City of Jasmine
Although it's been five years since her husband Gabriel's death, aviatrix Evangeline "Evie" Starke can't shake his presence from her head or her heart. Longing for him still in the silent moments when she's alone, she distracts herself with an adventuresome career behind the controls of her plane, the Jolly Roger, accepting challenges and performing feats, each one more daring than the last. In the midst of her most ambitious trip yet, the independent Evie's attention is ripped from the present and thrust into the past in a manner from which even she cannot disconnect herself.
Can it really be? A photo of Gabriel in the post? A photo that shows he's aged since she's seen him? A photo that indicates the husband she believed to be dead is still alive and in Damascus, the City of Jasmine? One thing Evie knows, if he is alive, she's surely going to kill him once she gets her hands on him. Suddenly the past comes flooding back in a way it hasn't done in years, and Evie knows that she can't rest until she locates Gabriel and demands an explanation for his actions.
"While it's hard to believe that Deanna Raybourn could pen a tale that equals --- or possibly surpasses --- the quality, wit, emotion and adventure of A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS, also set in the 1920s, she has done exactly that with CITY OF JASMINE."
When they met, Evie and Gabriel acted on their immediate attraction to one another by running off to Scotland to tie the knot within hours of their acquaintance. The good-looking charmer, archaeologist and adventurer captured Evie's heart and never gave it back. Even when they parted ways in Shanghai on the verge of divorce, Evie still loved Gabriel beyond reason.
Before they could cross paths again, Evie received news that Gabriel had died in the sinking of the Lusitania, leaving Evie with her heart full of unresolved emotions and her mouth full of words left unsaid. Now it's possible that she may get that chance to express herself and in a way that's going to ensure Gabriel knows exactly where she stands --- if he's alive, that is.
No shrinking violet, Evie takes action. She immediately sets out for Damascus with her quirky, unconventional Aunt Dove along for the ride. The two women arrive in Damascus and immediately begin an investigation into the whereabouts of the possibly not-so-dead Gabriel.
While there, Evie finds herself embroiled in another mystery as well --- one that may lead to an artifact of inestimable value and a reputation known the world over. Unfortunately, Evie isn't the only one in pursuit of the object of great importance in the Christian community. A plethora of nefarious villains are also on the trail of the antiquity and, subsequently, Evie.
Whether or not Evie will get to the bottom of Gabriel's death, secure the artifact and gain the happily ever after that she so richly deserves remains to be seen. The only fact that isn't in question is that it's going to be one hell of a ride for everyone involved.
While it's hard to believe that Deanna Raybourn could pen a tale that equals --- or possibly surpasses --- the quality, wit, emotion and adventure of A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS, also set in the 1920s, she has done exactly that with CITY OF JASMINE. With every word, she brings the city of Damascus and the surrounding area to life with her vivid, efficient descriptions of the streets, food, weather and characters found there. She easily transports us to another land and another time, and allows us to experience Evie's emotions with her from the moment we open the pages of the book until we close them. Enjoy!
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on February 27, 2014