Saturday, May 18, 2013

Book Review: A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn

Pages: 370
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 30, 2013
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Paris, 1923 - The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even amongst Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather's savannah manor house until gossip subsides.  Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.   Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming-yet fleeting and often cheap.   Amidst the wonders-and dangers-of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for-and what she can no longer live without."

The year is 1923 and Delilah Drummond is an unconventional socialite whose current husband has  died before their divorce went through; the media is convinced she has played a role in it; however, that is not the case.  Her family, especially her grandfather who gives her an "allowance", is embarrassed by her behavior and sends her off to Kenya, on her ex-stepfather's estate.  Once there, Delilah finds Fairlight, the estate, in a state of ruin.  She and her cousin/companion decide to transform Fairlight back to its original state and while there focusing on this project, it is Africa that transforms Delilah.  Delilah meets many new people, goes on many adventures, befriends Africans, and is in awe of the beauty of Kenya as well as its dangers. Deanna Raybourn's A Spear of Summer Grass is a vivid tale involving romance, friendship, moving on from life's tragedies, and survival, but ultimately, it's a story about how it is never too late to start over.

I was instantly a fan of Delilah in A Spear of Summer Grass. Sure, she's callous, brutally honest, promiscuous, and rude at times, but she's oh-so-fun. That's how I like my heroines, much like Scarlett O'Hara. I like heroines who can hold their own and speak their minds and that most definitely is Delilah.  I originally thought she was going to die in Kenya. Seriously! But she is so much more than a party girl who likes to wear fancy clothes and drink champagne. While in Kenya, she demonstrates her ability to be tough, expertly shoot a gun, defend herself, get her hands dirty and even help the sickly.  So on one hand, she likes the finer things in life and needs a lady's maid, but there's so much more to her than just that.  I especially liked learning more about her past and why she acts the way she does.  

Enter Ryder White, Delilah's love interest in A Spear of Summer Grass, and a man who seems the opposite of the type of guy she'd go for. He is extremely rough around the edges, has a reputation as being a ladies' man, and is a hunter/tracker. While I was reading, Ryder seemed like an Indiana Jones type of character to me, which I love. *Swoon!* He was rugged, handsome, can rock a suit if need be, and can give it right back to Delilah. As Delilah got to know him and their relationship evolved, he also brought more to the table than just a tough guy who knows Kenya and the animals very well.

Surprisingly, there's a lot of action in A Spear of Summer Grass.  Some of the action/violence, to both people and animals, did make me cringe time to time, but I was able to stick with the novel.  There's even a murder mystery aspect of the story that had me guessing for sometime.  

The setting of Kenya was awe inspiring. Raybourn did an outstanding job bringing the beauty of Africa to life and the incredible scenery as well as the dangers that lurk around every corner.  I honestly felt like I was visiting Kenya; that is how detailed and vivid Raybourn's descriptions are.

A Spear of Summer Grass is the perfect read for summer, because it has everything that a beach read should and more.  For fans of steamy romances, you won't be disappointed by this book and if you love historical reads, you will enjoy the time period and the setting.  If A Spear of Summer Grass sounds like a book that you'd want in your beach bag this summer, be sure to check out my giveaway for two paperback copies.


  1. I thought Delilah was similar to Scarlett O'Hara too and like you I enjoyed the setting a lot. I am glad you loved the book. I still prefer the Lady Julia Grey mysteries but this was a nice change.

    1. I will have to check out the Lady Julia Grey mysteries...definitely sounds like something I'd like. Thanks for visiting, Christina!

  2. It sounds like the author did a fabulous job writing the setting. And there's a murder mystery aspect? This one is going on my wishlist :)

    Fab review!

    1. The setting was one of the best parts, Lea! I hope you enjoy this book as well. Thanks for visiting!


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