Anyone who is familiar with author Juliana Gray probably identifies her with romance. This book, although linked to her six romance titles, is a completely different genre altogether. Or maybe genres is more appropriate?
THE PLOT: In 1906, Emmaline Truelove is the personal secretary to the Duke of Olympia until his sudden death. The dowager duchess is sending Miss Truelove to Crete on the family yacht in order to track down the new Duke, Maximilian Haywood. Haywood disappeared while working on an archaeological dig. Accompanying Truelove will be the Marquess of Silverton, an insouciant young lord who gives the impression of not being worth much. But in the Duke of Olympia’s world, looks can be very deceiving.
In Crete, Truelove and Silverton try to unravel the mystery of Haywood’s whereabouts while faced with the additional mysteries of whatever is going on in Knossos. Is it really the site of the fabled Labyrinth of the Minotaur? Did the legend have some basis in fact? And why do some paintings at the site show objects that could not possibly have existed 3,000 years before?
MY TWO CENTS: I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but the synopsis definitely intrigued me. I have read two of the author’s six romances (the other four are on my to-read shelf), and I didn’t realize they were connected to this book since it’s not a romance. It doesn’t matter; I don’t think you needed to read the other books before reading this one, although it’s a nice connection and a sly wink to the other characters. It may help frame the story, though, if you read the prequel novella The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match, which is set over a decade before this story and tells how the Duke and dowager duchess met. It also highlights that the Duke was quite active in the spy network even into his advanced years. Is it absolutely necessary? No, but it’s a good story and sets up this book nicely.
Even with that setup, I had a little trouble getting into this book. It took quite a few pages to get to the point where I couldn’t put it down. But I did get to that point. I think the biggest question for this series is, “What the HECK is going on here?” You get a little hint with the book starting off in 2012, then zipping back to 1906, and then…other things happen. Lots to do with the ancient Minoans. Also, did I mention that Truelove sees ghosts? Specifically, she is visited by the ghost of her dead stepfather, and also is often advised by the ghost of Queen Victoria. Whether one should listen to Queen Victoria is another matter.
I’m not kidding when I say this book is different genres. It’s a mystery, part ghost story, part possible time-travel, and maybe a hint of romance, but it is definitely NOT a straight romance. It’s strange, out of the ordinary, and pretty enjoyable despite its quirks. Or maybe because of them? Different is good.
COVER NOTES: I love the cover images for this book and its prequel, The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match. They have stylized art with little facial detail and bright, bold colors. Definitely grabs attention and sets these works apart from the author’s previous romances. The covers scream “This is a new and different kind of story.”
BOTTOM LINE: A little difficult to get into; a mixture of genres, but at heart a mystery. Not everything is resolved, and I’m hooked enough to look forward to the next book in the series.
TEACUP RATING: Three-and-a-half out of five teacups.
ON SALE DATE: Available October 4, 2016, in paperback and eformats.
NEXT UP IN THE SERIES: The title of Book 2 has not been released, but it is scheduled for publication September 15, 2017.
Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.