Spotlight: The Marriage Merger by Jennifer Probst and Giveaway!

Today is the release day for the final book in Jennifer Probst’s Marriage to a Billionaire series.  The first book in the series, The Marriage Bargain, will always hold a special place in my heart because it got me reading series romance again.  I really loved that book, and how the author was able to make Nicholas a worthy partner for spirited Alexa.  He was such a pinhead in the beginning of the book!  I did not like him at all, and was getting nervous that I never would.  But enter one mangy dog, and Nick’s attitude on life changed forever.  Alexa was also like a freight train. Once she had a goal, nothing was going to stop her from achieving it. If you haven’t read this series yet, please do consider giving it a go.

 

About the book:

Her sisters have found wedded bliss with their wealthy,wonderful dream men, but not Julietta Conte. She’s stayed on terra firma as top executive of the family’s corporation, La Dolce Famiglia bakery. Work is her passion, and her trendy Milan apartment her sanctuary . . . until Sawyer Wells, a masculine masterpiece in a suit, lures her out of hiding with an irresistible offer: an exclusive partnership with his international chain of boutique hotels.

Julietta’s been burned before—and trusting her brother-in-law’s friend, whose powerful gaze alone has her rethinking the best use of a conference room, is the riskiest proposition. But with a once-in-a-career chance to take the bakery global, will she mix stone-cold business with red-hot seduction?

Giveaway!

Thanks to Gallery Books, I have a copy of The Marriage Merger to giveaway. Just fill out the widget for your chance to win. US addresses only, please.

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Links to purchase the other books in the series:

Interview with Lisa Luedeke, Author of Smashed

Lisa Luedeke is the author of Smashed, which releases today from Margaret K. McElderry Books.  Lisa stopped by the virtual offices to introduce herself and chat about her new book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Lisa Luedeke] Yoga- loving

Mama-doting

Can’t get her face out of a book;

Loves her quiet, her woods, her lake,

Her family & friends,

Just give her that writing time

And all will be fine.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Smashed?

[Lisa Luedeke] Sure. It’s really a story about trying to fill a hole in your life, in your emotional life, and making the wrong choices as you try to do that. Katie’s dad, an alcoholic, abandoned her family when she was twelve, and her mother is never around. She’s basically on her own, with the help of a couple of good friends, and a mentor in her high school field hockey coach, but it’s not enough. After she gets involved with bad-boy Alec, Katie tries to get herself back on track, but one night she makes a mistake she can’t take back, and when lies follow to cover it up, things get out of control.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Lisa Luedeke] When I was seventeen, I was in a terrifying car accident. My best friend and I were asked by a teacher to go on a school errand. We were in my friend’s car and he was driving. It was a cold, wet, November day, and a slushy snow was building up on windy back road in Maine. My friend was a careful driver; we were only going 30 miles an hour—I remember looking at the speedometer. But as we were going around a corner, the slush took hold of the wheels of the car and pulled us into the other lane, just as a car was coming toward us. My friend tried to gain control of the car, to get us back on our side of the road, and we started to turn in the right direction. The last thing I remember was thinking we were going to miss that car by an inch…When I came to, there was blood splattered down the front of my sweater and I thought my friend might be dead.

We were both fine, but that moment wouldn’t leave me for many years. Writing about a difficult time can be cathartic, but I didn’t want to write about that accident. I have no interest in writing memoir. And that particular incident didn’t have the characteristics of a compelling story—it was simply bad luck, bad timing, bad weather.

So I began to do what-ifs…What if an accident was someone’s fault? What if the driver was drunk? And what if the passenger, who was hurt, was not a friend, but someone the driver didn’t even like? Someone she was trying to get away from? As I asked these questions, a situation emerged that interested me, and that’s what I need—a situation that is complex enough to keep me interested as a writer. Then I ask myself, who would find themselves in this particular situation? For me, characters emerge from conflict.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Katie?

[Lisa Luedeke] Self-reliant

Lonely

Tough

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Alec would never have in his pocket?

[Lisa Luedeke] A love note

Bubble gum

A coupon

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Katie’s single most prized possession?

