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The Book of True Desires Mass Market Paperback – 29 Aug 2006
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Set in 1898, it tells the story of Cordelia O'Keefe, a beautiful American explorer and adventurer extraordinaire, who strikes a deal with her feisty old tycoon grandfather to fund an expedition to find King Solomon's Mines if she will first go into Mexico and discover the secret, and perhaps the treasure, of the Mayan stone carving called the Gift of the Jaguar. She agrees before he tells her he must have as his representative on the expedition his butler, the Englishman Hartford Goodnight (love that name). Goodnight, who she continually calls Good___ (fill in the blank; it varies), is anything but your typical butler. He's clever, impudent and smart--and very well educated and knowledgeable about plants. Cordelia and Goodnight find themselves neck deep in adventure, bandits, jungle animals and mysterious Mayan legends, all the while fighting their attraction for each other.
Krahn very cleverly injects humor though Goodnight's curt, sarcastic remarks and his journal writings, which are priceless. I laughed out loud at some of them. So well done. There are wonderful secondary characters and a very mean villain. It's a fun romp and a good love story and you Walter Mitty types will love it.
Cordelia O'Keefe is an adventurer. To fund her next expedition, she's forced to turn to her last resort--Samuel P. Blackburn, the wealthy grandfather who'd disowned her father before Cordelia was even born. Samuel P. is a scheming manipulator, and he agrees, but only if she'll find the "Gift of the Jaguar" for him. And she has to take his fussy, sarcastic butler, Hartford Goodnight along to report back to him. He entrusts the funds to Goodnight so she's not tempted to ditch the butler somewhere along the way.
From then on, it's page-turning adventure, with one thrilling situation after another. The quest takes them from Florida to Cuba and then to Mayan ruins in the jungle. They encounter revolutionaries, gun-runners, and natives, some who help them, and some who want to beat them to the treasure and will stop at nothing to get it. They also encounter venomous snakes, quirky donkeys, and a mysterious jaguar, along with an incredible variety of flora.
Goodnight turns out to be much more than Cordelia expected, and their romance grows along with their understanding and respect for each other.
I really cannot recommend this book highly enough--it's just so much fun! The characters and the situations and the settings are so vivid that it's like watching an adventure movie even for someone as non-visually-oriented as I am. In fact, The Book of True Desires would make a fabulous feature film.
*** Betina Krahn has consistently come up with some original and uproariously funny stories and in this fully robust entry you'll find no exception. Similar in tone to that of `The Raiders of the Lost Ark' the excitement and adventure is non-stop with well-drawn characters, thrilling escapes, battles at sea and a dangerous trek through the jungles including poisonous snakes, a mysterious jaguar, and the vilest of villains hot on their trail.
Cordelia is a fabulous heroine, strong, competent, completely convinced of her own self-worth and is not looking for romance although she suspects that there is more to Hartford Goodnight than meets the eye. In spite of him being a sardonic contrary, priggish, inept British domestic he could also kiss like the very devil and his amazingly trim body seemed to set her on fire! Neither was looking for love, but since when does love ask for permission to happen.
Witty dialogues abound from the cheeky one-liners coming from Hart, judiciously sprinkled throughout the text, as well as some of his very clever telling and amusing journal entries. Add to this a cast of quirky and engaging well-drawn characters, including Rita the pregnant `eat anything in her path' donkey and you are sure to enjoy and relish Krahn's latest fabulously adventuresome romantic tale and discover the true `Gift of the Jaguar'.
Marilyn Rondeau - RIO - Reviewers International Organization
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