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Author: Jennifer Bradbury
May Contain Spoilers
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.
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.
Review copy provided by publisher