City of Jasmine
By Deanna Raybourn
Harlequin Mira, 2014. 354 pages. Fiction.
Evangeline Starke is an adventuress. But as she reaches the end of a press-celebrated air tour of the Seven Seas, she received a photograph that shakes her to the core: a month-old photograph of her husband estranged Gabriel Starke, who died 5 years previously. Evangeline drops everything to go to Damascus in search of Gabriel and finds herself embroiled with him in a deadly battle between unscrupulous archaeologists in search of a priceless treasure.
I have always loved Raybourn's Lady Julia mysteries, but her stand-alone books have generally left me feeling disappointed. City of Jasmine was much better than I expected, in spite of horrible cover art (I was tempted to cover it in brown paper to protect my reading reputation) and previous stand-alone failures. Raybourn is great a creating witty dialogue between her characters; her characters are also not afraid to talk frankly about difficult issues and work at bettering relationships. There is plenty of action, but it is well-balanced by character development. There is some innuendo and some strong language in the book.