Title: Priestess of the Nile
Author: Veronica Scott
Publisher: Carina Press
For Mature Readers
May Contain Spoilers
Egypt, 1500 BC
Drawn to his abandoned temple on the banks of the Nile by an enchanting song, Sobek the Crocodile God is even more captivated by the sight of the singer herself. Appearing to her as a man, he learns she is Merys, a descendant of his last priestess. Though filled with lust, Sobek believes Merys deserves to be more than just his mistress. But the rules that govern the Egyptian pantheon forbid anything beyond a physical joining of a Great One and a human.
Merys is attracted to the handsome stranger, who arouses passions in her that no man ever has. But with no dowry and no hope of ever leaving her village, she dares not dream of the future—or love.
Sobek takes every opportunity to visit Merys, taxing his resolve to leave her pure. When he saves her life, their mutual desire must be sated. But can a love between a human and an immortal survive the ultimate test of the gods?,
I love books set in Ancient Egypt (and Greece and Rome – any ancient setting, for that matter!) so when I saw Priestess of the Nile on Netgalley, I very eagerly requested it. I was even overjoyed to see that it was a novella, because I am rather swamped with full-length novels, and I knew I would be able to get to it sooner, as the time commitment wasn’t as overwhelming. Despite some reservations, I did find this a fast, diverting read.
Merys is the oldest daughter of the village scribe, but she has been relegated to a servant’s role in her own home. Ever since her father remarried, life has been difficult for Merys. Her stepmother has made it very clear that she won’t be receiving even a pittance for a dowry, and without one, the chances of her finding a suitable husband are slim. Instead, she has sadly resigned herself to waiting on her step-mother and her half-siblings, hand and foot. Her only joy comes from caring for her youngest sister, and from worshipping the crocodile god, Sobek. The women in Merys family had long served Sobek, until the god fell out of favor in her village. She still tends to the abandoned temple as best she can, and she continues to uphold important ceremonies honoring the god.
When Sobek, in human guise, meets and falls in love with the gentle Merys, he realizes that he can never be with her. It is forbidden for a god to take a human wife, and the goddess Isis is terrifying in her adherence to the rules. Taking what joy he can find with Merys, careful to keep their relationship a secret, he is powerless to forge a future with her. When tragedy dogs his footsteps, no one will be safe from his wrath. Can the savage god find peace for Merys and for himself?
This is a short read, about 21,000 words, and it kept me entertained to the last page. Both protagonists are likable, and I wanted them to find a HEA. Since their relationship was forbidden, I wasn’t sure how this could happen, so I found the final resolution satisfying, though just a bit too convenient. Given the page constraints, though, I was not disappointed with the ending.
The aspect of the story that I didn’t buy was Merys servant status in her own house. This reminded me of Cinderella set in an ancient world setting, but I didn’t feel that her circumstances were adequately explored. Her father is still alive, he is an esteemed person in their village, and with her upper middle-class background, there was no reason for Merys to be resigned to a life of servitude in her father’s house. If anything, as the eldest child, she should have had a higher standing. There was no compelling reason given for her to be a virtual slave, other than for plot convenience.
Other than my one gripe above, I found this a worthwhile way to spend time waiting for the New Year’s festivities to begin. I haven’t read many Carina titles, but the few that I have were entertaining. I am looking forward to exploring more Carina titles in 2012.
Available January 23, 2012
Review copy provided by publisher