I admit I was very skeptical when I picked this up: the combination of “The Mummy” setting and a female scholar seemed fraught with peril of the wrong kind: strained, melodramatic plots, faux historical color, and an absurdly gorgeous woman with a pair of glasses meant to indicate she’s smart.
I was totally wrong: I loved it. More than loved it: it is one of my favorite romance novels ever, for all time. The combination of Rupert’s head-bashing and Daphne’s prickly bookishness is hilarious, warm, touching, hot. Moreover, Chase uses the Egyptian setting brilliantly. Like it’s heroine, the novel is covertly learned, casually revealing the depth of Chase’s research on European efforts to discover, study, and steal Egyptian antiquities.
Most importantly for this former academic, Daphne is probably the best portrait of a female scholar I’ve ever encountered in a romance or paranormal novel. Usually I find them so agonizing I have to delete the book from my Kindle. Half the time, they resemble the Hollywood version of a female scientist--a woman with glasses, a white coat, and perhaps a clip-board, who looks and talks like she's moonlighting from her regular job as a runway model. Other times they are insufferably self-congratulating, as they are pursued by fantastically wealthy and handsome men who recognize why they are so superior.
But I believed Daphne, both her personality and her situation. She’s no saint: she’s snobbish, prickly, temperamental and anti-social--all qualities that you frequently see in real academics as well as fictional depictions of male academics. Moreover, the novel was full of insights on what it might have been like for a woman trying to pursue a scholarly career in that era: the condescension, the ambition, the frustration, both sexual and career. That she ends up with "Carsington's Hellion son" is too perfect. It's priceless.
In conclusion, it’s a great book in a great series.