Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical romance
Series: Lady Travelers Society #3
Published by HQN Books on November 20, 2018
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
Set sail for love in this sparkling new adventure in #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander’s Lady Travelers Society series.
Harry Armstrong has spent years in Egypt, recovering relics and disregarding rules. Now he’s back in England with a new title and a new purpose: penning his exploits. But his efforts are overshadowed by London’s favorite writer about Egypt—a woman they call The Queen of the Desert, of all things. Worse, her stories—serialized in newspapers and reprinted in books—are complete rubbish.
Miss Sidney Honeywell didn’t set out to deceive anyone. It’s not her fault readers assumed her Tales of a Lady Adventurer in Egypt were real! Admitting her inadvertent deception now would destroy her reputation and her livelihood. But when the Earl of Brenton challenges her to travel to Egypt to prove her expertise, accompanied by his dashing, arrogant nephew, what choice does she have but to pack her bags?
With the matchmaking founders of the Lady Travelers Society in tow, Harry is determined to expose Sidney’s secret. But the truth might not be as great a revelation as discovering that love can strike even the most stubborn of hearts.
I kept expecting Amelia Peabody Emerson to walk through the lobby of Shepheard’s Hotel at any moment. Not that this is her story, but she and her entourage would have fit right into the adventures of Harry Armstrong, Sidney Honeywell and the gaggle of elderly ladies who are alternately chaperoning and matchmaking the couple – when they’re not aiding and abetting a criminal enterprise or two.
And there’s no dead body – not quite. Not even the one that Sidney and Harry expect to find.
But this is definitely a romp from beginning to end. It’s lighthearted, occasionally light-fingered, and frothy fun.
Sidney has been supplementing her meager income by writing. She has fictionalized the Egyptian adventures of her late grandmother in Cadwallender’s magazine, and the series has been a huge success.
But Sidney knew she was writing fiction, admittedly fiction with an underpinning of fact as well as a scholar’s knowledge of Egypt and her antiquities. However, her readers seem to believe that her stories are absolutely factual from beginning to end.
And the meddling founders of the Lady Travelers Society, not having gotten their members in enough trouble in the previous outings of the series (The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen and The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger) can’t seem to resist getting themselves a bit too involved when the Earl of Brenton takes offense at Sidney’s stories.
He claims they are complete bunk, and that Sidney, who writes as Mrs. Gordon, is deceiving her audience unconscionably. What he’s not admitting is that he is incensed that Sidney’s fluff pieces are celebrated while he can’t seem to find a publisher for his earnestly written, utterly factual – and deadly dull – accounts of his own travels in Egypt.
So they’re off on a jaunt to Egypt, paid for by the magazine, so that Sidney can prove her expertise, or Harry can prove she’s a fraud and get a guaranteed publishing contract. With the founding “Lady Travelers” along as chaperones and comic relief, managing to finally take the trip that they’ve always dreamed of.
Sidney claims to be Mrs. Gordon, Harry claims to be his own nephew, and the reporter sent by the magazine hovers over everything, hoping to get a story that will make his career, one way or another.
Then Harry’s somewhat disreputable past catches up with Sidney’s new-found spirit of adventure, and they find themselves in the midst of a classic farce of a treasure hunt.
With so much fun to be had, sun, sand, adventure and the trip of a lifetime, how could they not fall in love? With Egypt, and especially with each other?
Escape Rating B+: This is absolutely wonderful, marvelously tasty, complete and utter fluff. It’s delicious.
It would also make a great Shakespearean comedy. Sidney is deceiving Harry. Harry is deceiving Sidney. The reporter is deceiving everyone. Except that everyone seems to know that everyone is deceiving everyone else and no one is willing to admit it.
And that just adds to the sense of fun and adventure.
It’s also a lot of fun the way that Sidney’s real-life adventures in Egypt seem so much like her fictional adventures. Her friends think she’s been kidnapped by white slavers, when the truth is that an Egyptian princess is a fan of her work, so she gets to spend a night in the harem with the princess and her family.
She steals a priceless Egyptian antiquity from a nefarious smuggler, only to discover that it’s the key to a much greater treasure and a much bigger adventure.
She begins by revisiting the scenes of her grandmother’s greatest adventures – only to have a great adventure of her own. And to clear up her grandmother’s unfinished business.
Her contest with Harry brings out Sidney’s inner adventurer at every turn, and allows her to become the woman she was meant to be. Not because he sweeps her off her feet – although he eventually does – but because he treats her as an equal combatant in their rivalry.
That she also helps him solve the mystery that has been dogging him for two long and lonely years makes them earn their happy ever after – while providing just desserts for the true villain of the piece.
This series is simply loads of fun, and every trip with the Lady Travelers Society is always a lovely adventure. I’m looking forward to their next adventure in The Lady Travelers Guide to Happily Ever After when it comes out in June. It’s sure to be another marvelous lark!