Series: Stand-Alone (as of now)
Released: February 25, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction
Summary from Goodreads:
Set against the lush, exotic European colonial outposts of the 1920s, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn delivers the captivating tale of one woman who embarks upon a journey to see the world—and ends up finding intrigue, danger and a love beyond all reason.This was my first novel by Deanna Raybourn and certainly will not be my last. This was such a fun, adventurous book!
Famed aviatrix Evangeline Starke never expected to see her husband, adventurer Gabriel Starke, ever again. They had been a golden couple, enjoying a whirlwind courtship amid the backdrop of a glittering social set in prewar London until his sudden death with the sinking of the Lusitania. Five years later, beginning to embrace life again, Evie embarks upon a flight around the world, collecting fame and admirers along the way. In the midst of her triumphant tour, she is shocked to receive a mysterious—and recent—photograph of Gabriel, which brings her ambitious stunt to a screeching halt.
With her eccentric aunt Dove in tow, Evie tracks the source of the photo to the ancient City of Jasmine, Damascus. There she discovers that nothing is as it seems. Danger lurks at every turn, and at stake is a priceless relic, an artifact once lost to time and so valuable that criminals will stop at nothing to acquire it—even murder. Leaving the jewelled city behind, Evie sets off across the punishing sands of the desert to unearth the truth of Gabriel's disappearance and retrieve a relic straight from the pages of history.
Along the way, Evie must come to terms with the deception that parted her from Gabriel and the passion that will change her destiny forever...
We begin the story with aviatrix, Evie Starke, preparing to leave on the last part of her tour (with adorable Aunt Dove and her funny little parrot in tow). Her plans are interrupted, however, when a bit of evidence suggests that her dead husband may actually be alive and in Damascus. So off to Damascus they go!
I highly enjoyed Raybourn's descriptions of Damascus, the desert, and all the historical and cultural details that she throws in. The many eclectic and quirky characters also play a huge role in making this a very enjoyable story.
It takes (what felt like) quite a while to get to Evie and Gabriel together, but once they do it is worth the wait. I loved the interaction between these two and their scenes together were my favorite. I decided to label this historical fiction though, rather than historical romance, because I felt like any romance really took a backseat to a primarily adventure story. I love my romance, and I really don't non-love-story books, but I didn't miss it here. This book still really worked for me.
There is also a prequel novella called Whispers of Jasmine which I highly recommend if you enjoy City of Jasmine. It is my strong suggestion that you read the prequel AFTER the main novel. It gives a lot of mystery information away. The prequel really adds to the romance between Evie and Gabriel, however, if you read it second.
A very enjoyable book with a beautiful setting.