Elizabeth Camden’s new series, Hope and Glory, begins with The Spice King. First, let me say how much I LOVE this cover, and it’s pretty representative of the hero…strong, somewhat aloof, and powerful.
The year is 1900 and the setting is Washington, D.C., specifically, the Smithsonian. Annabelle Larkin works as a botanist charged with obtaining Gray Delacroix’s exotic plant collection. The museum is especially interested in a particular species, the rare vanilla orchid. Her job and the protection of her family’s Kansas farm depends on her obtaining it.
Gray Delacroix, the wealthy owner of a spice-manufacturing business, has traveled the world seeking premier spices and rare plants. Since his boyhood during the time of the Civil War, he has distrusted everything related to the U. S. government. No way is he giving anyone or institution involved with the goverment a gift. Then, he meets Annabelle and begins to see a future he never thought he’d experience.
Of course, not everything goes according to plan. That would be boring, wouldn’t it? The characters soon find themselves deep in an intrigue involving Cuba after the Spanish-American war. Gray and his siblings, Luke and Caroline, are soon embroiled in an effort to save lives and the family’s reputation.
For me, Gray was a highly appealing hero. As with most of Ms. Camden’s heroes, he had his gruff and stiff side, but it was tempered with vulnerability and a love for the brother and sister he considered irresponsible.
I started out liking Annabelle. She was strong and clever. But that faded to a toleration about a third of the way through the book. I didn’t dislike her but felt as if she never truly understood the ramifications of her actions. Enough said.
Overall, I recommend The Spice King for its rich historical insight and a family who won’t be prevented from doing what they think is right, as well as the continuing story it holds. Oh, Luke.
I’m giving it 4.5 stars. It’s not her best (nothing will top Against the Tide), but I’m hooked and looking forward to reading the next book.
FYI – This novel does not release until September 3.