This book really drew me in from the beginning. The cover was enticing, I really liked that the model was looking away from the reader, the font of the title was pretty, as was the detailing around the spine of the book. It started off right at Jayden's betrothal ceremony and right away, it showed how important the art of dancing was to their culture. It was described wonderfully so I could imagine each dancer doing their own moves.
Jayden, the main character, I really liked. At times she could be judgmental toward other cultures that she'd been warned of, but with all the stories she'd been raised on it made sense that she'd be wary of them. She really showed how even strong women, in circumstances back then, could be made helpless, sometimes nothing more than a bargaining chip to secure wealth through union. Jayden was strong. She loved her family and would do anything to keep them safe, she could think for herself instead of blindly following the orders of the men, she was determined to save herself.
The setting was beautiful but also so dangerous, especially for single or small groups of travelers. There wasn't a whole lot of action in the book, it was more about Jayden's journey of strength and the romance, but there was always that lingering danger, the feeling that something could happen at any time and knowing something would eventually happen.
I enjoyed the romance, Jayden had chemistry with Kadesh, and the fact that it was forbidden made all their little moments all that more tense and dangerous. It did seem to happen a little fast but it was also something I could understand given Jayden's circumstances. Horeb was cruel and she despised him while Kadesh was sweet and gentle and wanted to keep her safe.
My favorite bond though, was that of the sisters and Jayden and her grandmother. Leila was everything Jayden was not and they often disagreed but they truly cared for each other. Her grandmother was a great example of someone Jayden could one day become, a strong woman with a mind of her own who won't blindly do a man's bidding.
There's quite a long wait until the next book, January 2016, more than a year away but since I originally thought this was a standalone, I can be patient as long as we get more Jayden and Kadesh.