Deeply introverted Catriona lives for her work at Oxford and her fight for women’s suffrage. She dreams of romance, too, but since all her attempts at love have ended badly, she now keeps her desires firmly locked inside her head—until she climbs out of a Scottish loch after a good swim and finds herself rather exposed to her new colleague.
Elias Khoury has wheedled his way into Professor Campbell’s circle under false pretenses: he did not come to Oxford to classify ancient artifacts, he is determined to take them back to his homeland in the Middle East. Winning Catriona’s favor could be the key to his success. Unfortunately, seducing the coolly intense lady scholar quickly becomes a mission in itself and his well-laid plans are in danger of derailing...
Forced into close proximity in Oxford’s hallowed
halls, two very different people have to face the fact that they might just be
a perfect match. Soon, a risky new game begins that asks Catriona one more time
to put her heart and wildest dreams at stake.
The premise of this series always lured me in (I
*LOVE* Suffragettes!), but occasionally some of the characters were a little
hard for me to like. (Hallmark of a great writer, really, to make a reader
forget these are not real people!) However, this book is, I believe, my
favorite of the series. Undoubtedly it’s because I could identify so much with
the character who is deeply introverted, feels things very deeply, and doesn’t
trust herself when it comes to who she falls in love with. The hero himself is
a delicious scholarly and sensitive sort (beta in the best way) who has come to
befriend her father for rather nefarious reasons: to help steal back some
artifacts to their rightful country.
While the story spins around these two very different people with very different lived experiences who find a connection and risk everything to be together, it is also a story about the relationships of these friends (Hattie, Lucie, Annabelle, and Catriona) and being a modern woman in their time, challenging the status quo while fighting for justice for their sex. I saw plot glimmers that reminded me of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and how she framed her lawsuit to get more rights for women, the constant tug of family and career (“Am I a good mother?”) and the various ways other women have shamed women rather than supported them, and even the pernicious society shaming of “who deserves to wear white on their wedding day?”--we all do, as Bull Durham will tell you. Elias is a very deserving hero–I think my love of the alpha males has gone away and now I’m almost exclusively in love with the kind of men who definitely put consent and kindness before anything else.
There were also other interesting layers of history for this book that I would never have learned if it wasn’t for this story: some history of the Middle East, Maronites, British colonialism, and women’s rights in the 19th century along with the process of passing laws. There was enough information to make the story feel anchored and authentic without bogging down the pace–which is extremely hard to do–so kudos to the author. I wondered many times how the author managed to come across so many history threads to pull them together into one believable story–I am in awe really. I believe she did this as well for her previous books but being the hero was from the Middle East, the history was more apparent (since I read a lot of England set novels I occasionally take the history for granted as something everyone knows) and interesting. I can only hope to find more books like this in the future.
This is marked as book 4 of 4, and there was an
epilogue that suggests this is the last, so I’m interested to see what this
author will be doing next. I’m sure it will be awesome. If you’ve been looking
forward to this book, this is the conclusion I believe you wished for; if you
haven’t read this series, this is a good time to pick up all the books because
in reading this, i wanted to go back and read the others again. Bravo to Ms.
Evie Dunmore–this has been a great series!
Thanks, Hellie! You've definitely piqued my interest.
Readers, have you discovered Evie Dunmore yet?
Are you surprised by the factual tidbits you absorb through reading historical romance and fiction? I knew a Jeopardy answer the other night and turned to the person next to me, saying smugly, "I learned it in a romance novel." ;-)
One randomly chosen person posting a comment before 11:00 PM, December 17 will receive a print copy of The Gentleman's Gambit.
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