Why did I grab up this book? The cover of course. Okay, not just the cover. I was enchanted by the idea of a historical romance set in Egypt where the Egyptian gods were real and the people lived accordingly. It was with great anticipation that I dove into this one and I wasn’t disappointed.
It’s the second book in a series, but as far as I could tell the stories are only loosely connected and this one can be read as a standalone.
The story opens with Khemet, the adopted brother of the Pharaoh, being offered what amounts to a suicide mission where he will escort and protect a noble woman to fulfill a task given her by a goddess. Nephrys, an Egyptian goddess, has required Tiya to give herself over to be the wife of a provincial ruler who is plotting to unleash an evil god through the use of black magic and take over Egypt. Tiya will be like a vessel for Nephrys to get past the magical guards on the villain’s provincial kingdom so that Nephrys can destroy him and the god he is trying to unleash. Both Tiya and Khemet are considered expendable. While they journey up the Nile to fulfill their appointed task, it becomes harder for them to be obedient to what is required of them because they start to care for each other. Both are willing to sacrifice if it means the other can live, but even then Khemet is determined to do all he can so that their task will be performed in a way that they both can walk away from it- together. He’s an honorable warrior of Pharaoh and his patron god, Horus, but the thing is, he’s a warrior and he will fight for what he wants. Nothing in Tiya’s life has prepared her for what she must do, but with Khemet she now has a reason to grab at even a slender opportunity for happiness.
The story is along the lines of some of those epic adventures that human heroes undertook in Greek mythology. The two travelers start out nearly strangers and for their own reasons set out on a trek that seemingly only has one ending, yet there is hope that somehow they’ll pull off the nigh impossible. It had its exciting moments and its times for character and romance to develop at a natural pace.
Speaking of mythology, I loved the way that ancient Egyptian life was woven with that of their mythology. It was just the right amount of backdrop to the story so that the pace didn’t bog down and the content stayed on the fascinating and not boring side.
Both characters take on the narration of the piece which I was glad for so that I could get to know them both. I really liked them. Khemet is strong- a total warrior- and not arrogant, but he is mysterious and we don’t get full disclosure about him until near the end. Tiya is strong too. Yes, she gets teary-eyed, but she doesn’t curl up and quit. She puts a good face on things and volunteered for the mission to spare someone else from this fate.
There was one oddity to their narrating that took me by surprise and I don’t know if its just something to do with the ARC edition or if it will be that way in the finished one too. Both characters have little conversations in their head where the narration drops out of third person into first person. I didn’t mind it once I got used to it, but I wish it had been put into Italics or something to distinguish it so that I wasn’t reading along with ‘he did–‘ and then suddenly ‘I need to–‘. Yeah, it kind of catches you out and you end up pausing, re-reading and then moving on. Not a biggie really, but just something a bit different.
As to the romance, this was nicely paced and built up properly. They are attracted from the beginning, but they slowly go from co-travelers to friends to a set back and then to lovers- ill fated lovers or so it seems. I loved the tension caused by the fact that they were likely to die at the end of their journey so it made their romance all the sweeter and also more passion fueled by desperation to have something together before they die.
Other than Nephrys, the other characters played very minor roles so the story is built pretty much around these two well-written characters, Khemet and Tiya. I really liked how Nephrys is written as one of those gods with a true god complex. She will do what she will do and humans are far beneath her even if she likes to manipulate them and jump into their lives for her own pleasure.
I really liked this one and now I plan to go back and read the first book. I hope more is coming in the series. There certainly are plenty of gods in the Egyptian pantheon to give stories too.
I would recommend this one for those who enjoy historical romances blended with mythology that offer up a bit of heat and adventure to the story.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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