Apr 17, 2013

Book Review: Nefertiti's Heart by A.W. Exley

Blog Tour: Nefertiti's Heart by A.W. Exley
Hosted by BB Book Tours - Check out the rest of the blog tour stops!

Today I'm part of another blog tour. Yes, I'm full of blog tours this April. :) As part of the blog tour organised by The Bookish Brunette I had a chance to read and review Nefertiti's Heart by A.W. Exley - awesome mix of alternate history, steampunk, mystery and romance. Read on to find out more. ;)

Book Cover: Nefertiti's Heart by A.W. Exley

Nefertiti's Heart by A.W. Exley

#1 in Untitled series

Genres: Steampunk, Romance, Mystery

Format: Ebook, 280 pages
Published On: February 14, 2013 by Curiosity Quills Press
Source: Received as part of blog tour.

Read an Excerpt

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First Sentence: "There was something cathartic about wielding a crowbar."

Summary for Nefertiti's Heart:

Cara Devon has always suffered curiosity and impetuousness, but tangling with a serial killer might cure that. Permanently.

London, 1861. Impoverished noble Cara has a simple mission after the strange death of her father – sell off his damned collection of priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when aristocratic beauties start dying of broken hearts, an eight inch long brass key hammered through their chests. A killer hunts amongst the nobility, searching for a regal beauty and an ancient Egyptian relic rumored to hold the key to immortality.

Her Majesty’s Enforcers are in pursuit of the murderer and they see a connection between the gruesome deaths and Cara. So does she, somewhere in London her father hid Nefertiti’s Heart, a fist sized diamond with strange mechanical workings. Adding further complication to her life, notorious crime lord, Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is relentless in his desire to lay his hands on Cara and the priceless artifact. If only she could figure out his motive.

Self-preservation fuels Cara’s search for the gem. In a society where everyone wears a mask to hide their true intent, she needs to figure out who to trust, before she makes a fatal mistake.

Author Photo: A.W. Exley

A Little Bit More About A.W. Exley:

Books and writing have always been an enormous part of my life. I survived school by hiding out in the library, with several thousand fictional characters for company. At university, I overcame the boredom of studying accountancy by squeezing in Egyptology papers and learning to read hieroglyphics.

Today, I write steampunk novels with a sexy edge and an Egyptian twist. I live in rural New Zealand surrounded by an assortment of weird and wonderful equines, felines, canine and homicidal chickens.


First thing that attracted me to Nefertiti's Heart was the title. You may not know, but I am crazy about Egyptian history and mythology, so as soon as I heard Nefertiti - I had to read it. The second thing that I liked was the cover art. That steampunk heart looked so awesome, I just had to know how A.W. Exley merged steampunk and Egypt into one. Robot-mummy Nefertiti? One can only hope. :)

My realistic expectations that I will like Nefertiti's Heart were, honestly, pretty low. I never heard about Curiosity Quills Press or A.W. Exley before and since I lately have been burned a couple of times by debut authors or small publishing companies, all that I hoped is for Nefertiti's Heart to be readable. So, imagine my surprise when I found myself reading, no devouring Nefertiti's Heart. When I started, it didn't take long for the story and characters to win me over completely and I was enthralled. Nefertiti's Heart is one of those books that you can not put down. I read it whenever I had even a minute of free time and finished it in a day.

So what is Nefertiti's Heart about? The story is centered around Cara Devon, young lady scorned by society. Cara comes back to London first time after scandal that destroyed her reputation because her estranged father was murdered. Lord Devon was eccentric, gambler and collector of ancient relics. There was no love lost between father and daughter, so Cara hopes to quickly sell all his possessions and go back to her life. But nothing is ever simple. There is a serial murderer on the loose and criminal lord Viscount Nathaniel Lyons has got his eye on Cara's relics (and her). The mystery behind murders, ancient relics and passionate romance escalete and Cara is in the middle.

But don't feel sorry for Cara Devon. "...she was no blushing English rose. She had thorns." Yes, Cara is one of those kick-ass heroines that I love. She flaunts conventions and does not care what society that scorned her thinks about her. She's a fighter - literary (knows how to box) and figuratively - she fights her inner demons and fears and pushes herself to the limit. I found myself cheering for Cara almost immediately from the start.

Cara is not the only likable character in Nefertiti's Heart. There are a lot of quirky and cute side characters that appear through the book and A.W. Exley managed to make them feel so alive. There is Jackson Jackson (Viscount Lyons bodyguard), Cara's grandmother, even Countess de Sal - some half-crazy noblewoman Cara helps. I hope we will get glimpses of them in future A.W. Exley's books or I would not complain if they are main characters.

And last but not least, sexy and powerful Viscount Nathaniel Lyons. I have a soft spot for cool and controlled heroes, it's always so much fun when they unravel. It's exaggeration saying that Nathaniel unravels, but Cara manages to make a couple of cracks in his armor. And chemistry between them is off the charts. Slow seduction is my favorite type of romance, and Nathaniel slowly but surely won me over. :)

Nefertiti's Heart is set in alternative version of victorian England. There are glimpses of steampunk-ish machines and inventions through the book and Viscount Lyons even has a carriage with robot horses. How awesome is that? But steampunk is pretty subdued and subtle here. It's mentioned from time to time like part of everyday life but there are no detailed explanations how things work. So if you like a lot of steam-powered goodies, you will be disappointed. Also, no robot-mummy Nefertiti (bummer).

Except for one of the relics in lord Devon's collection being called Nefertiti's Heart and cute legend related to it, there are no more mentions of Egyptian mythology. But in spite of that I found myself thoroughly enjoying this book. In fact, this would be a 5 star read for me, except that the second part of the book got a little bit more focused on romance and sexual content, so I found the other aspects neglected. Still you will definitely encounter me recommending Nefertiti's Heart to my paranormal romance loving friends in the future.

And great news for me (and future Nefertiti's Heart readers) for the end. A.W. Exley tells us on her website that there will be a couple of free novellas about Cara and Nathaniel during the summer. Maybe even one about Jackson Jackson. And of course, the sequel to the series Hatshepsut's Collar is due in autumn 2013. Altough, Nefertiti's Heart did not have clifhanger ending, I can't wait for more of Cara and all other fun characters from this series.

My Rating: 4 out of 5

I recommend this book to fans of: historical murder mystery who don't mind a little bit of steampunk and a lot of hot romance; also to those who love paranormal romance and urban fantasy and don't mind historical setting; kick-ass strong heroines with traumatic past; cold and control heroes with shady business arangements; qurky secondary characters; ...

Other books by A.W. Exley: None, this is her debut.

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