Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Curiosity Keeper - Sarah E. Ladd

The Curiosity Keeper (Treasures of Surrey, #1)Title:                Curiosity Keeper        

Author:            Sarah E. Ladd

Publisher:        Thomas Nelson

Market:            Christian

Genre:             Christian Fiction; Historical Fiction

Series:              Treasures of Surrey #1

Length:            352 pages

Pub. Date:       July 7, 2015


Description (from Amazon):

“It is not just a ruby, as you say. It is large as a quail’s egg, still untouched and unpolished. And it is rumored to either bless or curse whomever possesses it.”

Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop on Blinkett Street. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille has no choice but to accept help from the mysterious stranger who came to her aid.

Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content working as a village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may or may not be the answer to his questions.

Curious circumstance throws them together, and an intricate dance of need and suspicion leads the couple from the seedy backwaters of London to the elite neighborhoods of the wealthy to the lush, green Surrey countryside—all in the pursuit of a blood-red gem that collectors will sacrifice anything to possess.

Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, each will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.


My Review:

I requested this book from NetGalley based on the description and, yes, I also judged the book by its cover.  I expected an intriguing mystery about a lost jewel and two people searching for it (and growing) together. 

The mystery wasn’t that intriguing.  It was fairly easy to figure out all of the twists and turns and final conclusions.  Nor does Camille or Jonathan seem particularly interested in finding the missing ruby.  They both seem to be moving on with their lives, both individually and together.  However, even though my expectations weren’t really met, I still enjoyed the reading of the book and think it was worth the time.

The prose and dialogue flowed nicely.  While there were a few inconsistencies in the text, it didn’t interrupt or really detract from the overall story.  The story structure itself was also satisfying.  I wasn’t lost at the beginning but there also wasn’t so much background information that I grew bored before getting to the meat of the tale.  There were some lengthier descriptions.  These were well written, though, so even they were engaging.

Both Camille and Jonathan (as well as many of the supporting characters like Jonathan’s sister and father) were well-developed.  They were multi-faceted, changing, and growing characters throughout the book.    The story is driven forward based on their personal struggles and the issues surrounding the missing ruby and its effects on their lives.  I did feel like the romance portion moved a little too quickly.  But overall it, too, was believable. 

Sarah Ladd seemed to be well-versed in the period in England she chose as her setting.  There was nothing to jump out as glaringly impossible or inaccurate.  It was a satisfying read in all aspects.

The spiritual aspects of the book were handled appropriately.  Camille struggles some with her faith while Jonathan is more a solid rock believer.  Through situations and circumstances, Camille grows in her trust in God and His good will. 

The only elements that might not appeal to ultra-conservative readers are the mention a few times of the drinking of wine and some smoking.  However, I believe that these customs were very true to the times represented.  So they are not really endorsed or offensive. 

All in all, this was a pleasant book to read.  It was not as gripping from a mystery or suspense standpoint as I had hoped.  Regardless, the characters and the writing style made it enjoyable. 

I received this book as an Advanced Reader Copy via the publisher at NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

·         Sweet romance
·         Likeable characters
·         Wonderful descriptions

·         Not much of a mystery
·         Back cover/description promised more than the book delivered

My Rating:      3.5 out of 5 (Good)