This is the first novel I’ve read by the author, but it won’t be my last. Although not strictly speaking a romance novel, it does have a strong romance plot running through it, and, although it’s billed as the second in a series, it seems to be linked to the previous book more by theme and era than by characters, so no worries about diving straight in without having read the first book. Plus, the story centres around archaeology of the old-fashioned Indiana Jones variety rather than the modern Time Team style. What’s not to love?
Hattie (short for Hathor) Blackhouse is the daughter of famous Egyptologists, but has spent much of her life in Cornwall. After her companion (and former governess) runs off with the local curate, she decides to travel to Paris as a pleasant surprise for her parents and also the man she has long admired from afar. Arriving with her new companion, Bing, the sister of one of her parents’ fellow archaeologists who died during an excavation, Hattie makes a series of shocking discoveries. Her supposed soon-to-be fiancé is betrothed to another, her parents are missing – possibly dead – and all sorts of strange men seem very interested in her – or rather in any letters or packages her parents might have sent to her recently.
Hattie decides to investigate and sets off for Egypt with Bing in tow. Once there they bump into most of the people they encountered in Paris, though some are now claiming different identities, as well as yet more enthusiasts of all things ancient and Egyptian. The mysteries seem to centre on a tomb her parents discovered in the Valley of the Kings, which they believed to be the only one constructed there for a woman – the daughter of the God King – as well as having links to a plot to extricate Napoleon from his prison on Elba and the slightly strange behaviour of Hattie’s parents in leaving her behind so much of the time. No one is quite who they seem to be, and at times Hattie wonders if there’s anyone there she can trust other than Bing – and possibly her former almost-fiancé, whose new love died in a mysterious accident shortly after Hattie and Bing left Paris.
The story includes a varied selection of potential love interests for Hattie and (even more so) Bing, as well as a possible rival for the affections of the man Hattie becomes closest to. I particularly like the twist that the companion is the one whose attention most men fight for, and also the various uses she finds for their attention, either diverting them from what Hattie is planning or enlisting their help in the general scheme of events.
This novel is full of twists and turns, many of which caught me unawares, and the conclusion is satisfactory, if a little abrupt. Definitely worth reading if you like heroines who can look after themselves, can rescue the hero when necessary, and have strong friendships with other women. The large cast of characters is a little overwhelming at times, but I managed to keep track of who everyone was (or was claiming to be) for the majority of the narrative.
The Cursed Tombs of Egypt Hold Many Secrets…
Miss Hattie Blackhouse has never been close to her parents…and no wonder, since the Blackhouses are renowned scholars who spend most of their time excavating ancient tombs in Egypt. But news of their disappearance forces Hattie to leave England and embark on a voyage that will reveal the long-buried secrets of her past. An encrypted senet board and a gold medallion lead Hattie on a perilous quest to track down her missing parents—and discover why people associated with the Blackhouses continue to turn up dead. What she uncovers is a secret that could alter the course of history…
Filled with intrigue, romance, and ancient secrets, Anne Cleeland’s thrilling novel takes you on an unforgettable Egyptian adventure.
Read an excerpt.