I know many of you have experienced the feeling that comes from finding that book or series that is your perfect match so that you’re nearly depressed when its over- there are no more coming- and you can’t find anything to equal it. Well that was the case for how I felt about stories set in the golden age of Egyptian archeology with an adventurous heroine, dangerous characters who may not be what they seem, treasure hunting and romance. Just a few pages into this book and I knew I had found my lovely match again. The heroine was more lucky than good, had a wry witty style of thinking and dialogue, and that intrepid adventuress quality to her that blended with innocence and naïveté.
I’m going to be brief about the summary because of spoilers. Hattie has lived a dull life buried in the country on a small estate in Cornwall while her parents, famous British archeologists, spend all their time in Egypt barely taking the time to send her a letter once in a while. Hattie has decided she wants more so she sets off to Paris during the unsettled times after Napoleon’s first defeat to look up her old friend, Robbie, who works in the British government. Her plans for Robbie are set aside when she finds him in the middle of something that seems to be about her parents, but that said parents have gone missing. Now everyone wants to know what she knows about her parents, a golden disc, a strongbox and a hidden tomb. Hattie doesn’t take kindly to all the poking and prodding and gives them all the slip to go to Egypt and begin her own investigation with the assistance of her stout-hearted companion Bing. As the secrets unfold, Hattie finds that everything has been a lie and she’s not sure if she wants to know anymore. What she is sure about is that she does want more kisses from the handsome and enigmatic Monsieur Berry.
The backdrop of the story takes place at the end of the Napoleonic Era prior to Napoleon’s Hundred Days when all sorts of intrigue is going on both to keep Napoleon in exile and on the other side to free him to continue what he started. It is a blend of historical color and good romantic suspense. It asks a big ‘what if’ question (which shall remain undisclosed because it was the hugest surprise and key to all the intrigue) and then goes from there. The story hinges on a couple of Egytologists who disappear and everyone suspects about the hidden tomb there are hints about. The Egyptology part is there and discussed, but it’s not dry at all for the simple reason that the heroine, who is the daughter of the missing scholars, has no interest whatsoever in her parents’ work, but must endure everyone talking about it. Hattie has the ‘fake it until she makes it’ philosophy when she pretends interest in tombs, mummies, Egyptian artifacts, etc.
As to the suspense portion, I loved the tone this one set from the beginning. Nobody is who they seem and everyone seems to have an agenda. I got to where I was running around suspecting everyone- rightly so in most cases though some who were plotting were the good guys for good reasons. People are working at cross purposes and everyone seems to have a much better grasp of what’s going on than the heroine. She had more patience than me. I think she heard ‘I can’t tell you’, ‘it’s for your own good or safety’ or ‘please don’t ask me’ so many times.
That brings me to the characters. There are a boatload of characters in this baby. Hattie is the main character and she tells the story in third person. She may be young, sheltered, and all that, but this girl is observant, quick witted, and has a good sense of humor. She has a temper, but who wouldn’t under the circumstances. She jumps into things and knows her own mind. I love how she has every reason to be a hot mess, but she sucks it up and keeps rolling. She has a romantic heart and strong attractions, but she still keeps a cool head too. She experiences attraction for a man who fires her passion and she doesn’t shy away from what he inspires her to want and take when the opportunity arises. Hattie is not one to take the easy, safer route when she sees a chance at happiness and fulfillment along the other dangerous and uncertain path.
Hattie’s side kick and intrepid companion, Bing, is probably my favorite character in the story. Bing is a fount of knowledge and her sangfroid in the face of adventure is so quintessentially British. I knew she was my kinda gal when Hattie wants away from an awkward social situation so she plans on escaping out the second floor window and Bing just goes with it without batting an eye.
There are tons of men in Hattie’s life that I won’t detail out and one is her love interest, but I don’t want to be spoilerish so I’ll leave it with the fact that the majority of them have no interest in her as a person though some pretend to do so. They all think she knows something or has something in her possession. It’s hilarious because in truth they all know a heck of a lot more than she does.
The overall story was beyond satisfying and I really only had one issue that’s more a reflection on me than the story having trouble. The end came quick. Bammo! What? *scrambles to see if another page is behind all the end credits* After all that came before, I was prepared for a nice coze with my gal and her happily ever after, but it ended more on a quick happy for now. After all the secrecy surrounding a certain someone, I wanted a debriefing of sorts or an epilogue to a few years down the road- something, anything. Yeah, desperate a little is right. Haha! My rational mind tells me that the ending was fine for the circumstances and hey, maybe there’s more to come with a sequel or something, but yeah, I’m not always rational.
The good news is that my disappointment all stems from the fact that I was really into this story and the characters. I think I could follow Hattie and her adventures into old age. Lovers of historical romantic suspense with a strong, adventuresome, but fun and intrepid heroine should give this one a try.
My thanks to Sourcebooks and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Review by Sophia Rose
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