Mysteries in The City of Jasmine

It sounds very much like Carolyn was completely transported by this exciting, exotic adventure. Here’s what she thought of The City of Jasmine by Deanne Raybourn (Harlequin)…

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It’s the 1920s, Europe still hurts from the Great War, but despite this people are embracing life during this golden era. Interestingly, Deanne Raybourne’s The City of Jasmine is not just another story set during this fascinating era, one in which many authors indulge us with elaborate costumes, glitzy parties and sophistication normally associated with this glorious time. Rather, Raybourn’s story is quite different. It is set in Damascus, a city at the crossroads of history. A place often in the today’s news as a city of unrest and violence; Raybourn’s Damascus is rich, exotic and ancient.

city of jasmineThe heroine of the story is Mrs Evangeline Starke (Evie), a young widow who has risen to fame by becoming an aviatrix flying her way across the seven seas of the ancient world. Accompanied by her eccentric Aunt Dove, they collect countless stories and admirers throughout their journey. Their adventures change course somewhat when Evie receives an anonymous letter, an envelope with nothing in it but a recently taken photograph of her late husband. Evie believes her husband to have perished with the sinking of a passenger ship five years earlier, but this recent photograph would seem to suggest otherwise. Evie, never one to shy away from adventure, steers her Aunt and her journey towards the country she believes this photograph was taken – Damascus.

It is once Evie arrives in the City of Jasmine that the story really came alive for me. Raybourn describes the alleyways and the markets of Damascus in such vibrant detail that I, as a reader, was taken back in time to this ancient city, with all it’s captivating scenery, it’s intriguing characters and enticing aromas.

Once in Damascus Evie meets a group of archaeologists who are overseeing a dig taking place in the Badiyat ash-Sham, the great Syrian Desert. Knowing her late husband’s obsession with this part of the world and his fascination with priceless historical artefacts, Evie insists on accompanying them back to the dig in order to try to uncover the mystery of the photograph. Upon arriving at the dig, Evie’s former world of glamour, sponsorships and parties abruptly changes to one of danger, thievery and murder.

Love and passion are also central to this story with Evie dealing with the deception from her past.

 

“’If you wish it,’ he replied as coolly as if she’d asked him to pass the nuts,’” Gabriel quoted softly. ’For would keep no girl in the Neverland against her will.’” He looked directly at me then, his eyes piercing in the soft lantern light of the tent.

I swallowed hard. “I don’t think I remember the rest.”

Gabriel’s eyes held mine. “Yes, you do. Peter takes Wendy home. And he tells her to leave a window open for him. Because he always comes back in the end.”

 

This book is great fun to read, with adventure at every turn of a page. I loved each of the characters, including the baddies! I would love to see this book turned into a film; I imagine it to be like Indiana Jones with a female as the lead. This wild ride is full of mystery and aerodynamic stunts, all occurring during a time of political unrest in Syria. At the same time, Raybourn manages to capture the stillness of the Syrian Desert at night – oh how I wanted to emerge from a tent in the middle of the night and gaze up at the millions of stars, even if it was after a day of turmoil and angst!

I recommend that you look out for this book and lose yourself in a story of intrigue, danger and love. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will keep my eye out for future Deanna Raybourn novels.

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 You can find out more about Deanne Raybourne’s The City of Jasmine here.