The Book Of True Desires

Written by Betina Krahn
Review by Ellen Keith

Krahn’s second in her Book series (following The Book of the Seven Delights) puts a feminist spin on the adventure tales in the vein of Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold. This tale, like Seven Delights, features a confident and knowledgeable female protagonist, reluctantly paired on a treasure hunt with a skeptical male. Naturally, their bickering scarcely conceals an attraction that, when the chips are down, turns to lust and love. It’s 1898, and adventurer Cordelia O’Keefe seeks funding from her estranged grandfather for an expedition. He only agrees to front her the money if she first finds the Gift of the Jaguar for him in Mexico and if his butler (but is he really a butler?), Hartford Goodnight, accompanies her to make sure Grandpa’s money is well spent.

Through Goodnight’s journal, chronicling their travels and expenses, Krahn amusingly highlights the perils of travel at the turn of the 20th century. From a hazardous trip to Havana to primitive conditions in the jungles of Mexico, Cordelia and Hartford encounter it all: devious professors, helpful peasants, and villains who only lack a mustache to twirl to complete their stereotypical portrait. Although all of that implies a formula, and indeed it is one, this is still a fast, fun read.