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A Spear of Summer Grass (A Spear of Summer Grass #1) by Deanna Raybourn

Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Summary: Paris, 1923

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even amongst Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather's savannah manor house until gossip subsides.

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming-yet fleeting and often cheap.

Amidst the wonders-and dangers-of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for-and what she can no longer live without.
 
Review: I am a big fan of Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey Victorian mystery series and I enjoyed her Gothic standalone The Dead Travel Fast so I was eager to see how she would write about Kenya in the 1920s. As always Raybourn creates the atmosphere of a story through her writing she is able to bring a setting to life, and 1920s Kenya is  a wonderful setting and the events give a great backdrop to the story.
Where I felt this book lost me a little bit was the characters. Delilah was not my cup of tea, she’s hard as nails and selfish. Despite there being a lot of set up for some big character developments based on lost love and failed marriages none happens. I also wish there had been more of an explanation of her relationship with her cousin/companion Dodo, who remains a foil to Delilah for much of the story. I wanted to like her I really did but I found it almost impossible at some points. Ryder, the hero, was not much better but the prequel novella, Far in the Wilds gave some insight into his character that made him seem a little less intolerable. There is a large plot point that arises part way through the book but by that point I found it hard to rouse any sympathy for Delilah.
 
Rating: 2/5 Diamonds

Reviewed by: Jennifer
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