***A complimentary copy of this read was furnished by NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review***
On a dig in Cairo, looking to prove or disprove the existence of Sicari, gifted archaeologist Emma Zale finds what could be proof of her parent’s dedication to the same quest. Looking to show her discovery to her boss, friend and mentor in an adjacent cave Emma finds him dead.
The police question Emma’s involvement beyond discovering the body while she’s drawn to a stranger watching her from a shadowy corner of the police station. Emma’s released and returns home but remains on edge as memories of her parent’s deaths resurface. Emma thinks her troubles followed her home evidenced by the exquisitely perfect specimen of the male physique filling her doorway.
Ares DeLuca quickly uncovers Emma’s talent and decides she doesn’t have what he came for but is more than satisfactory as a woman and that his hasty actions may have led the rival bloodthirsty Praetorian warriors to her doorstep. Ares is uncertain if it’s his duty or his lust for Emma driving his actions and clouding his judgment but he’s obligated to protect her from the new dangers she’s unaware of.
Emma’s out of her element and refuses to fear the stranger and resists his offer of assistance. She soon doubts her decision but is determined to do things her way. As she tries to resolve a coded puzzle, Emma realizes she confused. She’s in possession of a clue that could answer Ares question or be a message for her plus she’s strongly attracted to yet suspicious of Ares and his motives.
Face to face with a terrifying burglar in her home, Emma realizes she’s desperately in need of Ares help. While Ares approaches Emma’s home and sees things are amiss. Emma grudgingly accepts him as a guardian against the evil trying to kill her. Taking Emma to safety is certain to cause unrest among the order but Ares gets at least two allies to believe in his position.
Trading information Emma learns about secret sects and societies, mysterious murders, valuable artifacts and Ares but refuses to believe his motives. Once she receives a rude lesson in Sicari honor and judgment, Emma begins to expand her own horizons. Code in hand and a new partnership sends seekers on a race to locate the artifact, maintain the Order of Sicari’s in an openly covert manner.
Minor drawbacks were repetition of a couple of early scenes plus fits of the sillies overtook both Ares and Emma when they realized the changes in their relationship, Emma suffered from bratties also and annoyed this reader a bit. Offsetting those points were interesting secondary characters, drawn out sexual tension, an interesting and detailed mystery and a shadowy, devious villain as a foe.
This new to me author had quite the tale to tell. Full of mystery, betrayals, history, romance, exotic locales, danger, action, adventure and a powerful, scrumptious and studly hero … a satisfying fantasy to feed this reader’s craving for a tasty tale. Despite the quibbles.