About A Sworn Virgin
WHEN 18-YEAR-OLD DIANA’S FATHER IS SHOT DEAD on the cobblestone streets of 1910 Eastern European Albania, Diana must abandon her dream of studying art in Italy as she struggles to survive in a remote mountain village with her stepmother Mirlinda.
Nearing starvation, Mirlinda secretly sells Diana into marriage with the cruel heir of a powerful clan. Rather than lose her freedom, Diana swears to remain a virgin for the rest of her life, a tradition that gives her the right to live as a man: she is now head of her household, can work for a living and carry a gun. She may participate in the vengeful blood feuds that consume the mountain tribes, but she may not be killed — unless she forsakes her vow.
When an injured stranger stumbles into her life, Diana nurses him back to health, saving his life — but risking her own when she falls in love with him . . .
When Diana asked on their way home, her father explained. A sworn virgin was a woman who had vowed to remain chaste in order to gain the right to live like a man: She could inherit property, earn a living, carry a gun, and kill for vengeance. Though she could kill; she could not be killed herself during a blood feud. Except for that, she was essentially regarded as a man, even “she” was always referred to as “he.” Diana understood some women chose this path to avoid an arranged marriage, and if they decided to be with a man later, the sworn virgin and her lover—even if he was her husband—could be shot by her family or her former betrothed’s family for dishonoring them. Her family would carry shame, and her former betrothed’s family had the right to shoot the men in her family, too.
Impressive debut novel by Dukes.
Diana is a complicated character. Prickly, soft, tough, talented, capable, and intelligent, she’s all over the place and as the story unfolds we become intimate with Diana understanding why she’s blustery. Sadly she is born in a time and culture where woman are considered inferior. Clearly Diana is a nonconformist, encouraged by her father as he recognized her talents and fostered her growth even though it was frowned upon. I love the bond father and daughter shared. Forced into a life of a Sworn Virgin, you can’t help but feel for Diana’s choice, so much ahead, and yet she elected a life of sacrifice in order to protect and provide not to mention survival for herself and stepmother. The relationship Diana has with her stepmother is frustratingly heartbreaking, certainly adding dimension to the story.
I applaud authors approaching obscure historical facts, in this case, the unfamiliar to most, Sworn Virgin of Albania. Also was impressed with Dukes selection of Albania, not a lot of books out with this particular country as the setting. Riveting and educational as we journey with Diana as a Sworn Virgin while learning of culture and traditions of Albania. Plenty of excitement and unexpectedness makes for a gripping read.
My only gripe, I would have liked to have learned more of Diana’s mother. Bits and pieces were tossed about arousing my curiosity leaving me hoping her backstory becomes less hazy in the future, if a sequel is indeed in the works.
Great writing, research and an ambitions narrative for a neophyte authoresses. Dukes is talented and I appreciate her vision and unique choice of plot, clearly not a run of the mill writer regarding characters, subject matters and location.
Based on the ending, a mixture of abruptness and cliffhanger, I do hope a sequel is planned for the very near future. I became so involved with Diana I must know what her future holds, too many loose ends requiring resolution.
Outstanding novel on numerous levels. Kristopher Dukes is an authoress to keep on your radar. Looking forward to reading more from Dukes.
About Kristopher Dukes
Kristopher Dukes was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has been a nationally published writer since high school and her work has appeared in bestselling book series “Written in the Dirt.” “A Sworn Virgin: Broken Promises” is her debut novel. She lives in Manhattan Beach, California with her husband Matt and pitbull Lucius.
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Publication Date March 2, 2016 by Amazon Digital Services LLC