Whisper of Jasmine (City of Jasmine #0.5)
By: Deanna Raybourn
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
When socialite Delilah Drummond's husband Johnny breaks the news that he's enlisted, she refuses to cry -- rather, she'll do what Delilah does best, and throw a New Year's Eve party to remember. She's determined that she and Johnny will ring in the year 1915 in style, making memories to treasure while they're far apart, separated by the conflict riddling Europe. In typical Delilah style this will be the party to remember, and as such she can't resist a bit of good-natured match-making between a few select invitees -- among them the dashing explorer Gabriel Stark, and the charming, if down-on-her-luck Evie Merriweather. Gabriel and Evie aren't intended for each other, but on that London night, with the magical promise of the new year in the air, when their eyes lock across the room sparks fly and they begin to write their own love story. But with the specter of war hovering over the festivities, and Gabriel's every move watched by those who would seek to utilize his special skill set and bravado in service to king and country, can a romance sparked by the magic of New Year's hope to survive the realities of a world at war?
Whisper of Jasmine is Deanna Raybourn's latest novella, a stunning prequel to her forthcoming release City of Jasmine (due to release February 25!). Similar in tone to last year's novella, Far in the Wilds, this story showcases Raybourn's penchant for penning an unforgettable, pitch-perfect Edwardian-era adventure. I didn't realize going into this story that Whisper of Jasmine features Delilah Drummond, heroine of A Spear of Summer Grass, the full-length follow-up to Far in the Wilds. Somehow 2013 got away from me without reading that novel, a fact I plan to rectify THIS MONTH. Knowing that novel deals with Delilah coming to terms with the aftermath of the Great War in her own life, this glimpse into her pre-war life is bittersweet and heart-rending -- but beautifully, vividly rendered on the page.
Simply put, I ADORED this introduction to Evie and Gabriel. The orphaned Evie, long shuttered between relations and struggling to make ends meet, is a wonderfully spunky, vibrant heroine. And I ADORED her Aunt Dove's role as an eccentric fairy godmother/adventuress, whose refurbished Worth gown gives Evie an entrance to Delilah's party that rivals any Cinderella herself. For a story set against the grim backdrop of the Great War, this story is a beautiful, gorgeous, heart-stopping (and humorous) fairy tale. I loved every second. And the clues dropped throughout the narrative regarding Gabriel's war work were the icing on the cake -- a swoon-worthy, whirlwind romance and a dash of old-fashioned spy-craft? A dream come true!
Whisper of Jasmine positively sparkles, and I cannot WAIT to discover the rest of Evie and Gabriel's story -- and the promised return of Aunt Dove's witticisms! -- in City of Jasmine. This novella is an absolute delight from start to finish -- very, very well-done Ms. Raybourn!
About the book:
New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn transports readers to a magical New Year's Eve party in 1914, where two guests will discover the passion of a lifetime in this prequel novella…
Notorious socialite Delilah Drummond won't be deterred by the war. Instead, she decides to throw the event of the year, and she's handing out invitations with an eye for wanton fun and wild abandon.
There is the dashing explorer and archaeologist Gabriel Stark, a man at a crossroads in his life. Brilliant and restless, he's just committed to a secret enterprise that forces him to play a public role very different from the man he truly is.
And then there is the charming if flighty Evangeline Merriweather. Evie has dreamed her whole life of adventure. Little does she know, she's about to get more than she bargained for. Especially after her vivacious Aunt Dove acts as fairy godmother, if a saucy one, providing a scandalous gown and a whisper of jasmine on her skin….
Evie will shake cool Gabriel to his core, but just how far are they willing to take love at first sight?
One seductive night will change Evie forever. Watch for her next adventure, in the City of Jasmine.