Title: The Curiosity Keeper
Author: Sarah E. Ladd
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, Inc. [Trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc.]
Copyright: July 2015
Format: E-Book, Pages, $9.33 [Amazon Paperback], $9.99 [Kindle], $20.78 [Audible], $9.51 [Barnes & Noble Paperback], $9.99 [Nook], $9.99 [Google Play], $9.99 [iBooks]
“It is not just a ruby, as you say. It is large as a quail’s egg, still untouched and unpolished. And it is rumored to either bless or curse whoever possesses it.”
Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille must allow a mysterious stranger to come to her aid.
Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content to work as the village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may be the answer to his many questions.
Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, these two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, they will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.
Camille Iverness lives with her father in a curiosity shop [Iverness Curiosity Shop] on Blinkett Street in London. The daily minutia of Camille’s life revolves around the operation of this shop while her father happens to vanish for days at a time, meeting with buyers. Camille is used to being firm and strong, a lot of the time dealing with those who are clearly unhappy with her father, a man who is known for his terrible reputation. James Iverness seems altogether to be a shadowy figure looming in the background while the dark-haired Camille is front and center.
Elsewhere in England, there is a young man by the name of Jonathan Gilchrist and his family harbors a great secret. His own father, Ian Gilchrist has lost his most treasured possession, a great ruby known as the Bevoy. It is a controversial stone that is known for either cursing or blessing its possessor. Moreover, the entire Gilchrist fortune, which was so carelessly squandered by Ian Gilchrist in decades past, is now dependent on the great ruby. Jonathan, who is heir to the Gilchrist fortune and Kettering Hall, is charged by his father with the mission of tracking down the Bevoy himself. To add insult to injury, Jonathan’s sister, Penelope Gilchrist hopes to wed her betrothed, Alfred Dowden. If Alfred discovers Penelope’s family’s penurious state, it is very likely that he will break things off with her and it will lessen her desirability as a potential wife. In short, everything is highly dependent on uncovering the Bevoy.
In his search for the Bevoy, Jonathan enlists the help of Henry Darbin, an investigator who was a childhood friend of his deceased older brother, Thomas Gilchrist. Darbin seems to be diligent in his work and the two men seem to trace the trail to the shop where the Bevoy was originally procured, the Iverness Curiosity Shop. One night, however, while the two men are watching the shop, they witness the young Camille who is accosted by another man, a Mr. McCready. It is clear from the dialogue that transpires that Mr. McCready intends to buy the Bevoy, and seeing that it isn’t there, he wounds Camille in the arm. Our handsome hero, Jonathan cannot stand by as a helpless woman is hurt, so he swoops in and takes Camille into his care.
What follows is a dark, twisted mystery that leads from the sinister alleyways of London to the open countryside around Gilchrist’s own Kettering Hall. Camille is taken in by the Gilchrist family, who suspect that she may be harboring a secret about the Bevoy, and eventually applies for a post at the Fellsworth School. The superintendent of the school, Edward Langsby soon hires Camille as a junior teacher and, while at the school, she happens to run into the fair-haired but handsome Mr. Gilchrist several times.
From start to finish, The Curiosity Keeper was an absolute dream. I confess that I couldn’t quite put it down. The characters were rich with their flaws (I like a good character flaw), their dreams, and their goals. It was a mystery that quickly drew me in and was so fascinating that I felt like I was there in the story with Miss Iverness as she worked in the curiosity shop or along on the ride with Mr. Gilchrist in his desperate search for the Bevoy. For that reason, I give this book five stars. The author did a fantastic job by constantly keeping me guessing and providing a wealth of dialogue from the various characters. I want to point out that I did not see the end coming at all and that there were a few good twists to keep things exciting. All-in-all, a jewel of a read.