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by Sandra Ardoin

“It is not just a ruby, as you say. It is large as a quail’s egg, still untouched and unpolished. And it is rumored to either bless or curse whoever possesses it.

TCKSFW

Sarah E. Ladd is a new-to-me author. I’d heard great things about her previous books, especially Heiress of Winterwood, so I decided to grab The Curiosity Keeper. It didn’t hurt that the cover is beautiful and the title intrigued me.

Camille Iverness is a curiosity in herself. She’s the daughter of a Portuguese woman who abandoned her family years ago and a gruff man who gave up a genteel lifestyle to open a shop in a rough area of London. Frankly, I questioned how Camille could have turned out so well being raised as she was in the care of her father.

For years, she’s been the shopkeeper and accountant for her father’s business, one that dealt in antiques and whatnots, but she remembers a time of country estates and governesses. Though she isn’t interested in returning to an estate, she longs to leave the closeness and foul air of London for the open spaces and country setting.

Memories of her time in such a setting rushed her. She remembered running through the waving grasses, wading in the trickling streams, breathing air so fresh and clean it practically sparkled.

So long ago …

Jonathan Gilchrist has all that Camille lost, but he doesn’t want it. Thrust into the role of heir to Kettering Hall when his brother died, he’s the second son and a disappointment to his father. Not the adventurous sort like his brother or a collector of odds and ends like his father, Jonathan chose the apothecary trade and lives in a small cottage.

When the Bevoy, a ruby on which the family’s future rests, is stolen from Jonathan’s father, Jonathan is tasked with retrieving it from the man believed to have stolen it—Camille’s father, James Iverness.

This story is peopled with characters who charm and characters who disgust. Some were selfish, some sypathetic. Camille and Jonathan are both gentle and caring souls with a thread of steel to aid them when needed. And they do need it.

Don’t expect a great romance or a strong spiritual thread, but the writing is top-notch, and the climax revealed a couple of interesting twists that I didn’t see coming. It starts and ends with great tension and action. For me, though, it slowed a little too much in the middle of the book and the hero and heroine didn’t seem to be together long enough to fall in love.

For those latter reasons, this one won’t go down as one of my favorite stories for the year. However, there was enough to like about The Curiosity Keeper that I’ll definitely read another of Sarah E. Ladd’s books in the future.

Have you ever read a book with great expectations, then found that while you enjoyed it, it wasn’t quite as good as you anticipated? If it was your first book by that author, did you read anything else from him/her?

Disclosure of Material Connection: This book came to me free from the publisher, Thomas Nelson and NetGalley, with the hope that I would mention it on this blog. There was no requirement for me to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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