I’ve had my eye on this book since before it even had a title! I finished the second book and immediately started counting the days until this one was going to be released.
Fortunately I had the good luck to be approved for an ARC way back in Oct, because I literally don’t think I could have waited for the release in Jan 2018!
London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker.
His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.
But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past. Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything (summary from Goodreads).
I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel somewhat disappointed in this book, and for one reason only–the relationship between Stoker and Veronica. I loved the mystery and intrigue, I mean you can’t go wrong with an Egyptian curse. Egyptian curses are so exotic and mysterious by nature so incorporating it in to the novel was fantastic. I loved how the mystery culminated in the end and how there were multiple little tidbits that were resolved in a very neat fashion.
As always, Stoker and Veronica’s methods of deduction and chemistry played out well in the novel. I loved watching them arrive at the conclusion and there were many different scenes that were brilliantly written–particularly between Veronica and Caroline and of course between Stoker and Caroline. Very well done.
I felt satisfied with the resolution and excited for the next book but as I said, I would be lying if I didn’t note a tinge of disappointment in this book. I felt like in the first two books, there was so much sexual tension and chemistry between Stoker and Veronica and the way that the last book ended, I feel like fans were primed for major progress in there relationship. If you were hoping for just that–you don’t get it in this book.
There was some progress–albeit minimal–between the two. I mean we do find out more about Stoker and his past relationships but we don’t really see the same sexual tension and longing that we do in the other books. I felt like there should have at least been a larger conversation at some point in the book. An acknowledgement. A come to Jesus talk. A kiss. A tender moment. Something! Raybourn is so good at writing chemistry and romance that I was surprised that this book lacked some of her trademark build up and romance.
And this book would have been such a perfect opportunity to create either more conflict between the characters, more tension, or build up to a final resolution. With the introduction of Caroline, I thought that set the bar high for a more complicated romance between the two. I felt frustrated with the amount of grandstanding Veronica did in defense of their friendship. I think their friendship is invaluable to each of them, but it has been so heavily foreshadowed that they will end up together that I didn’t feel it necessary to drive home their friendship importance.
I needed more inner conflict or romantic tension to develop rather than the importance of their friendship. I am ok with the fact that they aren’t married and settled down by now, as that’s the typical formula for many romantic mysteries. That was one of the reason why I loved this series so much….the romance didn’t fizzle out in the first two books. Most books find the two main characters married and pregnant by book 3 or 4 so I am thankful that Raybourn didn’t go in that same formulaic direction with this series, however, I needed a little more to happen when it came to Stoker and Veronica.
All romantic criticism aside, this is a well written mystery and intriguing with lots of moving parts. As I mentioned, the Egyptian plot was exciting and mysterious with a subtle nod to the occult. I love how Stoker and Veronica work together and I am thrilled to see where their adventures take them next. And hopefully the next book moves their relationship forward more.
- Review copy provided by: Publisher/Author in exchange for an honest review
This book counts toward: NA
- Hosted by: NA
- Books for Challenge Completed: NA
Recommendation: 4 out of 5
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery, detective novel, Victorian novel, Gothic romance