Nightingale

Nightingale - Andrea Bramhall The one thing that has consistently distinguished BSB releases over others in this genre is their bold, attention-grabbing covers. And this one is no exception. Happily, the rest of the book doesn't disappoint either. :)

Hazaar is every man (and woman's) dream. She is beautiful, smart, talented, vivacious, and full of life. She is also gay. Her parents are devout Pakistani traditionalists, so the prospect of a marriage to a good, Muslim husband hangs over her future like damocles' sword. Higher education has so far been a successful excuse to delay the inevitable, and one day perhaps...fame and a doctorate degree might just allow her to fly free. But a cruel twist of Fate and some well-meaning but horrible decisions throw this poor nightingale into a brutal cage.

Hazaar's love Charlie refuses to give up, following her into hell in the hopes of someday reuniting them, however remote that possibility is. What are the odds that Fate would one day dangle that chance in front of her, yet be cruel enough to snatch it all away...again.

This is the author's third, and best book to date.

The timeline switches back and forth from the present to the past in alternate chapters, making for a fast-paced page-turner from start to finish. This style works well for the most part especially the first half of the book, when the good old times contrasted sharply with present. But the constant switching continues throughout the book, and I think it would have even been more tense and suspenseful had it gone linear at some point. There are a couple of times when the tension and build-up got diffused or completely fizzled out by switching back to the other timeline. This is just a minor issue though.

More importantly, I love how the author balances all the elements that make for a thoroughly enjoyable read. Characters you can fall in love with, a plot that grips you from the first chapter and doesn't let you go till the last, supporting characters that aren't caricatures, realistic plotting and believable character development (e.g. Charlie). The horrors that Hazaar experiences mirror those that we read about in the news. But it is interesting that the author doesn't vilify the culture or the religion. Instead she shows how people actually bend and abuse these traditions to further their own interests and agendas. Her portrayal of the British embassy team that deals with these problems also show a deep understanding of the complex familial and legal issues involved.

I wished the book were a bit longer though--an additional 50-100 pages maybe. I would have loved to read more about Hazaar's POV. There were some important periods in her life that were skipped. Also the aftermath could have been mined for a bit more drama. These aren't issues--just a personal wishlist.

I'm still giving 5 stars!