Cara Devon has always suffered curiosity and impetuousness, but tangling with a serial killer might cure that. Permanently.
1861. Cara has a simple mission in London – finalise her father’s estate and sell off his damned collection of priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when a killer stalks the nobility, searching for an ancient Egyptian relic rumoured to hold the key to immortality.
Nathaniel Trent, known as the villainous viscount, is relentless in his desire to lay his hands on both Cara and the priceless artifacts. His icy exterior and fiery touch stirs Cara’s demons, or could he lay them to rest?
Self-preservation fuels Cara’s search for the gem known as Nefertiti’s Heart. In a society where everyone wears a mask to hide their true intent, she needs to figure out who to trust, before she sacrifices her own heart and life.
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♥ My Review ♥
Title: Nefertiti’s Heart (Artifact Hunters, Book 1)
Author: A.W. Exley
Genre: Steampunk-Murder Mystery-Romance-Adventure-Victorian London
Rating: 5 Immortal ♥‘s
This book has everything you could ever want: Murder mystery, airships, sleuthing, ancient mystical artifacts, pompous chauvinistic pigs getting their just desserts – in public, mechanical horses, spoiled debutantes, a hot as hell viscount who may or may not be the bad guy – and a kick ass female lead. Oh yeah, and it’s all set in a Steampunk’d Victorian London! What more could you ask for?
The author’s note simply states that the book is written in British English, which I have no problem with, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s written in plain, British English and not the overly formal Victorian dialect, so it was extremely easy to follow and stay within the story.
Cara Devon was born a noblewoman to a father with a heavy gambling problem, an obsession for ancient artifacts and no love for his unruly daughter. Now, he’s dead. The only reason why she has returned to the city that scorned her, turned its back on her when she needed it most. Her only desire is to find all of the treasures her father has stashed away and sell them so she can stay independently wealthy and free from society’s trappings. But just after her arrival, the daughters of the city’s nobles start turning up dead in very symbolic, ritualistic ways and as the number one suspect for her father’s murder, Cara finds herself under the ruthless scrutiny of the Queen’s Enforcers.
Nathaniel Trent, Viscount Lyons is a self-made man. Though the title is real, his father had brought their family to the brink of bankruptcy leaving him with one option: marry some boring twit for her family’s fortune. Nate chose to start his own airship company, employee sky pirates and become the Lord of the Criminal Underground, instead. No one, not even the Queen’s Enforcers, dare to lay a finger on him or his business. His men are just as untouchable, until the feisty tigress, Cara Devon, decides to send two of them running home with bullet holes, rather than the book they’d been ordered to relieve her of.
A tantalizing game of cat and mouse ensues, rife with sexual tension. All while Cara’s trying to keep her head held high in a society that views her as “damaged, tainted goods” and now wants to blame her for the psycho on the loose killing all the wealthy women her age. Not knowing who to trust, Cara takes on her father’s cryptic journals to track down his hidden relics, while she’s being watched by the authorities and stalked by the villainous viscount.
When the connections start becoming too clear between the serial killings, her father’s murder and one of his relics known as Nefertiti’s Heart, Cara might have to swallow her independent pride and seek the help of the two men she’s been spending so much time avoiding: One copper, one criminal.
In the meantime, she finds herself being called upon to help the women of the city that don’t have the kind of freedom she does, who are still imprisoned by their family names, expectations and most importantly, their valuable reputations. Which, gives Cara ample opportunity to thumb her nose at society even more in the most creative and hilarious ways.
I look forward to reading the rest of this series and would recommend this book to everyone I know, because it doesn’t fit into just one genre or category. It touches on so many things at once. Women’s rights (or lack thereof), the age of invention, the frustration of police work without forensics, the constraints of a backward thinking society, the psychosis of a serial killer and a hint of supernatural intrigue. Of course, at the heart of it all is an emotionally charged romance and the evolution of a woman learning to face the horrors of her past, to discover if she can survive what she might become beyond them.
Trigger Warnings: Mild to moderate graphic depictions of fight scenes, murder, corpses, nudity and sex, as well as memories and discussions of rape and physical abuse.
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