Review: Svetkavista

by Kayleigh Jamison

Trapped within a life where she has always been an outsider, Karina dutifully follows the wishes of her father by day, and secretly pursues her dreams by night. Raised within the strict, patriarchal society of the Rom at a time when discrimination and fear are at their peak, she is forced to hide both her love of music and her passion for those who encourage her dreams.

She seeks comfort in the arms of her dearest friend and mentor, who shows her that love and lust rarely confine themselves to the ill-conceived notions of normalcy.

When a lie, spoken in a moment of desperation, threatens to shatter everything Karina holds dear, she must choose between those she loves and her own reputation. Will the truth set her free or destroy her? Does she have the courage to follow her own heart?

Set among a band of gypsies in eighteenth century Hungary, Svetkavista is not your typical historical romance.

Karina is difficult to describe because she has so much going on and experiences rather sweeping personal growth from beginning to end. An easy thing to recognize about her, however, was that I loved her passion, which is evident throughout. I could feel it in her dancing, her love for both Papusza and Brishen and her search for the truth; she plunges into each with a zeal I could respect and admire.

I wasn’t sure at first how I felt about Karina’s long-time friend turned lover, Papusza. She came off as subtly manipulative and her jealousy is apparent as well. Karina is willing to risk her relationship with Brishen to continue her relationship with Papusza which ends up causing a lot more trouble than she could have anticipated. The turn of events set in motion by Papusza cause dire consequences for Brishen and I saw her actions as a bit selfish. Even though the situation is complicated and she has some reasonable justification for doing what she does, I still didn’t like it! But she does redeem herself with a realism that caused my overall opinion of her to change for the better because I was able to see the growth of her character, inspired by her love for Karina.

Brishen is such a romantic character; I warmed to him right away. He teases, entices and claims Karina with such charisma and the realism of his affection for Karina leaps off the page. I was amazed at the depth of emotion that comes through as he plays his violin, especially when it is for her. For me, his devotion to Karina and his desire to protect her — at great cost to himself — secured his label as an irresistible hero.

The intimate scenes are explicit yet sensual and the way the three of them are maneuvered together is rousingly seductive. The chemistry between Brishen and Karina is breathtaking and I was forced to fan myself more than once. I don’t hesitate to recommend this complex story; it thrilled me with its involved plot lines and kept me reading late into the night.


Review by Chamomile

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