The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden – Book Review, Preview

Posted September 9, 2019 by Phyllis Helton in Book Reviews /

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Reading labels has become far more than a habit borne of curiosity; it is an essential part of survival for many.

Plagued with numerous food allergies and food sensitivities (yes, they are different, in case you were wondering), it is critical that we know what is in the food we eat. And, as I have personally discovered, it is equally important to know what is in the lotions, shampoos, and other potions I put on my body.

The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden – Book Review, Preview

The Spice King
by Elizabeth Camden


Series: Hope and Glory #1
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date September 3, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Washington D.C., Cuba, Kansas Progressive Era – US – 1890s – 1920s
Main Character Ages: 25-34, 35-60
Written for: Adults
Pages: 352

Synopsis:

Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building his very successful global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Resolved to salvage his family before it spirals out of control, he returns to his ancestral home to save his brother and sister before it's too late.

As a junior botanist for the Smithsonian, Annabelle Larkin has been charged with the impossible task of gaining access to the notoriously private Delacroix plant collection. If she fails, she will be out of a job and the family farm in Kansas will go under. She has no idea that in gaining entrance to the Delacroix world, she will unwittingly step into a web of dangerous political intrigue far beyond her experience.

Unable to deny her attraction to the reclusive business tycoon, Annabelle will be forced to choose between her heart and loyalty to her country. Can Gray and Annabelle find a way through the storm of scandal without destroying the family Gray is fighting to save?

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers, Netgalley for giving me this copy of the book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.

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Spice King, Gray Delacroix, had worked hard to build the spice empire that provided the lifestyle his younger twin siblings enjoyed. His dedication to the quality of the products they sold and disgust at the unscrupulous practices of his competitors led him to crusade for reform in the food industry that would lead to pure products and accurate descriptions of what was in them. As a label-reader, I was especially fascinated at learning more about how the listing of ingredients on products we buy came about.

Yet, The Spice King is so much more than the story of why we list ingredients! As Annabelle was forced to find secrets of the Delacroix family at great personal cost to herself, her discovery ripped the curtain veiling Grey’s eyes from the truth of what was going on in his own family! And he was able to see Luke and Caroline for the adults they had become instead of the younger siblings he helped raise.

I love the way Elizabeth Camden’s stories often place the hero and heroine on opposite sides of issues, yet fighting for the exact same thing. The irony makes for great stories. Annabelle and Gray had such a rocky relationship, as she worked for government departments he greatly opposed.

Enticing descriptions of plants and spices peppered this story along with details of how they were prepared for market. At one point, Gray, upon learning Annabelle didn’t know how to flavor her food other than with salt and pepper, gifted her with a set of spices that were basically foolproof. His choice of which ones to include was interesting.

Political intrigue added a savory treat as Annabelle uncovered information that when revealed, rocked the Delacroix family to its core and destroyed the budding relationship she had with Grey. Having not retained much (or any!) of what I had learned in school about the McKinleys or the Spanish-American war, the tidbits shared gave me a zesty history lesson in a way that kept me interested and didn’t make me feel like I was reading a textbook. And the parts that took place in Cuba! Fascinating!

Be prepared to have your heart broken when Grey discovers Annabelle’s part in the tragedy that took place! Annabelle’s grief and the pain of the Delacroix siblings had me wiping my eyes. And then when she and Grey were forced to be together. . . Ouch!!

I was particularly moved by Grey’s assessment of Annabelle’s mother after she continued to embarrass Annabelle and make herself odious. The way he was able to see the good in her and the way she helped form Annabelle’s character was very admirable. I hope for a similar perspective when encountering difficult people.

The characters were all so intriguing! I am hopeful that Luke and Caroline will get their own stories. In fact, I just might send an angry letter to the author if Luke isn’t the hero of the next book. :-)

Elizabeth Camden is a master of Christian Historical fiction, turning overlooked historical tidbits into stories that will keep you riveted. If you enjoy this genre, don’t pass on The Spice King!

 

 

Elizabeth's The Spice King Pinterest Board

(click here to go directly to the board on Pinterest)
  • Caroline
  • Yes, Good Housekeeping really did advance the movement for pure food!
  • Annabelle's love of Kansas sunflowers
  • Annabelle....ever cheerful and optimistic!
  • Gray and Annabelle during their breakup in the rain
  • My image of Gray and Annabelle
  • Gray's home study
  • The world of the Far Eastern spice trade
  • My vision of Gray's ship, The Pelican
  • The War Department. This photograph was taken around the same time the Spice King is set.
  • The Department of Agriculture with the Experimental Garden in the front.

 

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About Elizabeth Camden

I am fortunate to have two careers I deeply love. I am a college librarian by day, and write novels on the weekends.

I become a librarian because I can think of no other career in which you get such a wide exposure to all aspects of recorded knowledge. I have been an academic librarian for fifteen years, where on any given day I get to research the sonnets of Shakespeare, learn what makes pelican feathers pink, or compile demographic statistics for starting a new company.

How does one become a college librarian? In my case, I got an undergraduate degree in History from Trinity University in San Antonio, then went on to earn a master’s degree in History from the University of Virginia, and finally a Master’s in Library Science from Indiana University.

But fiction has always been a wonderful escape for me, and I’ve wanted to be a novelist since the third grade when I was devastated by the bittersweet ending of Charlotte’s Web. I remember vowing to re-write the book with a better ending someday. Although I failed to appreciate how copyright law would thwart my ambition to write better endings for other people’s books, perhaps my early experience with sad novels is why I became a romance novelist.

I love writing books about fiercely intelligent people who are confronted with profound challenges. As a rather introverted person, I have found that writing fiction is the best way for me to share my faith and a sense of resilience with others. For those aspiring writers who are interested in my road to publication, you can find it here.

I married relatively late in life, which turned out to be an odd kind of blessing. I had gotten very good at leading a solo life, and although I was not particularly content being alone, I had become reconciled to it. Then when I was in my mid-thirties and just a few weeks after buying my first house, I met the man I was meant to spend the rest of my life with. My years as a single woman taught me many things. I learned to be independent and resilient. I learned how to manage my investments, earn and save enough money to have investments, mow my own lawn, fix the rickety appliances in my sixty-year old house, and spend the holidays on my own when travel to family was not possible. Most importantly, it taught me never to take my husband for granted. I give daily thanks for the blessing of being able to share a life with my favorite person on the planet.

As for who I really am? I love old Hitchcock films, the hour before sunset, a long, sweaty run through the Florida countryside, and a glass of good wine. After spending my entire adult life on a college campus (either as a student or a librarian) I have finally been able to pursue my ultimate goal of writing professionally.

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One response to “The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden – Book Review, Preview

  1. Alicia Haney

    This book sounds intriguing and like a very good page turner! I Love the cover! I enjoyed reading the synopsis and the book review, it really made me want to read the book, so this book will be added to my TBR list. Thank you so much for sharing this review. Have a Great week. God Bless you.

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