N.C. Allen’s long-awaited second volume in her Isabelle Webb series is now out, and it won’t disappoint fans. The Pharaoh’s Daughter picks up aboard a ship sailing from Calcutta to Egypt where Allen’s previous volume, Legend of the Jewel left off.
Isabelle’s young ward Sally Rhodes and her friend, Alice, have escaped an insidious plot in India by secretly boarding a ship bound for Egypt. Isabelle and her would-be suitor, James, who is accompanied by his brother, Phillip, are on another ship, following close behind.
When the group is reunited they are surprised to find Genevieve Montgomery (whom Isabelle refers to as The Benefactress) and her party waiting for them in Suez, with plans for an excavation for Egyptian artifacts. It’s the time when digging up artifacts in Egypt was a popular craze. The offer is an opportunity not to be missed and holds a promise of time to unwind from their previous harrowing adventure. It will also afford them the opportunity to hide from an evil man they suspect may attempt to follow them in an effort to find and steal a large gem that is reputed to have unusual powers.
Strange happenings put Isabelle and James on their guard as they begin a leisurely trip up the Nile to Luxor, where they set up camp for their dig. They are fascinated by a legend surrounding a disgraced daughter of an ancient pharaoh and the rumor that she is buried somewhere in the area they have been assigned for their dig.
Strange whisperings, identical birthmarks that burn and cause pain whenever they are near the mysterious jewel, murdered guards, and being buried in an ancient tomb are just a few of the unusual happenings that plague the expedition. An eerie connection to the jewel already in their possession and the mysterious princess begins to take shape.
Isabelle has more trust issues than those dealing with the accumulation of strangers that make up their party. Losing her parents at an early age and caring for herself and her younger sister as homeless waifs, having her education and living expenses paid by the woman she calls Benefactress but doesn’t entirely trust, followed by a career as a Pinkerton agent, and serving as an undercover spy during the Civil War, have left her distrustful of relationships and doubtful she can every be loved. Her fears leave her wary of trusting her growing feelings for James.
Allen’s heroine, Isabelle Webb, is a spunky, intelligent, independent woman, who is determined to make her own way in the world. She doesn’t expect to marry and is distrustful of anyone who may attempt to exert authority over her.
The background and setting of this book are meticulously researched, all the way from clothing details and social/political mores to the geographical features of Egypt. Allen does an excellent job of explaining and showing these factors by incorporating them into the various scenes rather than bogging down the story with scholarly explanatory paragraphs.
The plot follows a nicely woven fiction arc, with the use of twists and secondary resolutions. The ending is abrupt, though it ties up the Egypt phase of the story. It also leads into the next book, which will be set in Greece. This volume in this popular historical romance series would be a much-appreciated Valentine gift for a special lady.
Allen is the author of the popular Civil War series, Faith of our Fathers, and Isabelle Webb’s adventures are a spinoff from a character in that series. She and her husband with their three children live in Ogden, Utah. She has taught school and is actively involved in writing organizations with a particular interest in helping teens to become writers.
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The Pharaoh’s Daughter by N. C. Allen, published by Covenant Communications, paperback, 262 pages, $15.99