Review - The Revelations of Carey Ravine, Debra Daley

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The Revelations of Carey Ravine
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9781782069966
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Book Synopsis

London in the 1770s is bursting with opportunity. It's a city fuelled by new ideas and new money, where everything is for sale - including entree into the ruling class.

Making their way in this buccaneering society are Carey Ravine, a spirited young woman of enigmatic background, and her husband, the charming, endlessly enterprising Oliver Nash. Carey and Nash share a historic connection to India and a desperate ambition to better themselves. But as Nash's plans draw them into a restless association of gamblers and secret societies, Carey begins to question what's really hidden behind the seedy glamour of their lives. Her unease grows with the appearance of a mysterious man whose appearance unearths a troubling secret from the past. Carey finds herself forced to investigate the truth behind the stranger's claims - and to confront her own illusions about herself.

Book Review

With a strong sense of place, THE REVELATIONS OF CAREY RAVINE is an interesting combination of romance, history and crime fiction. There's a lot being attempted in one novel here, and that combination of genres, and hence stylings are both the strongest and weakest points, depending upon your preferences. It's not a novel designed for readers of historical fiction alone, nor perhaps for those that read romance, or crime fiction only for that matter. 

There was a good sense of time and place in the narrative, with plenty of information about society pressures, and the unusual nature of the marriage of Ravine and Nash. Combining that in the early stages with setup to the plot and background for many of the characters does sometimes water-down the history focus, and definitely telegraphs a more romantic / suspense approach.

The partnership of Ravine and Nash is part romance, part business and part intrigue. Both of these character are nuanced and complex, with neither completely innocent, nor overtly bad or overcome by ruthless disregard. 

Then there is the crime component, with elements that hark back to their backgrounds, forcing Ravine in particular to consider her own past actions, and the way that they are both trying to better themselves. There are strong connections to India here, with motivations from their shared past there pulling them back there again. 

Told in the first person, Carey Ravine makes for an interesting heroine as she finds herself increasingly conflicted and challenged. Her voice is light-hearted and lively, contrasting strongly against the darker themes that the novel is tackling. Starting out as something that seems likely to be on the fluffy, lighter side, THE REVELATIONS OF CAREY RAVINE quickly changes to darker, faster paced and action packed. It makes for an unusual reading experience as the history feels right, the characters are believable and the internal conflict somehow clearer as the reader experiences the revelations alongside the narrator. It is, however, not a straightforward history, romance or crime fiction novel, but a mash-up, and one this reader found extremely engaging.


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