Review: Discovery of Desire

cover-discovery of desire.pngTitle: Discovery of Desire
Author: Susanne Lord
Series: London Explorers #2
Genre: Victorian Romance
Length: Novel
Available: 6th Sept


To the East India Company, he’s the ideal explorer: unwed, uncomplaining, strong as an ox and profitable. There’s nothing Seth Mayhew can’t find—until his sister disappears en route to India. The expedition is the first he fears he may fail, until he discovers a valuable, and irresistible, ally sailing on the same ship to Bombay.

But Wilhelmina Adams is on an expedition of her own—for a husband. With six sisters, no dowry and no marriage prospects in her Derbyshire village, Bombay promises a husband and security. But assisting a dangerously distracting explorer won’t improve her prospects.

It’s an inevitable partnership, but the winds of fate are ever changing. Adventures that begin in the bazaars of Bombay can diverge to the slums of London and patchwork fields of England. And at each port of call, Seth and Mina will have to risk everything to unearth the heart’s greatest prize.

Source: ARC from Sourcebooks Casablanca via NetGalley

Well, this is certainly different from the usual historical romance fare. Partly because the majority of it takes place in India, with a heroine who has sailed from England with her sister to marry an East India Company man whom she has never met. Mostly, though, I found it different because of Seth. He’s not your average hero, since he’s not well-born, nor rich, nor attempting to be anything or anyone other than who he is. And I loved that about him.

Seth is the best thing about this book. He’s tall and handsome and charming, a complete flirt, generous, good-hearted and convinced that he’s untrustworthy and will only ever let those he loves down. He’s also been rather unlucky financially, since unscrupulous people have a habit of taking full advantage of him, which has left him feeling stupid and foolish, when he’s nothing of the sort. He can be a little haphazard and is definitely more prone to acting than thinking, but he’s not stupid. He’s actually rather lovely.

Mina is capable and a touch managing and willing to do almost anything for those she loves – which is why she has sailed to India in the first place. She doesn’t have any particular interest in marriage herself, but she wouldn’t let her sister set forth alone. Unlike Seth, she does think about things very, very carefully before acting and has a real fear of being let down by anyone she comes to rely upon – which is of course where most of her troubles with Seth lie, since despite all his behaviour to the contrary, he doesn’t view himself as a safe bet so neither does Mina.

I really felt for Seth in this book. He’s a decent man, hardworking and kind, yet life hasn’t rewarded him in the ways that it could. He just wants to save his sister, help out his friend and, as he comes to know her, make sure that Mina is safe and happy. Naturally they are perfect together, but circumstances mean neither of them will admit to it.

This is a pretty slow-moving novel. Partly because the attraction between Seth and Mina is fairly instant and it’s obvious from early on that they’d be excellent together, except for circumstances – which get rehashed time and again because oh, woe, and stuff. This isn’t helped by the way Seth’s search for his sister doesn’t really go anywhere because people are awful and no one wants to care, and more woe. In truth, I’d hoped for some travelling and exploring and maybe a discovery or two somewhere in the wild, but this is exclusively a city book – first Bombay, then London. Which I found a touch disappointing.

Things do get more intriguing towards the end, but there are a few convenient moments that felt a little far-fetched and although I did like the end, this never quite carried me away in the way that I’d hoped. I did, however, love learning a bit about the “Venture girls” and am thoroughly intrigued by a certain scarred gentleman.

In all, I did enjoy this, if not quite as much as I’d hoped. Seth is wonderful and the way he falls for Mina is lovely. True, I might have liked more to have actually happened while they were in India, but overall this was good and I liked how it shone a light on aspects of history that the genre doesn’t tend to explore. I’ll be interested to see where this series heads next.

Discovery of Desire
is out September 6th.
Visit Susanne Lord for more details.


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