[Lisa Luedeke] Her field hockey stick

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Lisa Luedeke] First, the natural world. I think and write best while I’m hiking or walking in the countryside near my home. When I’m out there, I problem solve my current story. Mull over whatever it is that I’m struggling with. Everything begins to get unstuck, to flow, and then a scene will come to me. If I like it, I rehearse it again and again in my mind, and when I get home I’m ready to write.

Robert Cormier & S.E Hinton’s YA books had a great influence on me, particularly The Chocolate War and The Outsiders. I wanted to write books that had the heart of Hinton’s books and the edge of Cormier’s. Cormier’s gone now, but he’s still one of the best writers in the YA field. Interestingly, neither of them wrote about girls (Cormier did in one book, but said he found it very difficult.) I knew I wanted to honestly portray girls’ lives in the pages of my books.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Lisa Luedeke] Ideally, a long walk to get a scene flowing—then a big mug of dark coffee and a quiet space. But I’m learning to write on airplanes!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Lisa Luedeke] Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains. It’s an absolutely amazing historical novel about a slave girl from Rhode Island who’s sold to a family in New York City during the American Revolution. I loved the character with my whole heart, and the narrative is gripping—but I also learned a great deal about the revolution and slavery during that time period.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Lisa Luedeke] From my earliest memories, I loved to read. Everything. The Witch Who Wasn’t was an early favorite, though I can’t find it now; I think it’s out-of-print. Go Ask Alice was the book that turned me on to YA literature when I was ten.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Lisa Luedeke] Ashtanga yoga, hiking, skiing, swimming, reading, hanging out with friends & family.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Lisa Luedeke] Lisaluedeke.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisa-Luedeke/224769940928276

lisa.lue@hotmail.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order Smashed from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below. Available in print and digital

Review: The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich

 

Title: The Midwife of Venice

Author: Roberta Rich

Publisher: Gallery Books

ISBN: 978-1451657470

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Hannah Levi is renowned throughout Venice for her gift at coaxing reluctant babies from their mothers—a gift aided by the secret “birthing spoons” she designed. But when a count implores her to attend to his wife, who has been laboring for days to give birth to their firstborn son, Hannah is torn. A Papal edict forbids Jews from rendering medical treatment to Christians, but the payment he offers is enough to ransom her beloved husband, Isaac, who has been captured at sea. Can Hannah refuse her duty to a suffering woman? Hannah’s choice entangles her in a treacherous family rivalry that endangers the baby and threatens her voyage to Malta, where Isaac, believing her dead in the plague, is preparing to buy his passage to a new life. Not since The Red Tent or People of the Book has a novel transported readers so intimately into the complex lives of women centuries ago or so richly into a story of intrigue that transcends the boundaries of history.,

Review:

After reading this book, I wonder how anybody survived childbirth in the 16th century.  Ugh!  I found this historical drama about Hannah, a Jewish midwife, fascinating, and couldn’t put it down.  I didn’t find the chapters chronicling Isaac’s captivity on Malta as compelling, but I did find that their alternating POV worked well for this novel. 

Hannah is a Jewish midwife living in the Jewish ghetto of Venice.  Her husband, Isaac, has been captured by at sea while trying to make a fortune trading, and is waiting in Malta to be ransomed.  Desperate to free her beloved husband and have him returned to her, Hannah agrees to help a wealthy Christian deliver a baby, despite the Papal edict prohibiting Jews from rendering medical aid to Christians.  Immediately at odds with the Rabbi, Hannah’s decision could bring disaster to the ghetto.  The Christians don’t need much of an excuse to bring death to the Jews, but Hannah is determined to earn the money to free her husband.

