid to let her in, and he is unable to let go of his guilt about surviving the attacks against his family. He hates himself, and that is very evident. He also fears his life is over. He exists because he must protect his country. But he is in a world of pain. At first, I wondered why if he thought his scars were so hideous, he didn't get plastic surgery. I came to realize that his disgust with his appearance was more about his disgust about how he survived when his parents and brother didn't. He felt like he was the unworthy one who lived. His truly believes he is unable to heal emotionally. He is like a lion with a thorn in his paw, and that requires some real nurturing and persistence from Katharine. Katharine was just the heroine to soothe his savage breast.
While Zahir has the bulk of torment, I liked that Katharine had her own angst to deal with. She was dismissed, sidelined, and marginalized by her father. He truly does not value her, and he shows it. But she craves his approval and moves mountains to get it. I loved how Zahir stood up for Katharine to her father. I also loved how Zahir helps to validate Katharine and build up her self-esteem, despite his own struggles.
Yates carefully builds the tension, both romantic and sensual. The love scenes are quite steamy, but it's very natural to the story. You can see that the connection between Zahir and Katharine has entwined itself between them on many levels. Before they both know it, their match is very much one of love and devotion, as well as a marriage of state. Their mutual fears of not being enough are assuaged by the fact that they are just what each other needs.
Hajar's Hidden Legacy is very much a novel about the healing of emotional wounds and the development of love between two hurting people. It lacks the drama of some book in this category series. Instead, it's more of an introspective novel about the development of a relationship that turns into a deep love between two people who weren't even looking for love, but needed it the whole time.
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