Friday, July 12, 2013

Review: A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn

A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn
Publication Date: April 2013
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Source: France Book Tours/Author 

              A Spear of Summer Grass Synopsis

Paris, 1923

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even among Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather's savanna manor house until gossip subsides.

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming—yet fleeting and often cheap.

Amidst the wonders—and dangers—of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for—and what she can no longer live without. [sex and violence present but not graphic]

A Spear of Summer Grass is set in the 1920's where scandal can easily have a woman sent away due to the embarrassment to herself and her family. Delilah falls into this situation through her impulsive, selfish and immoral choices deemed unacceptable for a woman during this time period. Delilah is not a likeable character initially her experiences change her and allow her heart to be opened as she forced to face her fears. She is sent to Africa, which is nothing like the posh surroundings she is used to in Paris or England. She is a glamorous and beautiful woman who brings her finery with her to a country full of danger, culture and politics. She finds new social connections with expats whom she knows some of them and creates her own lifestyle without fear of repercussions.  She experiences the beauty of the land, the people, the tribes and the animals and learns to appreciate the amazing landscape full of wild animals and folklore. She continues to be wild and carefree and morally her choices continue to put her in trouble. She learns through the danger and fear that she can open her heart to Africa and the love she feels she does not deserve. 

This is the first book that I've read by Deanna Raybourn who has a gift for writing about complex characters, surroundings and the setting in Africa was stunning. Highly recommended. 

Author bio:

As a sixth-generation native Texan, I grew up in San Antonio, where I met my college sweetheart. I married him on graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history. During summer vacation when I was twenty-three, I wrote my first novel. After three years as a teacher, I left education to have a baby and pursue writing full-time.
Fourteen years and many, many rejections after my first novel, I signed two three-book deals with MIRA Books.

"Sex, lies and awesome clothing descriptions" is how one reader described my debut novel, Silent in the Grave,published in 2007. The first in the Silent series, the book follows Lady Julia Grey as she investigates the mysterious death of her husband with the help of the enigmatic private enquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane. From the drawing rooms of the aristocracy to a Gypsy camp on Hampstead Heath, Silent in the Grave was my love letter to Victorian London.
The series continues with the second book, Silent in the Sanctuary (2008), a classic English country house murder mystery with a few twists and turns for Brisbane and Lady Julia along the way, while the third book, Silent on the Moor (2009), is set in a grim manor house on the Yorkshire moors. My favorite part of writing Moor was getting to spend time in Yorkshire, one of the most wildly beautiful places I have ever been.

March 2010 saw a departure from the series with the release of The Dead Travel Fast, a mid-Victorian Gothic thriller that chronicles the adventures of novelist Theodora Lestrange as she leaves the safety and security of her Edinburgh home for the dark woods and haunted castles of Transylvania. I returned to Lady Julia and her companions with Dark Road to Darjeeling (October 2010), this time delving into my most exotic setting yet in the foothills of the Himalayas. The fifth series book, New York Times bes
tseller The Dark Enquiry (July 2011) saw Lady Julia back in her beloved London again, while a digital holiday novella, Silent Night (November 2012) highlighted the March family festivities at Bellmont Abbey.

But 2013 introduces a new setting to my work—1920s British East Africa. In A Spear of Summer Grass (May 2013), disgraced flapper Delilah Drummond is sent to Africa to weather the storm of her latest scandal. There she meets Ryder White, a local legend for more reasons than one—and the perfect man to teach her about the continent he loves. Ryder was introduced to readers in the digital prequel novella Far in the Wilds (March 2013).

 I am thrilled that 2014 will see another 1920s release, City of Jasmine (May 2014), and I am hard at work on my next project in my little pink study in Virginia with a doodle draped over my feet as I write.

You can find me blogging a few days a week at Be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter, check out my contests and book trailer videos, and find me on Twitter and Facebook

Check out the tour schedule for A Spear of Summer Grass through France Book Tours and enter the giveaways to win a copy of the book. 

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  1. thanks for your review, glad you enjoyed it

  2. I have one of her books on my shelves waiting to be read. I love this cover!

  3. Thanks for your great review. I've seen this cover before. This sounds like a story I would enjoy.

  4. I enjoyed the novella that preceded this book so I think I'd like it!

  5. I highlighted this but didn't have time to read it. I've got it on my wishlist though so I'm glad you liked it so much.

  6. I have a book by this author but I haven't read it yet! Like that is a shock!


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