Every once in a while, you need to read a book that is a bit whimsical and cleanses your literary palette, so to speak.
City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn was that book for me.
Evangeline Stark, the main character, is an aviatrix who flies around the world with her escapades lauded by her admirers. One of those admirers is her husband, Gabriel, who supposedly died aboard the Lusitania five years earlier.
Stark receives a cryptic photograph which tips her off to Gabriel’s possible life after death and heads to Damascus, known as the City of Jasmine, to try and find out the truth.
While this part sounds like the thriller, it was resolved within the first five chapters of the book, which was a bit disappointing to me. But then, Gabriel (in disguise) and Evangeline embark on another quest, this one potentially fatal.
Gabriel has found a treasure and he’s trying to recover it and send it back with Evangeline to Europe–as amends for the whole faking his own death thing.
Evangeline wants to go along.
Now, this pair isn’t exactly getting along at the start of this journey. They have been “widowed” for five years. The sexual tension Raybourn writes between these characters jumps off the page.
Will Evangeline and Gabriel succeed in their quest? Will they be happy together or better off apart? And what does the mysterious British ambassador have to do with all of this?
City of Jasmine isn’t exactly a love story, isn’t exactly a thriller, isn’t exactly a mystery. But it certainly is a good, quick read that doesn’t take a ton of brain power.
Despite it not living up (in my opinion) to the summary provided on Goodreads and the back cover of the paperback, I did enjoy it. This is the type of book you could easily read on the beach or by the pool and not break much of a sweat.
Raybourn’s writing is crisp, the plot moves quickly and the characters are engaging.
I also appreciated how forward and individual Evangeline is for a woman in the post World War I era. She really does things for herself and I enjoy that.
I’d be curious to know if more will be written about Evangeline and Gabriel. They seem like a duo who could always find a way to find trouble….