Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Book CoverSandy M’s review of Behind the Curtain by Beth Kery
Contemporary Romance published by Berkley 2 May 17

I hate to admit that I haven’t read as many Beth Kery books in the last couple of years as I did before. This eventually happens with a lot of authors for me – I get distracted by a new series, saying I’ll go back to the one I interrupted, but for whatever reason in life I don’t. While I may have missed a few of Ms. Kery’s books over those years, I’m thinking it may have been for the best. Mostly because I see a huge difference in her writing now with her last few books. She’s definitely grown as a writer, her books have a deeper emotional impact and her characters are more real, as are their heart-wrenching stories, at least for me.

Asher and Laila come from two different worlds in this melting pot we call America. He’s from a wealthy and snobbish family, while she’s the product of a closely knit Moroccan-American family. Asher is bent on making his own way to his future, not relying on the ready-made job his father has waiting for him. Laila is a few years younger and just isn’t up to the task of defying her parents completely during the summer she and Asher discover love with each other. She’s willing to go only so far with her secrets from her family, and once those secrets are revealed, the young lovers part and take with them the resulting memories, anger, and hurt.

Now years later, when Asher is back in his hometown before starting a new assignment, after covering a multitude of heartbreaking stories in the Middle East – and learning what he can about Morocco – he’s taken with the new singing sensation in town. The beautiful voice behind the curtain draws him in, and it’s one of those hair-raising moments when he wants to believe this might be Laila, but what are the chances. They’re very good, actually. As they meet for the first time after so many years, it’s clear their feelings for one another have been harbored deep and now rise to the surface.

Most of the book covers that idyllic summer when Asher and Laila discover each other, do everything they can to spend time together before Asher leaves on his next overseas assignment. He’s a raw and intense young man, knows what he wants and goes after it, no matter what. Thus the reason his relationship with his parents is on the rocks 95% of the time. I do like, however, how he dials himself back when it comes to Laila. He’s still intense for a 22-year-old, but he realizes while she wants just what he does, she’s younger and naive about life, having been sheltered and protected by her family. Her respect for her parents is ingrained deep within her, and when she has to choose at the end of the summer, that decision was predestined.

While reading, I kept thinking I wanted more of Asher and Laila after they reunite. I like older characters in romance, so I was a bit impatient at times to get to them in the present. However, Ms. Kery knows her stuff and gave me those older characters who are much more intriguing, packed the pages full of them and made it count in those few chapters left in the book. Asher’s intensity is still evident but seems doubled and his iron control over it is a wonderfully new characteristic. Laila has also come into her own, taking the path she desires her life to go, thanks to Asher and those long-ago summer days. She’s learned what she wants also, though the respect for her family is still front and center. Learning to balance those in her life has given her everything. But will she have to make another devastating life-changing decision when it comes to Asher again?

If you’ve not read Beth Kery, start here. Or with her romantic serial Make Me. Or Looking Inside. Her earlier books are very good, but these latest books are, for me, the new Beth Kery and quite exceptional.

sandym-iconGrade: B


There’s something about this woman…

On a break between overseas jobs, journalist Asher Gaites returns to his hometown of Chicago—and allows his friends to persuade him to check out a hot new singer. At a downtown jazz club, he’s soon transfixed by the lyrical voice and sensuous body of a woman who performs behind a thin, shimmering veil…

…That could bring a man to his knees.

The veil gives Moroccan-American Laila Barek the anonymity she needs since she has never been able to reconcile her family’s values with her passion for music. But one man is inexplicably drawn to her. And when Asher confronts her on a subway platform after a gig, he’s shocked to recognize the woman who walked away from him nine years ago…

Laila has never been able to forget the touch, the feel, the taste of Asher. And despite the doubt and fear that wind their way into their lives, they must trust the heat of their desire to burn down the walls the world has placed between them…

No excerpt available.