The first few chapters of this book are INTENSE.  Hannah is willing to put the lives of everyone in the ghetto on the line to deliver the Contessa’s baby, and she is going to need a miracle if both mother and baby are to survive.  Lucia has been in labor for days, and is bleeding uncontrollably.  The baby is turned and won’t survive for much longer.  Hannah has a terrible choice to make; save the mother or save the infant?  This entire scene had me on the edge of my seat, and I couldn’t stop reading until I learned the outcome.  The thought of Hannah having to use the crochet was just horrifying!  And the thought that her contemporaries believed the crochet a more acceptable instrument than Hannah’s forceps gave me pause.  To be accused of being a witch for developing a valuable medical tool makes no sense to my 21st century mind, but within the religious confines of 1575 Venice, witchcraft it was.  If discovered, Hannah would have been imprisoned and tortured for performing witchcraft.

At times the prose kept me distanced from the characters.  It felt sparse, with only the most necessary of emotions and details peppered throughout the narration.  While I quickly grasped Hannah’s damp and dreary Venice, as well as Isaac’s imprisoning Malta, I wanted more.  I wanted to know more about Hannah’s life in the ghetto.  The historical framework was so interesting that I would have welcomed more of it.

The ending is too convenient to be believable, but overall, The Midwife of Venice is a tense, gripping read.  If you enjoy historical drama, this book will be right up your alley.

Grade: B

Available in both Print and Digital

Review copy provided by publisher

 

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Review: Deadly by Julie Chibbaro

 

Title: Deadly

Author: Julie Chibbaro

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 978-0689857393

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Join the search for Typhoid Mary in this early twentieth-century CSI. Now in paperback!

Prudence Galewski doesn’t belong in Mrs. Browning’s esteemed School for Girls. She doesn’t want an “appropriate” job that makes use of refinement and charm. Instead, she is fascinated by how the human body works—and why it fails.

Prudence is lucky to land a position in a laboratory, where she is swept into an investigation of a mysterious fever. From ritzy mansions to shady bars and rundown tenements, Prudence explores every potential cause of the disease to no avail—until the volatile Mary Mallon emerges. Dubbed “Typhoid Mary” by the press, Mary is an Irish immigrant who has worked as a cook in every home the fever has ravaged. But she’s never been sick a day in her life. Is the accusation against her an act of discrimination? Or is she the first clue in solving one of the greatest medical mysteries of the twentieth century? 

Review:

When I first sat down with Deadly, I was just a bit apprehensive.  The first few pages didn’t exactly grab me, and I was afraid I was in for a slow, dull read.  My apprehension quickly disappeared.  This book is fantastic, and I quickly started looking at the world in a whole new way.  Bacteria?  What an interesting organism!  When Prudence was finally allowed a peek through a microscope, her enthusiasm was contagious.  What is this tiny, living thing that makes people so ill?  Just like Prudence, I longed to learn more about typhoid fever and how to stop its persistent spread through 1906 New York.

I love a book that does make me think, and Deadly is one of those books.  Prudence is such a smart young woman, curious about science and the human body, but because she is woman, her inquisitive nature is destined to go nowhere.  She is enrolled at a school to learn how to run a household and be a proper wife, which bores her to tears.  She wants to do something meaningful; she wants to help people, so nobody else has to watch a loved one die of illness. When she is hired to work at the Department of Health and Sanitation, she is given an outlet for her curiosity.  Hired because of her neat penmanship and ability to type, she is quickly challenged to use her mind, too.  Her supervisor’s current task is to find the cause of the typhoid fever outbreak and put an end to it before anyone else dies of the disease.

Deadly is a character driven book, and what characters it has!  I loved Prudence, despite her cool reserve.  She isn’t one to easily show her emotions, but she is constantly plagued by them.  Because she wants to make a good impression on her new coworkers, she won’t allow herself to appear weak or womanly before them.  Instead, she’s all business; she wants to prove that she is worthy of her new position, and she devotes herself to assisting Mr. Soper.  She is also still hurting from her brother’s death and the disappearance of her father, who is missing in action from the Spanish American War.  Because of these losses, she is reluctant to risk being hurt again, so she keeps a wall around her emotions.

