FICTION

Forbidden by Faith

City Owl. (Forbidden Love, Bk. 1). Feb. 2018. 330p. ISBN 9781944728700. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781944728717. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
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Sara's immediate physical attraction to Maziar is dampened when she learns that even though they're both Iranian American, he is Jewish, and while not religiously observant, her family is Muslim. Sara fears their religions will spell trouble as neither family will accept the relationship. Maziar, however, will not give up that easily, even after Sara's worst fears come to pass. Despite religious differences being the main obstacle, Papehn fails to explore what those differences actually are. Little mention is made of Muslim religious life, and Jewishness is limited to a drama-laden Hanukkah party. Told exclusively from Sara's point of view, the book never makes it clear why Sara loves Maziar so much except that she keeps saying she does. The story evolves over four years, with large amounts of time neatly summarized, robbing readers of genuine character and relationship development.
VERDICT Clunky prose, poor pacing, and overnarration bog down what could have been an intriguing story.

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