Book Review: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit (Emmeline Truelove #1) by Juliana Gray
One shouldn’t judge a book by its cover…
I picked this up thinking it would be a historical mystery with a touch of romance. So I was confused when the opening scene was set in present day and read almost like something out of an action/thriller novel. Then, just as I was grasping that the book was including time travel of some sort, the ghost of Queen Victoria started talking to our heroine, adding a paranormal element, and I began to wonder if there was any genre A Most Extraordinary Pursuit wasn’t going to fall under.
In 1906 Emmeline Truelove works as the Duke of Olympia’s secretary. When he suddenly passes away, his widow sends Miss Truelove off to Crete to try and find his successor, the new duke, Max Hayward, who has recently gone missing. The Duchess sends along Lord Silverton, a dashing cad who turns out to be handy in a tight spot, to escort Emmeline.
This is where we get the mystery and adventure. Miss Truelove and Silverton follow Max’s trail, dodging bullets and blades along the way. It’s all quite enjoyable and fun.
The romance doesn’t pan out exactly how I imagined it would. I assume we are supposed to all cheer on Silverton and Miss Truelove’s pairing but there is something about him that makes me hesitate. In fact, before we even are introduced to Max, I had hopes he would turn out to be Emmeline’s knight in shining armour and she could kick Silverton to the kerb.
As if the inclusion of the scifi element wasn’t complicated enough, Gray adds in an awful lot of flashbacks/backstory for Emmeline. The story is all told in her first person point of view where every 1906 scene seems to contain Emmeline sharing a scene from her childhood or past. It did get a little distracting at times.
Each chapter also starts with a second adventure/romantic story in the form of a Greek myth which is apparently an excerpt from another ‘book’. This Book of Time (as it is called) is supposedly written in the main book’s future by the duke. Though confusing, I hated not this idea but the actual storyline and characters of that book/myth. I would have much preferred it wasn’t included at all and only read it with the hope of solving the time travel riddle. I did not solve the time travel riddle.
Gray is very good at adding cliffhangers. Each chapter ends on one nicely. However, I did expect the end of the book to have some sort of conclusion and was, therefore, disappointed when all we got was a couple of twists straight out of left field. The ambiguous ending left me with an unsatisfied feeling.
So, will I read part two? Yes, I think I will. Because despite all the confusing aspects of this novel, its identity crisis and my general disinterest with the male lead, I still developed some sort of fondness for it. I do want to know what becomes of Emmeline.
3 and ½ out of 5