Book Review | The Curiosity Keeper

The Curiosity Keeper
Sarah E. Ladd

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Genre:  Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mysteries
Released:  July 7th, 2015

{Goodreads}
“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 whomever possesses it.”

Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop on Blinkett Street. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille has no choice but to accept help from the mysterious stranger who came to her aid.

Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content working as a village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may or may not be the answer to his questions.

Curious circumstance throws them together, and an intricate dance of need and suspicion leads the couple from the seedy backwaters of London to the elite neighborhoods of the wealthy to the lush, green Surrey countryside—all in the pursuit of a blood-red gem that collectors will sacrifice anything to possess.

Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, each will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.

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WARNING: Possible Spoilers

{The Basics}
Set on the grimy streets of Blinkett Street, London, our story focuses on a small curiosity shop where a young lady spends her days managing the odds and ends of her father's collector's business.  Camille Iverness longs for one thing: to leave Blinkett Street for the tranquil, pastoral scene masterfully crafted in the painting in her bedchamber.  But due to her devotion to her distant--often absent--father, she remains at the shop, managing books and unruly customers.  That is, until someone stages a break-in, injuring her in the process, and she's rescued by handsome stranger Jonathan Gilchrist, who is attempting to recover a valuable ruby stolen from his father's house.  

And the adventure begins.  Jonathan feels of responsible for Camille's protection and seeks to help her find a new position as a schoolteacher in his hometown of Fellsworth, when her homelife is compromised and she must flee for her life.  Camille begins to experience her dream of living in the country again, but mention of the ruby of which she knows nothing about, threatens to take away that dream once and for all.  Meanwhile, she's falling for Jonathan.  But he's a gentleman, expected to inherit the vast estate of Kettering Hall (should the ruby be found) and she's naught but a shopkeeper's daughter, who's father's reputation is rather questionable at that.

{Positives}
Camille is an independent young woman, but she's made the most of her life working in her father's shop and managing the books.  She's the one who, it seems, has actually kept the business alive.  When circumstances force her to flee that life, she's determined to make her own way.

Jonathan, second son of the reputable Ian Gilchrist, wants a simple life.  He could care less for the want of wealth and despises seeing the greed in others.  Instead, he finds satisfaction as his village's local apothecary.

{Negatives}
Both Jonathan's and Camille's fathers are distant to their children.  They care more for material things and neglect their family life.  [This could go in the positives: While Camille's father never really changes, in fact his character seems only to worsen, Ian Gilchrist comes to see that his family is worth more than the wealth he has squandered for a lifetime.  He realizes his mistakes and makes the first step to begin anew.]

A man flirts openly with a woman. Deception plays a large part in the attempt to uncover the whereabouts of the gem--a man and woman work together to gain Camille's trust by feigning friendship in order to gain any knowledge she may have of the ruby.

{Spirituality}
Romans 8:28 is quoted a time or two, and is Camille's comfort verse.  Jonathan attends service at the local church.

{Violence}
A woman is injured by a knife to her arm during a robbery and a man bursts through a window in an attempt to rescue her.  The displayed items of a shop are broken and destroyed in the ensuing struggle.  [SPOILER] Later, that woman is thrown into the streets by her own father.

This isn't really classified as violence, but scarlet fever plagues a few children (and one teacher) in the school where Camille goes to work and she helps to care for them.

A woman is imprisoned in her own bedroom and later tied hand and foot to keep her from escaping.

{Language, Alcohol & Drugs}
"Blackguard."  A man calls a woman, "little waif."

Brandy.  Wine.  Mention of tobacco.  Medicinal herbs and medicine.

{Love-y-ness}
Of course there is attraction between independent Camille and steady Jonathan.  This develops over time, and they hug once and kiss only once.

{Conclusion}
I loved this book! Definitely my kind of story and I would recommend to all my fellow historical-fiction fans.  I mean, come on! it's set in London, 1812.  There is mystery, intensity, a wee bit of romance, and the value of trust and friendship.  This tale kept me on my toes, and had a couple plot twists I was not expecting, but made the story even more intriguing.  Overall, I enjoyed this book! Definitely a keeper.

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Recommended ages: 16+
My rating:


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1 comment

Ally R. said...

I'll have to check this one out further! London 1812 sounds like interesting place to be. :) It's nice that there's a touch of mystery. And, it sounds like the romance doesn't take over the plot, so that's a plus!