Book Review: Once Upon A [Stolen] Time by Samreen Ahsan

We are once again delighted to post our review  of the first book in the new series written by Samreen Ahsan. The book is yet to be published and is currently available for pre-order. We received a complementary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Her first series was the Prayer series which is already reviewed on redpillows.

About the Book:

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2015…

All her life, Myra Farrow has been obsessed with medieval castles—and the kings and princes who once inhabited them. Now, wealthy videogame designer Steve Bernard wants her to model for a princess character in his new game. Myra can’t resist his offer, especially when she learns that Steve plans to film inside the mysterious Hue Castle—a cursed, barren, colorless place forbidden to visitors for centuries. But unknown to Myra, her soul is bound to Hue Castle by blood and sorcery. When she enters its doors, she awakens dark powers that will reach through time—stealing her past, torturing her present, and rewriting her future.

1415…

Edward Hue, the last of the Hue royal bloodline, has never stood in the sunshine or held a living flower. Cursed from birth to live in darkness and bring death to all he touches, he is at the mercy of his cruel, tyrannical father, who will not rest until he shatters Edward’s soul and makes his son into a diabolical copy of himself. Edward’s one hope is the mysterious woman who haunts his dreams—who will either break his curse and bring him out of the darkness, or destroy him utterly.

For Myra and Edward, past and future collide in a tale of love, obsession, betrayal, and the hope for redemption.

My Thoughts:

This story is a romantic fairytale where the author will take the reader on a magical ride. The story follows Myra and Edward, and how their lives intersect. Myra lives in the present day world but is lost in her dreams of princes and kings and kingdoms. She loves everything to do with history and castles and their stories. Edward on the other hand, exists in the 15th century and has grown up seeing a particular woman in his dreams. His story is quite different, he is a prince and the next in line for the throne.

The author weaves a wonderful plot as we are shown the worlds of the two characters, the people who inhabit them, and their destinies which lie in each other. The supporting cast or characters are well developed and add much flavour to the story. However, there are a few times when the story does seem a little unbelievable, but if you put that aside and just fall into the world of magic and fairytales, you’ll realise that anything is possible.

The story is well written, the dialogue interesting and the descriptions precise enough that the reader can easily create an image of the scenes and settings in their minds. The story does justice to the theme of fairytales and has a good amount of fantasy in it that holds it strong. The fact that it is filled with romance adds further to the beauty of the book and the ending is a cliff-hanger which will ensure that the reader is left craving for the more.

Overall, this is a great read for all those who love romance and who do believe in fairytales. Do keep the magic alive by reading and enjoying this book as much as I did.

In conversation with Samreen Ahsan

After reviewing both her books, A Silent Prayer and A Prayer Heeded, I have gotten this opportunity to have a small conversation with the woman behind these wonderful books, Samreen Ahsan. Read on to know what she says. Feel free to share your thoughts on the books written by the author.

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1)      What inspired you to start writing?

The story is inspired from Holy Quran—the concept of Jinn is mentioned in it very beautifully. Plus my city, Toronto, where the main plot is set. This has already been answered under acknowledgement section as well (in the book)

2)      Tell the readers a little about yourself.

I’m an IT consultant by profession doing a typical nine-to-five job. Mother of two beautiful daughters and happily married to love of my life.

3)      What is your favourite genre?

Romance (that’s it)

4)      Which is your favourite book?

That’s a long list if I start counting them from age 11 as that was the time when I started reading romance.

5)      Who is your favourite author?

Sydney Sheldon, Dan Brown, John Grisham, Khalid Hosseini (although their books aren’t solely romance) but they are truly an inspiration as I’ve started my love of books with their books.

6)      What are your hobbies?

Reading—and nothing else. I’m a very boring person.

7)      Perfect holiday destination?

Somewhere I can relax, read, and spend time with my family. Could be anywhere as far as my family is with me.

8)      Describe a perfect writing day.

