The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden
Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building an acclaimed global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Resolved to salvage his family before they spiral out of control, he returns to his ancestral home for good after years of traveling the world.
As a junior botanist for the Smithsonian, Annabelle Larkin has been charged with the impossible task of gaining access to the notoriously private Delacroix plant collection. If she fails, she will be out of a job and the family farm in Kansas will go under. She has no idea that in gaining entrance to the Delacroix world, she will unwittingly step into a web of dangerous political intrigue far beyond her experience.
Unable to deny her attraction to the reclusive business tycoon, Annabelle will be forced to choose between her heart and loyalty to her country. Can Gray and Annabelle find a way through the storm of scandal without destroying the family Gray is fighting to save?
This book has everything that you could ask for. A gorgeous man on the cover who proves to be a fascinating character, a sweet, young girl with a strong, independent will, and a storyline that is filled with history, mystery, misunderstandings, and oh, yes, romance! Gray Delacroix has devoted his life to his family business and it has become a success because of his dedication to it. He is also devoted to his younger sister and brother and you just know that he is the real deal. When he meets Annabelle Larkin, he finally finds interest in something besides his work. She is a young farm girl who has left Kansas to work at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC and it becomes apparent that her sunny, positive attitude will seriously intrigue this gentleman.
'Why was he so fascinated with Annabelle Larkin? This sort of attraction was out of character for him, and he couldn't pinpoint how she had captured his attention with such ease.' (p. 53)
The relationship that develops is sweet and very romantic and then, serious issues occur and their romantic interlude comes to an end. What follows is an intense story filled with anger, hurt, disappointment, and the suggestion of treason. It is often doubtful that this story will end 'happily ever after'. Abigail tells Gray that "If I acted wrongly, then I can only pray that God will forgive me. I know I've hurt you, and I am so desperately sorry." (p. 167)
There are several other characters who definitely contribute to this story. Annabelle's parents and her sister show the traits that made our country strong and Gray's brother Luke and his sister Caroline are very multi-faceted characters. It is hinted that Caroline will soon have her own story!
The Spice King is historical fiction and author Elizabeth Camden has once again proven her ability to present historical facts in a manner that leaves us wanting to learn more. In her historical notes at the end of this book, readers learn about the passage of the Pure Food and Drink Act in 1906, the creation of the Good Housekeeping testing facility in 1900, and the beginning of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval in 1909. Even today, 110 years later, we still depend on that Seal of Approval. And who knew that the vanilla that I love to use in my baking is the second most labor-extensive spice in the world? Thank goodness that imitation vanilla is now so similar to pure vanilla!
This is the first book in the Hope & Glory series and I recommend The Spice King to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and Christian romance. You will want to read this book!
I received a complimentary copy from the author and Bethany House and a positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elizabeth Camden is a college librarian by day and an author on the weekends.She is married and she states that "I should never take my husband for granted. I give daily thanks for the blessing of being able to share a life with my favorite person on the planet,"
And who is she really? "I love old Hitchcock films, the hour before sunset, a long, sweaty run through the Florida countryside, and a glass of good wine. After spending my entire adult life on a college campus (either as a student or a librarian) I have finally been able to pursue my ultimate goal of writing professionally."
Learn more about Elizabeth Camden by clicking below.