by Trish Albright, historical (2009)
Leisure, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-8439-6087-7
The plot of Siren's Secret is a continuation of that in Trish Albright's Leisure debut Siren's Song, but I feel that this one can nonetheless stand alone pretty well as it has minimal references to events that happened in the previous book, with the author filling in the blanks for new readers adequately should the need arises.
Lady Olivia Yates is a sheltered bluestocking who fills her head with both archaeology and languages when she's not dreaming of going on "adventures" in exotic faraway lands like Egypt. You know what they say about how we should be careful of what we wish for: soon Olivia is whisked from London to the land of her dreams, Egypt, searching for her father while she is pursued by Moorish pirates, ruffians, and more. You see, Olivia doesn't know it but her father is involved in something big in Egypt, and a villain wants to use Olivia's impressible ability in translating Egyptian hieroglyphs to discover some long-lost treasure of a mythical kingdom. Fortunately for Olivia (although she doesn't always feel the same way), she is the good company of Samuel Stafford, sea captain and roguish charmer, and his merry crew.
I am going to be pretty much repeating what I said in my review of the author's previous book. Siren's Secret is all about fun. If you like movies like those Indiana Jones films and The Mummy, this one may just be to your liking. The adventure doesn't stop, there are plenty of chases and fights, and the author as usual manages to inject romantic moments in the middle of all that chaos and danger. There are plenty of humorous moments as well.
"No!" Olivia screamed as loud as she could over the confusion. "Wait! I'm here. I'm here!" She pulled off her bandana and wig. Fear and anger ripped through every nerve - anger that they were attacking and fear that they would kill everyone to get her. "You could have just asked for my help instead of being complete malevolent, murdering morons. Have you no humanity? Is your life so pathetic and dull that you must resort to the devil's work?"
It was silent. They all stared at her, obviously confused.
"Who's translating? Someone translate that!" she demanded, furious.
As you can probably tell from the above excerpt, Olivia can behave in very foolish ways, and sometimes she puts herself in grave danger as a result. But because she is a sheltered bluestocking who had never left her comfort zone prior to this, I don't mind her occasional foolhardy moments as, to me, she is behaving exactly in character. It helps that the author doesn't turn Olivia into a toxic stupid creature. Olivia doesn't behave like you may expect a bluestocking would. She is not shy. She doesn't believe in love because she thinks of herself as a woman of science. She also has an exuberant sense of adventure and curiosity that allows her to eventually bloom into a comical yet unexpectedly capable woman of ass-kicking demeanor later in the story. I adore Olivia, she is a fun heroine to follow.
Samuel is also a pretty interesting character in that while he is obviously a capable guy once can depend on to both kick rear ends and save the day, he is also devoid of the mulish recalcitrance, arrogance, and brooding tendencies that you may expect from a hero of his ilk. He falls in love first, hard and gladly, and he has plenty of fun in the process. He is the kind of hero who can still smile and wink at the heroine even when the odds seem stacked against them. I especially adore how he calls the heroine "Professor", heh. Like Olivia, Samuel is a very fun character to follow.
The pacing never lets me down, as the story moves at a great pace from the ballrooms of London to the high seas and down the catacombs of an ancient temple in Egypt. Make no mistake, this is not a "serious" adventure story - the action scenes are over the top, laced with comedy, just like in those movies I mentioned earlier in this review. This is a campy fun rollicking romantic adventure that works very well, making me laugh and whoop in delight very often during my reading of this book. Seriously, it was a pretty dull afternoon when I began reading this book, but after a while, it felt as if the day was definitely picking up with every turn of the page in this book.
So, where is the garish pink background of a keeper review, you ask? I confess that I have to deduct a few points due to annoying abrupt point of view switches here and there. More significantly, the author overdoes that "America is the best!" thing in this story that I eventually begin to roll my eyes every time Samuel becomes the poster boy of Ahoy America propaganda. It is a running gag that Olivia's occasional snobbery toward everything American is due to her English snobbery, but at the same time, the author can be quite hypocritical in that she does exactly what Olivia is accused of doing in her story. Americans are portrayed as enlightened people with no care for ranks and what not. When Ms Albright has Samuel becoming the role model against slavery, that's when I have to snort in disbelief. Who did Ms Albright think bought those slaves from the Moors? It gets to a point that I wish I can tell the author, "Look, how long has it been? America now has Coca-Cola and Disneyworld while the Great Britain has to settle for Jade Goody and Victoria Beckham, so there's no need to bear a grudge, surely?"
Still, there is no denying that Siren's Secret makes me a very happy reader because of its effervescent humor, non-stop action, and two adorable main characters who love hard, play hard, and cheer me up to no end. It's too much fun reading this story. Trish Albright, huh? I'll remember that name.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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