This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This was the latest To Be or Not to Be…Read vote winner. I just realized after I started to put together my review that I messed up. This one was not from my TBR pile, but my review pile. Oops, sorry about that, but thanks for picking it. I do plan to try to read the other one soon so maybe that will make up for it. Haha!
I snagged this one because I saw a review for the prequel at Anna’s Herding Cats Burning Soup blog. I didn’t realize until after I really looked at it closely that the spotlight shifted to a new main character, but that was just fine with me. I do love an intrepid lady on a mission away from all she knows accompanied by a dashing heroic sort.
After closing the book on the last page, I was left somewhat bewildered about this one. A Most Extraordinary Pursuit had a cunning mystery, colorful characters, exciting moments, and just that little extra something special that makes a book sparkle. Now that said, I have a few reservations, too. And, my ultimate decision whether I loved this story is rather dependent on what will follow. There wasn’t a cliffhanger, but there is definitely quite a bit left wide-open. More on that in a bit.
The story opens with the Duke of Olympia’s personal secretary, Miss Emmeline Truelove overseeing his funeral and then called aside to hear of a ‘mission’ from the now Dowager Duchess. The duke’s heir is missing it seems and someone must find him and let him know his new situation before less than desirable people and situations happen with the dukedom.
Miss Truelove is hesitant, particularly when she gets a look at her erstwhile partner, Lord Silverton who doesn’t impress her as capable. But she wants to do her duty so off she goes to locate archeologist and amateur scholar, Maximilian Haywood where he was last reportedly seen, Crete.
On arrival, Silverton and Truelove realize that Haywood might have encountered foul play as they are in danger from unknown attackers trying to prevent them from finding the new duke. Miss Truelove is well out of her depth though she tries to push forward and assert her natural intelligence and confidence while she also learns there is more to her partner than meets the eye.
As they follow Haywood’s trail, the situation get more dire and the plucky Miss Truelove and her cohort must endure much to reach success. They do indeed face an extraordinary adventure.
Alright, in the beginning Emmeline Truelove who is the heroine and narrates this story in the first person stands out as an eccentric, buttoned-up yet strong-willed woman. And it is that strong-willed button-uppedness that both engaged and repelled me.
While I appreciated her eccentricities, I was none too fond of her ‘my way is not just the highway, but the only way’ attitude and how she looked down on others whose life rules didn’t match her own. She got herself and others into situations because she insisted on her way and didn’t trust the intelligence and experience of others. But, as her history is revealed, I started to understand why she is the way she is. I started to feel pity for a woman who is brilliant in so many ways, but closed off from the deeper more satisfying things in life. Silverton tries to loosen her up and get her to really live and he succeeds somewhat. He even recognizes her worth and cares for her, but his own flaws (or shall I say methods in getting the job done) cause a rift that Miss Truelove will not accept. This thing with Truelove and Silverton was left unresolved and I hope it carries into the next book.
What I think really threw me for the biggest loop was that there is a hinky element to this story. Miss Truelove is visited by the ‘ghosts’ of Queen Victoria and her father. I am dubious whether they are real or she is hallucinating. The story never clears this up. I found it distracting at best and could have done without it as they kept popping in for their Jimminy Cricket moments. This is one of the things that if addressed in the next book then I might have more toleration for it.
I also found the other secret bit of hinkiness that is revealed in the story and left barely touched on another potential disappointment if it never ends up getting explained so again, I must wait until the next book to get the full picture maybe.
So, these things make it hard for me to say yay or nay about this book. There is no big cliffhanger, but it is still wide open in a way that left me less than satisfied. I suppose on one level there is a few resolutions. Engaging, strong beginning, but stay tuned… seems to be my take on it all.
I would recommend it for those who love their impertinent, eccentric lady adventuresses in a historical setting.
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.