I have enjoyed some of Ms. Gray’s more traditional romances, so I was quite looking forward to reading this book. The book has action, adventure, suspense with, in my opinion, little or no true romance. As I neared the end of the book, I had as many questions, if not more, than I started with.
Emmeline Truelove is a very proper Victorian miss, secretary to the Duke of Olympia, visited by the spirits of not only her dearly beloved father but also Queen Victoria herself. I never quite understood the connection, but the Queen constantly gives Emmeline advice about her love life or lack thereof as she accompanies by the very dashing Marquess of Silverton to the Mediterranean in search of Mr. Haywood, the newly minted Duke of Olympia.
I did enjoy the author’s descriptions of Ms. Truelove’s very British upper lip and dress as they arrive in Greece and begin their search at Mr. Haywood’s apartment. Clearly someone has been there before them and pretty thoroughly searched the premises. In an Indiana Jones type of fashion, they are accosted by villains bearing the mark of the double-headed saw which is the mark of the labrys found at the site of Knossos on Crete. Silverton, of course, throws off his languid bored aristocrat façade and springs into action to defend Ms. Truelove and take the lead into the investigation.
In Crete they split up and use their individual expertise to trace clues behind Mr. Haywood’s mysterious disappearance. Lord Silverton uses his very masculine charms with the housekeeper of the place where they’re staying, much to Ms. Truelove’s disgust and jealousy, while she heads up to the excavations and looks upon a centuries-old fresco that depicts three figures departing the labyrinth, one of whom is clearly carrying a Kodak camera that couldn’t have existed in the time period.
As the plot thickens, the author gives us a few bits of the story of Theseus and Ariadne and their joining forces to defeat the minotaur, leaving the reader trying to piece together how it impacts the current story. New characters weave in and out of the plot with the good Queen’s spirit giving Emmeline romantic advice and her father’s spirit giving her warmth and comfort. While nothing improper occurs between Truelove and Silverton, they definitely do not have regard for the proprieties of the times as they frequent each other’s bedrooms at will.
All in all, I am confused if this is supposed to be a mystery or a romance, because I have to admit that I did not find it very romantic. As the story winds to a close, many facts become clear to the reader, but I have to admit that there are still many facts that remain a mystery. Perhaps Ms. Gray will enlighten us in a future book.
Known for her original plots, deft characterization, and lyrical voice, Juliana Gray presents an extraordinary novel of an uncommon pursuit…
February, 1906. As the personal secretary of the recently departed Duke of Olympia—and a woman of scrupulous character—Miss Emmeline Rose Truelove never expected her duties to involve steaming through the Mediterranean on a private yacht, under the prodigal eye of one Lord Silverton, the most charmingly corrupt bachelor in London. But here they are, improperly bound on a quest to find the duke’s enigmatic heir, current whereabouts unknown.
An expert on anachronisms, Maximilian Haywood was last seen at an archaeological dig on the island of Crete. And from the moment Truelove and Silverton disembark, they are met with incidents of a suspicious nature: a ransacked flat, a murdered government employee, an assassination attempt. As they travel from port to port on Max’s trail, piecing together the strange events of the days before his disappearance, Truelove will discover the folly of her misconceptions—about the whims of the heart, the motives of men, and the nature of time itself…
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