Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop on Blinkett Street. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille has no choice but to accept help from the mysterious stranger who came to her aid.
Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content working as a village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may or may not be the answer to his questions.
Curious circumstance throws them together, and an intricate dance of need and suspicion leads the couple from the seedy backwaters of London to the elite neighborhoods of the wealthy to the lush, green Surrey countryside—all in the pursuit of a blood-red gem that collectors will sacrifice anything to possess.
Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, each will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.
From the dregs of London to grand country estates, Sarah Ladd returns readers to the antilogy of simplicity and splendour in Regency England. The Curiosity Keeper is an alluring tale of betrayal, deception and self-discovery, sweetened with restrained romance.
For both Camille and Jonathan, this is primarily a story of asserting independence and freedom of thought when society would dictate they compliantly follow their parents directives. Camille’s escape from her controlling and duplicitous father places her at the mercy of Jonathan Gilchrist’s generosity. Although his family has ulterior motives for extending her conditional and pretentious hospitality, Jonathan balks at their prejudicial mindset. Camille proves that she is not a helpless damsel in distress, although Jonathan’s benevolence and gentility do not go unappreciated. Their unlikely friendship gives way to the early blossoms of romance told through lingering stares, inadvertent touches and honest conversation.
The suspenseful elements, though easily deduced, were a nod to Dickensian villains and mood. Setting the nefarious scenes in a curiosity shop was a resounding win for Sarah Ladd as were her illustrious descriptions and use of setting to enrich the tone and pacing of the book. While in town, the story moved at a brisk pace with a sense of urgency, juxtaposed to the languorous pace at Kettering Hall.
Certainly one of Sarah Ladd’s more complex character driven novels, The Curiosity Keeper exemplifies her growth as a writer with original and intriguing stories. This is certainly a series to follow!
**Disclosure: review copy provided by Litfuse Publicity**