As Mr. Soper and Prudence begin to suspect that an Irish immigrant is responsible for the outbreak of typhoid, Prudence is assailed with moral and ethical questions.  Is it right to forcibly isolate Mary for the public good?  Do the ends always justify the means?  These questions had me Googling so many issues brought up in the novel.  How could a healthy person spread a disease they never had? What happened to Mary after the events in the book?  How did the typhoid outbreak end?  The book left me with lots of questions that I wanted answers for.  The mere idea that installing toilets in separate rooms at boarding houses made me realize how far medical advances have come in just over 100 years.  Indoor plumbing cut down on the transmission of so many diseases, and yet there are still millions of people without the luxury of toilets!

If you are looking for an engrossing, intelligent read, look no further than Deadly.  Peopled with wonderful, intriguing characters, this book will make you think differently about science and medicine.  I could not put it down, and when I wasn’t reading it, I was telling other people about it, and discussing germs with them.  Much like the bacteria researched in the story, Deadly will get under your skin, without all of the yucky side effects of typhoid!

Grade:  A

Review copy provided by {teen} book scene

 

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Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

 

Title: The Pledge

Author: Kimberly Derting

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

ISBN: 978-1442422018

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. Her only place of release is the drug-filled underground club scene, where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. Through a series of violent upheavals, it becomes clear that Charlie herself is the key to forcing out the oppressive power structure of her kingdom….

Review:

I enjoyed this book more than the grade below indicates, but I had high, high expectations going into my reading experience, and these expectations weren’t all met.  The Pledge is a highly readable book, with high tension. It was hard to put down, and I was able to breeze through it very quickly.  I was disappointed, however, with some of the decisions that protagonist Charlie made, especially considering the high stakes involved here.  I also didn’t like how long it took for Charlie to put two and two together when the solutions to most of her questions were right in front of her.  That was frustrating at times.

Charlie lives in a highly segregated society.  There is one common language that everyone is allowed to speak, as well as different languages for the various classes in her society.  It is forbidden to even look at a speaker of a higher caste when they are speaking.  As a member of the Vendor class, Charlie isn’t at the bottom of social system, but she is nowhere near the top.  That she can understand all languages, spoken and tactile, is an ability that can get her killed.  It is her one great secret – no one can ever know that she can understand what everyone is saying around her.

Charlie’s parents have drilled and drilled the importance of keeping her mysterious skill a secret, and yet she runs into trouble early in the novel when she allows a girl from a higher caste to believe that she can understand a conversation she is having with her family.  Sydney has been tormenting Charlie and her friends for a long time, so when Sydney’s family stops at the restaurant that Charlie’s parents operate, only trouble can follow.  Charlie lets her anger control her, and almost exposes her secret, and by failing to look down while Sydney is speaking, she still breaks a law, one with a penalty that equals death.  Only by sheer luck and the grace of Sydney’s father is she spared. 

One of the elements of the story that did not work for me was Charlie’s easy acceptance of her ability.  It is something that can get her killed.  It is something that forced her father to go to frightening lengths to protect her.  It is something that shouldn’t be possible, and yet, here she is, fluent in every language, even languages she has never heard before.  It frustrated me that she didn’t seek an explanation for this forbidden skill.  I also didn’t understand why her parents would put her at so much risk by not telling her anything about it.  Charlie is essentially a walking time bomb.  Since she is fluent in every language, since she understands every word spoken around her, by her very nature, she has a difficult time telling when one language changes to another.  She has to focus all of her attention on hiding this, and it is only a matter of time before she screws up, in a big, big way.  I didn’t feel that her parents were doing her any favors by keeping so much about her background a secret.

The other aspect that irked me was her sudden attraction to Max.  This is a common story element in romance, but the love at first sight trope is especially common in YA, and it usually drives me bonkers.  I thought that in this setting, in this story, Charlie shouldn’t have been in insta-love with Max.  There is so much more at stake than a broken heart here, and this one plot thread didn’t win me over.   Charlie is a smart girl, and she knows that discovery of her gift could bring death to her, and quite possibly her family.  I just didn’t buy that she would throw that all away for Max, a guy she had just met.  Even though he was gorgeous.  (And I liked Xander better, which didn’t help me to understand Charlie’s fixation for Max!)

