Also by this author: A Gilded Lady, A Gilded Lady (Hope & Glory, #2), The Prince of Spies
Series: Hope and Glory #1
Published by Bethany House on September 3, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Historical, Romance
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Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building a successful global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Tasked with gaining access to the private Delacroix plant collection, Smithsonian botanist Annabelle Larkin unwittingly steps into a web of dangerous political intrigue and will be forced to choose between her heart and her loyalty to her country.
For the most part, I primarily read romantic suspense novels for Life is Story, but I decided I needed a break from the genre. The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden caught my attention, despite my usual attempts to eschew historical fiction. The last one I read soured me, but the first book of Camden’s Hope and Glory trilogy did not let me down. It has a thought-out, well-researched plot that is wholesome from beginning to end.
This was my first Elizabeth Camden book, and I liked her writing style. She drew me in from the very beginning–an outright refusal was perfect. I’ve been told many times in my life that I couldn’t do something. I never accepted it, and neither did Annabelle. I loved her resolve and dedication, and her passion for botany could be clearly interpreted throughout the novel. It served as a foundation for her relationship with Gray Delacroix, a spice trader who has focused his life on his craft. They butt heads at times, but her Kansas innocence calls to him, and she’s a light in his complicated world. Everything seems to be moving along swimmingly…
“Well, the scales have fallen from my eyes….Good-bye, Annabelle. I hope to the bottom of my soul that I never have to see you again.”
Now that throws a wrench in this little romance, doesn’t it? No romance novel is complete without a heartbreaking or angry disagreement, and The Spice King is no exception. The argument occurs in almost the exact middle of the novel, so you know there’s more to the story. I enjoyed Camden’s tale immensely. I liked the characters–all besides Caroline Delacroix. She got on my nerves, and I wanted to sit her down to shake a finger at her. She was fiercely loyal to her family, which I admired, but at the same time, I wanted to smack her. Caroline flippantly spent money–money which she herself did not earn–as though she believed it to grow on trees.
Anabelle bothered me, too. The book focused so much on her naivete and innocence, and Camden never ceased to remind readers of those elements of her personality. The relationship between Gray and Anabelle, though, seemed real and not forced. It progressed with a natural slowness. Camden also masterfully incorporated humor into The Spice King. The snippets made me smile, and they offered comic relief in otherwise tense moments.
Overall, I enjoyed The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden. I learned facts about U.S. history I did not previously know. With her vivid (but not overwhelming) imagery, Camden pulled me back in time. I read the novel in a day, though I honestly felt no rush to read it. Some novels keep you awake late into the night, but The Spice King does not. It relaxed me, the type of novel that I could pick up and put down again before falling asleep.
Camden does leave some loose ends, but I expect those to be addressed in the second and third books. I’m looking forward to reading them.