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Book InfoBecoming Aria by Leelah Renn
Series: Vox Tenor #1
Rating: Book ratings explained
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Purchase at: Amazon | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU
A diverted plane. Three irresistible men. Morocco is the perfect place to hide.
I had no idea my husband was a powerful man in charge of a global drug cartel until I was coerced into betraying him. Knowing how I’ll be dealt with; I agree to enter Witness Protection. I’m too terrified of the alternative: a punishing and gruesome end.
When entry into WITSEC goes awry, I’m forced to flee New Orleans. Frightened and alone, my life as Embry is over and I escape with a new name—Aria.
Deprived of sleep and sick with stress, I cross paths with three gorgeous opera singers. Mateo, the melancholic gentleman Spaniard; Einar, the goofy, Viking-sized Swede; and Nikola, the take-charge gruff Bulgarian, are collectively known as Vox Tenor.
Hired as their chef in a luxurious Moroccan mansion, I have a few days to figure out how to stay on the run, if they’d leave me alone for a minute to think. They’re determined to wear down my defenses. I can’t afford to be vulnerable—my grisly secrets could get them killed.
Despite my best efforts, the men of Vox Tenor show me how life could be different in their arms.
If only I had the chance to find out.
I’m living on borrowed time and my worst nightmare is coming for me.
Can I ever escape being Embry and become Aria?
Becoming Aria is the first book in the Vox Tenor series. Book One ends in a cliff-hanger. If you’re ready for an epic tale of unconventional love and danger, this is your series. ⚠ Please heed the content warning in the beginning of the book. ⚠ Mature Readers only.
I’ve read some pretty blinding books this year and so going into December I didn’t think I’d find anything to top them. I was wrong. Becoming Aria is hands down the best book I’ve read in a long time.
Going into the book, I knew it was going to be a bit different from my usual sort of read. It’s rare I see a character hit 30, let alone Aria’s 42 years old. It was refreshing to read from the point of view of a woman who has surpassed my own years and the result is a book that feels mature but not old and staid. It’s as if reverse harem has grown up.
Underneath the complex predicament of her situation, Aria is an uncomplicated character who is incredibly relatable. She had the body worries of the average middle-aged woman and is unable to see the beauty within her, despite it being expressed by other characters. She doesn’t believe herself worthy of the second chance she’s been offered yet has an amazing capacity to love others. Aria feels desperately guilty over the fates of others in her past, beating herself up over an impossible situation where she was robbed of her control and not given a choice as to the outcome.
Along with the perspective of each man in the harem, Renn also includes the viewpoint of Roz, the group’s doctor and friend. It was interesting to see the character’s from a fifth outlook, giving not only remarkable insight into the group as a whole but a female perspective on a female main character.
If I were invisible with magic slats, I wouldn’t have to worry about being hunted – I’d be free to live wherever I wanted.
The whole book is tinged with sorrow. Aria mourns the relationship she never had with her husband and the daughter they lost. Nik is haunted by the demons arising from his parent’s imprisonment as political prisoners and the disappearance of his sister. Mat mourns the loss of his second wife but remains hopeful that love will prevail. Each character carries a past that shapes their present and fuels their interactions with others. These aren’t just past events that make the characters more interesting, but ones that permeate their very essence.
Leelah Renn’s writing style is immensely descriptive. In the early chapters, she made me feel Embry’s hopelessness at the hands of her husband and the trauma of enduring the court proceedings. As the scene moves to Morocco I could feel the dry heat against my skin and the sand beneath my feet. A trip to the souk wasn’t just a quick market visit but an experience that had my wanting to smell and taste exactly what the characters were. It’s a rare thing that I feel this transported into a setting in a book. The imagery I was presented with created something entirely new in my mind instead of re-using the same old pictures that other books bring forward.
After some time, the flames sync up with the rhythm, and the repetitive chants begging to hypnotize us all. We sway and sing as one unit and it morphs into a primordial prayer to the sky above. I look up to see the light from millions of years ago just arriving now. The twinkling stars sit on the horizon as if tired from their long journey. The galaxy is having a cosmic orgy with the desert.
The steam level in Becoming Aria is on the lower end of the scale, being more of a rising simmer. There I was, at 25% in, rubbing my hands together with glee, anticipating some serious steam in the hammam pool when Mr Rainbow Knee Socks bursts in wearing nothing else but a bedsheet tied around his neck like a cape. I had just about resigned myself to missing the moment when things start heating up with their extra participant when Aria startles and flees. I came out of that chapter with whiplash.
I had to read another 50% of the book before seeing any more action. It worked really well, though, because it gave the story a chance to demonstrate the expansion of love and build a much stronger bond between the harem. All the better to shatter them when they find out just who Aria is. Because you know it’s going to happen sooner or later.
The book ends up on a very deceptive cliffhanger. You literally experience the calm before the storm, then even when the storm is over the hits still keep coming. Just when you think you can see the ending, Renn throws another curveball. And another. I seriously thought the book was about to end on three separate occasions, all of which brought my heart even closer to my mouth.
Becoming Aria is a beautifully tragic yet eternally hopeful story with complex interpersonal relationship dynamics. It’s magical in its setting and sensitive to culture and mythology. I can’t help feeling that if you don’t read this book, you’ll be missing out on something amazing.
Why you should read Becoming Aria
- It’s painfully realistic. Who hasn’t fumbled with getting dressed, changed their hair on a whim or worried about stretch marks?
- Witty and amusing moments sandwiched between whimsy and sadness.
- Beautifully descriptive writing transports you to a different world.