When kids and husband are asleep 😉 This usually happens late night.

9)      Which is the best part of writing a story?

You get to “read” a lot and then learn a lot.

10)   How much inspiration do you draw on from real life experiences, with respect to plot, characters etc?

I took out a lot of inspiration from the places I’ve visited or like to visit. For the characters, they are purely fictional, no inspiration. (I haven’t met any Jinni or handsome rich billionaire)

11)   Who among the characters you created do you like the most and why?

Rania’s best friend, Mike. He’s always been sincere to her.

12)   How much do you relate to the characters or incidents in your story?

The characters do not relate to anyone; they’re purely fictional. Yes, the places and Holiday season has a lot of influence because I love Christmas and that time of the year.

13)   What kind of impact do your stories have on you?

Nothing. I create the stories for others. The creator shouldn’t be impacted

A Prayer Series by Samreen Ahsan

About the Books:

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Adam Gibson is a young and powerful Toronto millionaire. Despite his many blessings, he is an atheist, though he has an altruistic soul. He denies there is a God—until he meets a beautiful stranger in a place that does not exist for anyone but him.

Rania Ahmed strongly believes in God, but has lost hope she will ever find her soul mate. Endowed with hypnotic beauty and cursed by a brutal past, Rania has no idea she has cast a spell on Adam, who has never received more from a woman than physical pleasure. As Adam slowly discovers the true meaning of love from Rania, he begins to face his demons and reconsider his beliefs. He learns to love, forgive and repent. But as Adam grows closer to Rania, a series of strange, unexplained events threatens to drive them apart. To keep her from being destroyed by her past, he must persuade her to trust him with her deepest secrets.

In this spiritual romance, an atheist embarks on a path of enlightenment with a tormented soul who may just have the power to change everything he has ever believed to be true.

 

My Thoughts:

This series is a most compelling read. Once started, it is difficult to put down even for a second. A story of love and religion and belief, this series is full of twists. Set against the backdrop of the modern day, the reader is drawn into a story with supernatural  occurrences and strong beliefs. The protagonist, Rania is a strong believer in God and assumes that everything that happens is for a reason. She believes that all you need to do is have faith and pray and that at some point God will answer those prayers. Adam on the other hand is the true definition of an atheist. His experiences since childhood have moulded him that way and rendered him heartless.

Rania brings faith into his life as he learns to love and face his demons. The reader is given insights into the Islamic culture but the overall message is the same, have faith and believe. Rania on the other hand learns to trust Adam and allows him to slowly break through her defenses. Every situation in this story is a result of some circumstance or someone’s reactions. A lot of insight is given into each of the characters in this story and they are built up well.

Rania and Adam develop a relationship and as it progresses, she learns to trust him enough to share her secrets and he learns to be patient. Being a very wealthy man, Adam tries to shower Rania with gifts but all she wants is his heart and soul. This story focuses on how each character is ultimately forced to face their demons and come to terms with their relationships, be it Adam with his mother or Rania with her father. Some amount of supernatural existence is brought into the story with demons and angels and jinn as explained by Rania. The author shows us that there is more to religion than just blind faith. There is a lot of understanding and patience as well as some amount of trust. Everything happens for a reason and that is reinforced in so many ways throughtout the series.

The stories are split into chapters which tell the story from different points of view. It is sometimes from Rania’s and at other times from Adam’s point of view giving us an insight into the thoughts and feelings of each of the principal characters.

The readers are also reminded that relationships built on trust and faith last longer. I would not say that atheists are wrong, it is just how they think, but reading this story will ensure the reader will stop and re-evaluate their ideas and beliefs. All this has been rendered without the author sounding preachy. A wonderfully written series, this is a brilliant set of books to read which will keep the reader hooked till the end. I am afraid that if I continue raving I will end up letting out most of the story. To avoid that I strongly suggest that everyone should grab copies of the books and bury themselves in the story.