Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Publisher:  Mira  
Published:   September 30, 2014
ISBN:  978-0778317753
Genre:   Historical Mystery, Suspense
Format:  Ebook
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


It is Poppy Hammond’s wedding day.  As she stands on the precipice of as the wife of aristocrat, Gerald Madderly she realizes this is not the life she wants for herself.  No, she wants more, much more.  She wants some of the drama and excitement experience by her aunt Julia Gray and other family members.  Gerald is a nice man.  She would have a nice life.  She would have nice friends.  She does not want nice; she wants passion and days filled with life.  She wants a life that Gerald cannot give her so rather than wed Gerald, moments before her walk down the aisle, Poppy heads out a window at the church and off to the unknown.  Before she can make her secret, although grand exist, a young curate named Sebastian comes upon her.  She beseeches him to help her and he quickly steps in to help her escape.  Together they head to her father’s estate where, after a few days Sebastian inexplicably disappears.  Piecing together bits and pieces of news Poppy quickly deduces that Sebastian is in need of his own rescue.  With her maid, Masterman, they track down just where Sebastian has gone and soon find themselves enroute to the Holy Land. 

As luck would have it an elderly Colonel is looking for an assistant to help him write his memoirs and Poppy quickly finds herself with the job.  Since an assistant would not be traveling with a maid Masterman comes up with a plan to follow Poppy and together then plot to share information on just what has happened to Sebastian.  Once they arrive in the Damascus the Colonel meets up with an old friend, the Comtesse and her very charming son, Armand.  Pursued romantically by both Armand and the Colonel’s valet, Hugh Poppy still cannot put Sebastian from her mind.  As each day passes she is certain that he is in danger and that he may be in danger because he knows the whereabouts of the missing Gabriel Stark.  When she finally does find the missing curate he turns out not to be the man she thought he was nor are things as pat as she expected.  Has she taken the first step on the grand adventure she craves?  Or has she made a most deadly error?  And just who is Sebastian Fox?

I am a huge Deanna Raybourn fan.  From her very first Julie Gray story, SILENT IN THE GRAVE, I have waited, at times not all that patiently, for the next story in the series.  Each story just got better and better.  And then Ms. Raybourn went in a different direction.  I do not begrudge her exploring her own creativity—and she is one of the most amazing and creative writers.  She has a unique voice and can turn a phrase that will stay with you long after you have read the last page.  Amazing and talented simply do not describe what a fabulous author she is but they are a start. 

Even though I’m not a fan of the era, I did enjoy CITY OF JASMINE simply because I love Raybourn’s writing.  When her latest, NIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS became available for review I snapped it up and dug right in…and find myself at a cross-roads. 

She is at the top of her game in her writing.  Those wonderful quips and turns of phrases that drew me to the Julia Gray books are there for your reading enjoyment in NIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS.  And she provides a wonderful mystery, liberally sprinkled with a unique combination of humor and suspense.  I really liked Poppy’s story. 

What I didn’t like, and what brought down my enjoyment of the book was the connections between the Starke’s from the Jasmine series and the family connecitons to the Julia Gray series.  I get it that I’m not the only fan who missed the Julia and Brisbane mysteries.  They were (are?) so elegantly told and they are such a dramatic couple.  Many fans have clamoured for more of their sleuthing.  The three novellas following THE DARK ENQUIRY just didn’t cut it for many of us including me.  They may have kept Raybourn’s hand in that series but they just weren’t satisfying.  The connections to Lady Julia and that series were at first kind of charming, then they became cheesy and ultimately made the NIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS a caricature of the earlier books.  In the author’s notes at the end of the book Raybourn says it was her chance to bridge the divide between the Gray and Jasmine stories.  For me it failed.  It was just too, as I said, cheesy.  Is that why the characters we’re reading now have read Julia’s memoirs?  What happened to them?  Are Brisbane and Julia dead? For me the book did not bridge the two worlds but made for a bad joke. 

I will read on…and will read anything Ms. Raybourn writes simply because I enjoy her voice.  And I will continue to hope for a real Julia and Brisbane story.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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