City of Rants

Wow, what an unexpected disappointment! I love Deanna Raybourn, and her book A Spear of Summer Grass has become one of my all-time favorites, so I had very high hopes for this new romantic adventure. Especially after reading Whisper of Jasmine, which introduces these characters, I had expected to fall in love with this story. Nope.

Damascus is the fabled "city of jasmine," and that is an on-going theme throughout the book, true, but with Evie's arrival it would have been more appropriately nicknamed the city of ranting. She didn't shut up! I'm all for a good let-loose where the leading lady gives her man what for, establishing herself and validating her position. Shout at the top of your lungs, Evie. Give him a piece of your mind and vent your heart out all over his miserable two-timing head ... but then wrap it up and move forward. She was stuck on repeat through the majority of the book! They'd meet clandestinely to discuss the artifact and she'd let loose at him. They'd trod about in the desert for awhile, and then Evie would bite his head off again. Capture by Bedouins, followed up by a hissy fit. Escape, and another round. Come on, Evie, we're sick of it now! Yes, you have a valid position, and yes, Gabriel deserves the rough edge of your tongue (until he gets the truth out), but the whole song and dance got very old very quickly. That part of the plot really could have been constructed better, in my opinion.

The Evie and Gabriel we first met in Whisper of Jasmine and the Evie and Gabriel who take over in City of Jasmine: Two. Different. Sets. Of people. They were completely unrecognizable! Yes, I understand that Evie "grew-up" -- pfft! -- and changed her outlook on life after Shanghai, and Gabriel is being all cloak-and-dagger here, but I really could not relate the people I had met in the prequel to the ones I was following through the desert. I was rather heartbroken about that.

As for Aunt Dove? Ehh... I felt she was the strongest and most dynamic character here, but she didn't really seem to fit. Like that one puzzle piece that just won't slip into the space you know it's meant to fill, she had the right feel for the story, but felt out of place somehow. Yet again, a let down for me after reading the prequel.

*Sigh* I'm sorry, ladies and gents! I just couldn't wrap my heart around this one. I gave it an honest effort, but it came up desperately short for me. I still love Deanna Raybourn, but this one will not be on my Read Again list.


As a special bonus for Independence Day (mostly because there are fireworks on the cover!!), here is my review of the prequel novella which introduced us to Evie & Gabriel...
 A sweet little read! Raybourn mixed her series together a bit as a special treat for her fans, providing a hint of the later March scions, a bittersweet taste of Delilah's life before the maelstrom of tragedy and scandal which would eventually lead her to Kenya, and introduced the spice of a brand spankin' new couple in the first breath of romance and what promises to be high adventure.

Evie is bored with her dull, penniless life of dead-end jobs and a roommate who would irritate a saint. She longs for something more. An invitation from her old pal Delilah Drummond and the tailoring assistance of her colorful Aunt Dove seems just the recipe to shake things up a bit. And when she collides - literally - with the dashingly handsome Gabriel Starke she plunges right in without hesitation!

It's clear that there are many balls in the air here, and the hands mastering them may not belong to whom you might at first suppose. What is apparent is that Evie and Gabriel are in for a wild ride, and that she has finally found her grand adventure. A fun shortie with a potent blend of nostalgia, passion, and sparkle ... I can't wait to read "City of Jasmine" after this! Bravo!

If only Raybourn had stopped there... ;-)