Desert Skies, Rebel Souls

Romance - Contemporary
256 Pages
Reviewed on 11/10/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite

Olivia Margaux-Alexander, who is from a small town near Copenhagen, Denmark, embarked on an exciting adventure. Just shy of her nineteenth birthday, she became a volunteer at a kibbutz in Israel, although her parents did not support the idea. She became instant friends with Hannah and Lola, two other Danish volunteers. Not only did Olivia leave her parents, but she also left her boyfriend, Daniel, and her loving, ill grandmother. Olivia always had a conflicted relationship with her mother, who seemed more engaged with her law firm, societal obligations and being fashionable. Olivia had an adventurous spirit and could not visualize herself following in her mother’s footsteps. She met a handsome young Israeli man named Chaim Rosen. Desert Skies, Rebel Souls by M.P. Tonnesen realistically portrays this new relationship forged by two young adults across international and cultural borders.

The author is an excellent storyteller as she skillfully interweaves the personal relationship against the dangerous, political landscape. When Chaim begins his military duty in the Special Forces, the three women volunteers embark on a trip to Jordan and Egypt, brimming with the unsettling, discriminatory biases against females. There are both difficult moments and joyful moments throughout the tale. All the characters are well-developed and interesting. While there is uncertainty as to whether the relationship can survive its many challenges, author M.P. Tonnesen has crafted an intriguing and unexpected path for this loving pair in Desert Skies, Rebel Souls. The reader will be enriched in numerous ways – a captivating book.

Gisela Dixon

Desert Skies, Rebel Souls by M.P. Tonnesen is a romance novel set against the backdrop of Middle Eastern politics and culture. Olivia is a young woman from Denmark on the verge of adulthood. Her story begins when she leaves home to go abroad on her first international trip to the Middle East. Olivia wants to volunteer and also experience a different culture and outlook for the first time. Once there, she meets Chaim, a charming young Israeli man who is about to set off to join the army in a few months. Their mutual attraction quickly develops, but they each have their own path to follow—his to join the army, and hers to travel and return home. However, in spite of the challenges and the obstacles in their way, this is their story of navigating young love as well as Olivia’s coming into her own as an independent young adult woman.

I liked Desert Skies, Rebel Souls and thought that the story was well written and executed. I especially liked the character of Chaim and the way in which he complements Olivia. Of course, this story is essentially about Olivia though, and her journey from a young girl into a woman. It is her thoughts and feelings that readers are shown mostly throughout the book. I also loved the scenery and the vivid descriptions of places and countries in the Middle Eastern region, which indeed made me feel that I was traveling there myself. This is an enjoyable romance novel that both teenagers and adults will like.

Jack Magnus

Desert Skies, Rebel Souls is a contemporary romance/coming of age novel written by M.P. Tonnesen. The hot, dry climate of Israel was a big change for the young Danish girl who disembarked from the plane with the other excited young men and women who had decided to volunteer and work on a kibbutz. It was a bit of a rebellion for Olivia. Her parents had long expected her to continue with her education, get married and start a family, but Olivia wanted more. Her first decision upon arriving was to eschew the larger kibbutz, which she had heard was a popular party venue for volunteers, in favor of the smaller one she was offered, thinking that she’d have more opportunities to interact with the local residents and be more fully immersed in the culture. Olivia and the two other Danish girls she had traveled with did opt for that smaller kibbutz. Olivia was somewhat disheartened, however, to find that she had been assigned to the kitchen and to clean toilets, but her free time was filled with adventures, friendships and a growing relationship with a young Israeli soldier.

M.P. Tonnesen’s own life of adventure began with her arrival at the same airport that her fictional character, Olivia, disembarked at, and her own experiences in Israel give Desert Skies, Rebel Souls a genuine feel for both the locale and the time frame in which it’s set. As someone who had also considered volunteering at a kibbutz, this story was of particular interest for me. While I felt Olivia’s talents were undoubtedly wasted in having her clean toilets, I found her other experiences to be fascinating and loved sharing in them albeit vicariously. Her travels outside of Israel had me in two minds, as the unfairness of the treatment she and her friends experienced, based on their gender, rankled even as I enjoyed seeing the sights with them, particularly the Rose City, which I Googled as I read. While this novel is categorized as a romance, there is so much action and adventure within these pages that I wouldn’t hesitate to also recommend it to anyone who enjoys travel literature or adventure tales. Desert Skies, Rebel Souls is most highly recommended.

M.P. Tonnesen


5* - I was hooked from the start. Great read.
Olivia longs for adventure – or at least to escape from her family, her boyfriend and the expectations of others. She chooses to volunteer on a kibbutz to push herself outside of her comfort zone and to live a little before settling down to her studies and a life that feels increasingly like it has already been mapped out for her.
Desert Skies, Rebel Souls had me hooked from the opening line. It’s more than a love story. There’s travel, adventure and danger. The writing makes you feel that you are there. Feeling the fear at a border crossing between Egypt and Israel. Experiencing the increased heart rate. Feeling the stares and the powerful awareness of cultural differences and expectations.
I enjoyed the writing, it took me on the journey, and what more can you ask from an author than that? And there’s always a little something unexpected around the next corner….

5* - Romance, travel, adventure. This has it all
A lovely book. Not only will it carry you away to different countries you will learn from these travels. A great book to snuggle up with. A love story with adventure and self-discovery and characters you want to be friends with.

5* - Another compulsive and addictive read from M.P. Tonnesen
M.P. Tonnesen has delivered again with a stunning novel featuring rich girl Olivia seeking a fresh start by visiting a Kibbutz in Israel. She leaves a repressive relationship in Denmark and cleans her soul in her new surroundings in the Middle East. Old relationships and new relationships collide in ever decreasing circles. The aspirations of her parents are side-lined by her increasing resilience and rebellion against parental control and manipulation. Her love of her Kibbutznik, Chaim, is swift and inevitable and the strained relationship with her mother is compensated by a knowing and close grandparent. Olivia, or Liv, springs to life in the heat and the tensions of the cultural divides within the compact political space of Israel, Jordan and Egypt. Liv's love for Chaim is tested within the confines and brutality of this tortured space. M.P. Tonnesen has shown again, following The Cosmopolitan Islander, her ability to write as if you are there, breathing the fear, experiencing her love and anticipating her naivety. This a great and easy read and a further step in this addictive author's journey.