Monday, July 7, 2008

Egyptian Heart by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

TITLE: Egyptian Heart
AUTHOR: Kathryn Meyer Griffith
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 75k)
GENRE: Time travel romance
COST: $6.00

Egyptologist Maggie Owen is on the dig of her life, excavating for a new tomb when an amulet given to her sends her back to 1340 BC, and the company of Ramose Nahk-Min. Captured with a group of runaway slaves, she is immediately seen as different with her pale blonde hair and green eyes. Ramose, especially, is intrigued by her, but his favorite concubine Makere will do anything to keep from losing favor with him. Can Maggie return to her own time before it’s too late, or will she lose her heart to a man she can never have?

There’s an odd schizophrenia to this particular romance that almost prevented me from finishing it. For the first fifty or so pages, we learn about Maggie, about her life, why she’s in Egypt, and so on. We also get massive information dumps on Egypt itself, details that bog the story down into a history lesson that feels like a primer for the real story. While there are readers that enjoy this particular style, I’m unfortunately not one of them. I like to live the history, not be lectured it, and I found it very hard to slog through everything as we get ready for Maggie to go back in time.

Things improve when that happens, because finally, there’s some action. The world is very well realized and the characters believable, and the tension that is introduced when Maggie meets Ramose and Makere is palpable. It’s incredibly simple to get swept along while Maggie settles into her new life, and I enjoyed that particular aspect of the ride quite a bit. I even fell for Ramose, which always helps. However, as soon as Ramose returns from battle and announces he has to go and see the Pharoah, things start to derail again when Maggie goes with him. A lot of time has to pass, and this gets skimmed over. Normally this isn’t a bad thing, but this is the romance at its highest. I don’t want the author to tell me how they’re falling more and more in love. I want to see it. There’s just too much telling and not enough seeing in the entire last third of the story for my tastes, including the epilogue which was vastly disappointing.

My enjoyment of the romance got tempered by Maggie’s obsession with her virginity, too. I understand she’s Catholic. I understand she’s a good girl. But in all fairness, I just have difficulty relating to thoughts like, Anything won too easily was never valued highly, my mother used to say and Take it slow, I told myself. Slow. If you act like a whore, he’ll end up treating you as one. There are sections of the story that feel almost like inspirational romance, which I’ll say here and now, I don’t like to read and so choose not to. Maggie and Ramose literally spend weeks upon weeks together, sleeping in the same tent when they’re traveling, and not once do they consummate their love. I never understand why Ramose – a powerful man used to taking what he wants – doesn’t press the issue more than he does. I hardly want a forced seduction, but it didn’t make sense for this particular character to never even bring it up after Maggie’s initial protests.

There are a few technical issues that disrupted my reading flow as well, like the use of drug for dragged on numerous occasions, and even using millenniums instead of millennia. Since the story is told in 1st person and the narrator is a highly educated woman, there’s just no excuse for the errors.

Perhaps readers without the same biases I do will get more satisfaction from it. As it stands, only the middle third with the budding romance and danger from Makere truly entertained me.


6/10 – A tedious, information dump beginning and unfortunate errors like drug for dragged hold back a sweet romance in the middle third.


7/10 – Remarkably appealing


5/10 – I have to admit to not understanding the virginity issue, but that’s a personal bias

Entertainment value

6/10 – The middle third is nicely paced and romantic, but the story suffers from a boring beginning and a dragged out end.

World building

8/10 – It’s clear the author knows her ancient Egypt, but that dissemination of detail only flows in the middle third.



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