Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book Review: City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn

Pages: 400
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: February 25, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Set against the lush, exotic European colonial outposts of the 1920s, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn delivers the captivating tale of one woman who embarks upon a journey to see the world—and ends up finding intrigue, danger and a love beyond all reason.  Famed aviatrix Evangeline Starke never expected to see her husband, adventurer Gabriel Starke, ever again. They had been a golden couple, enjoying a whirlwind courtship amid the backdrop of a glittering social set in prewar London until his sudden death with the sinking of the Lusitania. Five years later, beginning to embrace life again, Evie embarks upon a flight around the world, collecting fame and admirers along the way. In the midst of her triumphant tour, she is shocked to receive a mysterious—and recent—photograph of Gabriel, which brings her ambitious stunt to a screeching halt.  With her eccentric aunt Dove in tow, Evie tracks the source of the photo to the ancient City of Jasmine, Damascus. There she discovers that nothing is as it seems. Danger lurks at every turn, and at stake is a priceless relic, an artifact once lost to time and so valuable that criminals will stop at nothing to acquire it—even murder. Leaving the jewelled city behind, Evie sets off across the punishing sands of the desert to unearth the truth of Gabriel's disappearance and retrieve a relic straight from the pages of history.  Along the way, Evie must come to terms with the deception that parted her from Gabriel and the passion that will change her destiny forever…"
Evangeline "Evie" Starke thought her husband, Gabriel, had died aboard the Lusitania.  What everyone doesn't know is that they were about to get a divorce, but obviously after the tragedy, they never had the chance. Evie didn't just keel over and become depressed, she picked herself up and moved on.  She learned how to fly planes and ended up becoming a famed aviatrix flying around the world with her Aunt Dove in tow.  Five years later she is now famous and has many fans, but something rocks her to the core.  She receives a mysterious photograph of Gabriel and it's not just any photo; it has been taken recently in Damascus.  How could that be? She thought he was dead? Along with her aunt, they head to Damascus to figure out what exactly is going on and if Gabriel is actually alive. She finds herself in the middle of a "war" between many people over a priceless artifact that it seems everyone wants. What she is surprised to find is the fact that Gabriel is in the thick of the struggle for "the Cross."  Raybourn sends readers on a whirlwind adventure to Damascus in the 20s; it's such a captivating setting and a fun adventure.  Fans of Raybourn won't be disappointed in City of Jasmine.  

Evie is such an entertaining heroine in City of Jasmine. She flies planes, she's spirited, and she is unconventional.  I loved following along in her adventure to Damascus.  Evie is an independent woman, which is a rarity in the 20s, so I knew this story would be an exciting adventure.  I also really enjoyed the secondary character of her Aunt Dove.  She was glamorous, charismatic and she, like Evie, was very independent and marched to her own beat.

Evie's relationship with Gabriel wasn't as "romantic" as I was hoping for in City of Jasmine and what I mean by that is they had a love/hate relationship.  What I thought was going to be a romantic read was more of an adventure/mystery with touches of romance here and there.  I don't blame Evie though, because she thought Gabriel was dead, so she wasn't going to just fall right back into his arms until she figured out exactly what he was up to.  I was just as surprised as Evie to "find" Gabriel in Damascus and immediately wanted to understand why he faked his death. Raybourn slowly shares his secrets, which was definitely one of the most interesting things about City of Jasmine.  Things definitely aren't what they seem with not only Gabriel but the other people in Damascus who, along with Gabriel, are looking for ancient artifacts.

Gabriel and Evie's relationship reminded me a bit of the love interests and witty banter in the Indiana Jones movies as well as the oldie but goodie, Romancing the Stone.  Evie and Gabriel knew they had to work together despite their differences, they obviously still had feelings for each other, but they drove each other crazy at times.  So, yes, there was some romance in City of Jasmine, but not right off the bat.  Being a romance fan, I wish there had been just a little bit more.

Like I said, Raybourn's novels remind me so much of the adventures in Indiana Jones and I know I have said this before when I read A Spear of Summer Grass. I love that aspect of her novels.  It isn't just about romance and a beautiful setting, it's also about adventure and mystery.  So, if that is your thing, I encourage you to pick up City of Jasmine this winter. If anything, it was a nice way to escape the snow and cold and be swept away by the captivating and magical world of Damascus in the 1920s.


  1. Ooooo cool. I do love this time period.

    1. It was a really fun time period to read about, especially with the setting being in Damascus…I have never read a book that takes place there, so that was fun! Thanks for visiting, Juju!

  2. This sounds pretty fun. I was a huge Indiana Jones/Romancing the Stones fan back in the day. It's too bad the romance wasn't exactly what you wanted, but I love a good adventure every once in awhile. I may check this one out. Great review!

    1. Me too! The romance was a little light compared to the other novel I read by her, but it was still pretty entertaining. The setting was pretty fantastic and the adventure was fun. If you do check it out, you will have to let me know what you think! Thanks for visiting, Natalie.

  3. Since I'm a romance fan right along with you, I'll likely be wanting more in that department as well, but I love the sound of Evie! The fact that she's a pilot is awesome, and I'm definitely curious to read the banter between her and Gabriel. Fantastic review Christina!

    1. Evie is such a fun character….like a heroine from Indiana Jones story…definitely loved her. Thanks for visiting, Jenny!


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