The Pledge is a quick, exciting read, with a very interesting dystopian setting.  Certain elements didn’t work for me, but I still could not put the book down until I reached the final page.  The characters are likeable, there’s some wonderful action, and the ending is satisfying.  Though this is slated to be a trilogy, this book stands on its own, which is a bit of a rarity these days.  If it wasn’t for all of the pre-press hype, my expectations wouldn’t have been so hard to fulfill.

Grade: B-

Review copy obtained from my local library

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Review: Cleopatra Confesses by Carolyn Meyer

 

 

Title: Cleopatra Confesses

Author: Carolyn Meyer

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 978-1416987277

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

It is the first century B.C. Cleopatra, the third of the pharaoh’s six children, is the one that her father has chosen to be the next queen of Egypt. But when King Ptolemy is forced into exile, Cleopatra is left alone to fend for herself in a palace rife with intrigue and murder. Smart, courageous, ambitious and sensuously beautiful, she possesses the charm to cause two of history’s most famous leaders to fall in love with her. But as her cruel sisters plot to steal the throne, Cleopatra realizes there is only one person on whom she can rely–herself.

Review:

Even though I’ve read a ton of books about Cleopatra, I am always excited to discover another one.  She is one of the most fascinating women in history.  She held territory hungry Rome at bay for years, and remained the ruler of her country.  She loved books and reading, and was a serious student.  She was descended from Alexander the Great, the greatest warrior the world has ever known.  How could this woman not kick major butt?

Despite the allure behind her name, there’s not really much known about her.  The historic accounts of her life were written mostly by Romans, and let’s face it, they weren’t her biggest fans.  With the wave of her hand, she swayed two of their strongest generals to her side, and kept them there until their deaths.  When her world started collapsing around her, when she felt the snarling teeth of Rome snapping at her, she still kept her dignity and pride firmly intact.  How can you not admire a woman who gave some much of herself to her people, and sought to be a better ruler than even her father?

I love fictional accounts of the lives of historical figures.  Reimagining and breathing life into them, building a story based on what little is known of their day to day lives, I have always enjoyed books like Cleopatra Confesses.  While at times a little too textbook like, I couldn’t put this down.  The story starts when Cleopatra is a young girl, and her father is away in Rome, trying to barter with the Romans to keep them out of Egypt.  Never a wise ruler, her father pushes the country to the brink of financial ruin.  As Cleopatra witnesses the hardship placed on the populace, the people who have been tasked with paying for the enormous debts incurred by her father, she vows to be a wiser ruler.

The tension between Cleopatra and her power hungry siblings is a major plot point in the book.  She has nobody she can truly trust, and everyone seems to have something to gain from her death.  With her mother dead and her father not quite stable, Cleopatra has to learn to depend on herself and her own judgment.  Life is neither easy nor safe of the young princess, and her  sharp tongue and typical child’s lack of common sense gets her into a lot of trouble.  As the years pass, events do begin to temper her, and she learns to be more cunning.  While trying to avoid the attention of her older sisters, Cleopatra perfected the game of politics that would serve her so well later in her life.

I wish that the book has been longer, and that her later years had been exploded with more depth.  We are given a large taste of her childhood, as she sails with her father down the Nile, but the rest of her life comes off as being short-changed.  Despite this and the occasional info dumping, I really liked this book.  I felt like I was there, in Egypt, seeing events unfold with Cleopatra. 

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

Picture Book Review: Say Hello to Zorro! by Carter Goodrich

 

 

Title: Say Hello to Zorro!

Author: Carter Goodrich

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 978-1416938934

I first saw the cover for this book in a Simon and Schuster catalog and my cute-o-meter started blaring very loudly in my head.  Examining the two dogs, I wondered what the book was about.  Look at the expressions on their faces!  Zorro (pug) looks just a wee-bit crabby, and Mister Bud has a look of apprehension.  Why?  Why??  I couldn’t wait to find out!

The library finally got a copy, and after a week of checking my hold list obsessively, it was my turn to check it out.  When I got home from the library, the first thing I did was sit down and read it.  Was it as enjoyable as I had hoped?  You bet!!  It is such a cute book, and if you have little ones who love dogs, they will love this too!

