From sensible, sheltered girl…
Safe in the embrace of her loving family, Lady Emily Tremaine longs to feel more intensely alive. Surely the magic and mystery of Assyria and the fabled ruins of Nineveh will bring about the transformation she seeks.
To the woman his heart desires…
Scarred by his past and estranged from his noble grandfather, French adventurer Lucien Chambertin desires neither a home nor the chains of emotional attachment. He seeks only to explore the far reaches of the world. But he did not know the world contained the likes of Lady Emily – whose curiosity and sense of wonder match his own.
Source: ARC from Sourcebooks Casablanca via NetGalley
My word, there’s a lot going on in this book. Yet the pacing is very strange. I wanted to like it, I really did, but now that I’ve finished it I’m not quite sure what to make of it, to be honest.
It starts off well, with Emily, her parents and her friend, Lady Julia, arriving in Constantinople. There’s the usual meeting up of intriguing young men, awful snobbery from the local ambassador and excitement for the journey ahead. I love Emily’s mother, Lady Penworth. She’s clever and diplomatic, making her displeasure known even when she’s being ignored, but never by being rude or obnoxious. She’s wise and wonderful and I liked her more and more as the book progressed.
Emily starts off quite well too, being open to new experiences and determined to deal with the less cheerful sides of travel by not complaining. However, I am going to complain. I picked up this book expecting a journey through Mesopotamia in the Victorian era. What I got was a handful of paltry scenes sprinkled about their journey which didn’t give me a sense of their adventure at all. Then they settled in Mosul for ages and commenced a lot of very silly romantic languishing.
Thank goodness for Mélisande. The girl might be an unmitigated brat, but she definitely livened things up. And for someone supposedly sensible and straightforward, Emily was almost wilfully naive at times, not wanting to see the truth of something because it wasn’t anything she’d had to think of before, thanks to her exceedingly privileged upbringing – not just because of her class and wealth, but because of her excellent parents. I really didn’t like the way she becomes almost brattish herself towards the end of the book. I found her increasingly tiresome.
After Mosul – where I was initially delighted with some descriptions of the history and locale, only to grow bored with the emotional angsting – the fun historical side of things is thrown completely aside. The travel is once more condensed into nothing as the plot suddenly veers wildly towards Lucien’s past and trying to solve all his woes in a few very short chapters. To be honest, that whole thing could have been a book all on its own, and likely would have been better that way than being crammed in to the end of this one.
And that’s my problem with this book. The bits I was most interested in reading when I picked it up (the journey itself, the history and descriptions of the world around the characters) is glossed over and squashed into small spaces, while the romance is dragged out far more than it needs to be, while extra unnecessary bits are added to keep things going long after the story needed to end. The characters are okay – except for Lady Penworth who is great – but have a tendency to completely change to fit in with the plot, the adventures are all over too soon, lacking any real tension, and everything is tied up far too neatly.
In all it’s an okay book that provides a pleasant enough read, but it didn’t really fulfill my expectations. There’s always a lot going on, so even when things are dragging out a bit too much it’s never boring, although it didn’t fascinate me much either. There’s so much potential here that I can’t help feeling disappointed that it’s never quite realised.
Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey is Out Now!
Visit Lillian Marek for more details.