Desert Jewel – Natalina Reis

Rebellion brews inside Milenda’s heart as the date for the Trials approaches. As the heiress to the throne of Natale, she is forced to choose a consort from the survivors of the grueling quest across the desert.

Milenda’s heart belongs to Jaali and wants no part in the ancient and cruel ritual, but the Elders—the true rulers of Natale—will not back down.

Jaali was brought from the far North as a child slave. His only chance to be with the woman he loves is to volunteer for the Trials, no matter how dangerous or how much Milenda objects.

Together they begin their journey of discovery and rebellion against the Elders. But will their love be enough or will they lose everything they’ve fought for? – Goodreads.com

I received this book free from the publisher via netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

This novel was the perfect mix between adventure, romance and magical realism.

There was a little bit of Mills and Boon, a little bit of Hunger Games and a whole lot of trauma, conflict and love. I would have liked to have seen a bit more from Jaali’s point of view, especially on his trials, but as the novel is mostly from Milenda’s view, it makes sense that we mostly only visit him in relation to her.

The world building was pretty cool. The story is set in Africa, so there is a whole lot of beautiful culture and mythology to keep you entertained.

A really fun read – though I will say now that if you are sensitive to themes of violence and sexual assault, please go into this novel carefully or not at all as it is a prevailing theme, though it is handled quite well.

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