Mister Bud is a happy dog.  He has a schedule.  Everybody sticks to the schedule.  Everybody!  No exceptions!  Until the day the stranger came to stay…

Mister Bud has a very busy day, so it is easy to see why he feels the need to keep to a schedule.  There is wake-up time, walk time, nap time, greet and make a fuss time.  As you can see, his days are jam packed with important activities.  Then that little Zorro moves in, and Mister Bud has a few adjustments to make…

I loved the theme of Say Hello to Zorro!  Despite their differences, the dogs begin to realize that they were having more fun when they are together.  Life is more exciting!  Naps is more comfortable.  They are BFF!

The watercolor illustrations are squee worthy.  Really!  I admit that I am so mushy when it comes to animals, but Mister Bud and Zorro are adorable!  Mister Bud has a huge, expressive nose (how is that possible?) and Zorro’s smaller face is so precious!  The muted shades of color compliment the earthy tones of the dogs, and the paintings have just enough detail to provide an interesting sense of visual complexity. 

Recommended

Review copy obtained from my local library

Review: Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

 

 

Title: Wrapped

Author: Jennifer Bradbury

Publisher: Atheneum

ISBN: 978-1416990079

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history.

Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.

Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.

Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.

This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy. It’s a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny—unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.

Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.

Review:

I love Regencies, and I love Egyptian history, so when I heard about Wrapped, I thought that the book would be right up my alley.  While there were a few spots that seemed to drag a bit, I enjoyed reading about rebellious Agnes as she navigates through a deadly set of circumstances that threatens the outcome of the war with France.  After stumbling into a deadly mystery, Agnes, with the help of Caedmon, a young museum employee, must save England from Napoleon, spies, and a supernatural threat left by the Egyptian pharaohs, without getting herself – or her new friend – killed.

Agnes is such a clever girl, and it’s a shame that she’s bound by duty to wed a man of her parents choosing and settle down to a life suitable for a proper young lady in 1815.  Though her father has indulged her love of learning, her mother thinks all of the tutors, and all of Agnes’ reading, are nothing but a waste of time.  She’s soon to make her debut, find the perfect match, and start a family of her own.  She certainly doesn’t need to know how to speak 10 languages to do that!  In fact, Agnes’ intelligence is a strike against her within the rigid confines of her social class.  Once she’s married, she won’t be able to think for herself.  Ugh!  While it is a complete drag to have to work for a living, I cannot imagine having so little say in my own life!  No wonder Agnes chafes at the thought of getting married so quickly!

When Lord Showalter, the most eligible bachelor in Hyde Park, takes a fancy to her, it looks like her future will be golden.  Things take a drastic turn of the deadly when she is invited to an unwrapping party at Showalter’s.  While Agnes balks at the thought of removing the wrappings from a mummy for entertainment purposes, she none the less performs as she’s expected.  Unfortunately, she recovers an object that threatens both her life and her country.  Who would have known that desecrating the body of an ancient Egyptian would lead to so much trouble?

While I enjoyed the book and the ensuing mystery, I did find myself growing weary of all of Agnes’ missed opportunities to confide in her father, an important parliamentary member.  The time was never right, despite the ample occasions available to admit that she’d gotten in over her head.  Yes, it would have been extremely embarrassing to admit to her petty theft, but given the stakes of the game she was playing, a bit of personal discomfort would have been worth it. 

I thought the forbidden romance between Agnes and Caedmon was well done, and the final resolution satisfied my inner romantic.  The class differences between them were impossible to over look.  While Agnes was a rebel, her mother never would have accepted her suitor of choice.  Even Agnes was taken aback by the depth of her feelings for the penniless museum employee, who spent far too much time for his liking dusting the artifacts in the Egyptian antiquities department.  I was happy that they were able to find a HEA.

With an engaging heroine and a dangerous game of cat and mouse, Wrapped delivers a solid mystery.  The ending tidily tied up all of the loose plot threads, but I am hoping for a sequel.  Agnes and Caedmon make too good a team to only have one outing together.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher