2007, Historical Romance (Ancient Egypt)
Leisure, $6.99, 321 pages, Amazon ASIN 0843958219
Lately, a lot of readers, myself included, have lamented the lack of variety in historical romance. Luckily, we have writers like Constance O’Banyon to shake things up. Lord of the Nile, set in ancient Egypt against the turmoil that made Cleopatra queen, is a smooth, solid, old-fashioned story, well told and with a unique setting and characters.
Lord Ramtet is a general in Caesar’s army, finally returning home to Egypt from the Roman battlefields. But his home holds no peace – not yet. Not while there are two warring factions, a brother and sister fighting each other for the throne. Though King Ptolemy has sent his sister Cleopatra into exile, she is far from beaten. She also has the ear – among other body parts – of Caesar, and therefore all the resources of Rome. One of Ramtet’s duties is to see Cleopatra at the very least on par with her brother as dual ruler of Egypt.
Lady Danaë has lived her whole life in the country home of her father, the Royal Tamer of Beasts. He taught her everything there is to know about raising and training big cats, hawks, horses…every animal the kingdom has to offer. Their life is simple and blessed, and she never dreams that it is built on lies. When her father takes to his deathbed, however, he tells her the secrets he’s been holding since before she was born. Her life immediately changes quite dramatically, and she begins her journey to Alexandria and her former tutor’s care.
Ramtet and Danaë meet under unlikely circumstances, ones that are dangerous to both. Ramtet is attempting to keep his loyalty to Caesar under wraps, and Danaë must keep her own counsel about her family history. Circumstances throw them together, however, and when Danaë finds herself labeled as a traitor, Ramtet realizes that, though he barely knows her, he cannot let her die.
What follows is a true old-fashioned historical romance. Readers who enjoy Shieks and kidnapping, you’re in for a treat, because the fantastically new setting makes these familiar plot lines seem fresh. The characters are both likable. Ramtet’s struggle to navigate the political intrigues and protect Danaë is commendable, even if his methods leave a little to be desired. Lady Danaë is amiable, if a bit naïve, and though she is free with her opinions, it is explained early in the story.
My only complaint lies in the reasoning behind two otherwise rational characters being completely unwilling to communicate with each other. Ramtet is somewhat understandable, being a general and used to people obeying without question. But his life would be much easier if he would have just told Danaë what was going on. Ditto for Lady Danaë. She had the opportunity to save her life, but, in the only TSTL moment in the book, refused to talk even when Ramtet explains the gravity of the situation. Of course, he calls her on her dumb behavior, as does a secondary character, which helped me as a reader, but she remains immune, causing more trouble than she’s worth.
Communication issues aside – and, really, what couple doesn’t struggle from time to time? – Lord of the Nile is a great choice for those looking for an old-fashioned love story in a brand new setting.