I’ll be writing many reviews of this fine lady’s work. Her Veronica Speedwell books (new one this month, superfans!!!) were my gateway and I devoured the first two of the Lady Julia Grey books (3rd one ready to go in the bedside library pile). After doing some Goodreads snooping, I discovered she had several books set in the 1920’s so I scooped up and loooooved “Spears of Grass” (So atmospheric. Wonderful saucy heroine and roguish bush pilot word sparring in the wilds of Africa. But I digress…..)
City of Jasmine has its own saucy heroine but SHE is the pilot here (taught by the African bush pilot from Spears of Grass, seriously…READ IT). Her sparring partner is her thought to be deceased quasi ex-husband archaeologist, Gabriel. Damascus, archaeological dig sites and various Bedouin encampments serve as the backdrop.
Aviatrix (that word is just plain awesome) Evangeline Starke is piloting a sponsored “7 Seas Tour” in order to support herself and her titled but cash poor Aunt Dove when she receives a picture of Gabriel, her “dead” husband, taken years after his death. Dah, dah, duuuuuh! While her airplane is getting much-needed repair work, she drags Aunt Dove and her obnoxious parrot, Arthur Wellesley, to Damascus in search of Gabriel. Her journey to find Gabriel and discover why he left her and faked his own death is had on the backs of camels across the Syrian desert in the company of a foreign diplomat, Bedouin Kings, archaeologists, a German Doktor and a pair of Hungarian aristocrats.
While trying to track down a priceless artifact in a sea of untrustworthy characters, Evangeline finds Gabriel. They struggle with old wounds and acquaint themselves with who they have become after seven years apart. Raybourn references Peter Pan and Wendy a lot in the book and it’s an apt metaphor here. The playboy archaeologist who seems to care only for his adventures and the woman who was swept up into his world only to be left behind. Can you forgive someone who mysteriously distanced themselves from you and then disappeared? Would any excuse serve?
This was a fun book, if a bit repetitive. It was a little lather rinse repeat in the “We’re captured!” “We escaped!” “We’re captured again!” department, but that is often the M.O. in adventure stories. Think of it as an Indiana Jones story from the heroine’s point of view.