Saturday, March 16, 2013

Book Review: To Breathe the Breath of Isis

To Breathe the Breath of Isis
Author: Elizabeth Marx
Genre: Historical Romance/Time Travel
Tour Host: Lady Amber's Tours


One woman. One man. An eternity of love hammered into twenty-one pieces of silver.

Marguerite is a victim of a vicious attack. The resulting brain damage causes amnesia and
when she inexplicably appears in a tomb in Thebes, she insists she was coming to meet
Robert Bruton. Disorientated, destitute, and alone, she senses that her necklace has led
her to this familiar swashbuckler who takes her breath away; however, he claims he does
not know her.

Lord Robert Bruton, eminent Egyptologist, and possible spy for the crown, has never
discovered anything as captivating as the young woman he recovers unconscious on
his dig. He has staked his career on finding the final resting place of Queen Tiye and
wonders why Marguerite possesses a piece of jewelry belonging to the Eighteenth
Dynasty queen. She could be a tomb robber, an American spy, or a madwoman spouting
fantastical stories.

As the necklace’s curse is revealed, the fire of Marguerite’s and Bruton’s ancient bond
burns between them. But when Marguerite disappears, Bruton fears that the wings of Isis
have carried away the true treasure he has been seeking his entire life.
For to breathe the breath of Isis is to be reborn.

What happens when an intelligent, opinionated woman from Chicago ends up with amnesia in the Egyptian desert 100 year ago? Mystery, desire, pain, love, and villiany, all mixed up with some sarcastic wit.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I finished it in a day (mostly because I had to have this review written and had just come back from vacation), and have been thinking about it frequently since.  It is very well written, with the author obviously putting in an insane amount of research into the Egyptian history, clothing, foods, culture etc. The story is captivating, educational in some ways, and beautifully written, albeit there is some incredibly long and flowery phrasing that could detract from the main story.

While I did study history, Egyptian history is not my forte. This book has a loooot of Egyptian history. I found myself reading it on my tablet while, at one point, simultaneously having a Google page open to look up unfamiliar words.  A dictionary of terms in the back of the book would have been really helpful, since even if you explain it once, I have probably forgotten it ten pages later, and I can't look back on my tablet for reference.

I think that having the book split into three parts made it seem longer than it was, as I expected it to end after the second section and had another 25% of the book to read.  I like that there was resolution in the end of the story, but I'm still not entirely sure that I 'got' it, like what the point of the story I just read was. Why did this necklace pick her? Why then? Why there?  For a grand love didn't read like a romance at all. It seemed, oddly, like the romance was secondary to the history and that aspect of the story.   Also, there were some scenes that had me going 'what the hell?' having a miscarriage that was never mentioned again, and way too many beating for my comfort level. I have to admit, I kept having De Vinci Code flashbacks while I reading all the stuff about secret societies and cabals.

Love history, romance, or time travel? Grab this book and tell me what you think! Keep reading for an excerpt!

Want to learn more about the author? Check out her website here and here is her Facebook author page.

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Marguerite had spent two weeks in the desert with her task master. He was quiet except
for his constant examination of her knowledge of Egyptian history. Lord Bruton had a
rugged swagger and raw strength that probably frightened most of the damsels of the day,
but because he seemed familiar to Marguerite she ignored his bravado.

They dined alone under the stars most evenings, a fire mingling between their piecemeal
conversation. Bruton spent most of his nights playing records on his phonograph and
studying her under hooded eyes that revealed nothing of his thoughts. He tried to
convince her to sleep in one of the tombs to avoid the cool nights, but the thought of the
confinement was more than she could bear, so she slept on a pallet across the tent from

She woke early this morning to find him gone. It wasn’t the first time she’d awoken to his
empty pallet, but he usually snuck away in the darkest part of night. Marguerite tore her
covers off, dressed and went to work, telling herself that who he was with was none of
her concern.

Marguerite’s work table was positioned so that the shaft of daylight fell over the surface,
and she could read the papyrus document. The stagnant air dancing with dust motes
moved, and a shadow fluttered down the stairs of the tomb. Down one step at a time,
over the surface of her sheltered respite, the silhouette bringing the dry scorch of the
desert. Marguerite stopped dabbing the hanky across her upper lip to glance up from her
transcription to stare at the figure whose features were hidden under the brim of his hat.
Bruton put his hands on his hips. “What on earth are you doing now?”

“I’m working.” She brought a hanky to her brow, but it was dry, like the fine filament
of a shroud. She considered the rest of the tabletop, wondering about the location of her
water canister.

“Is there a particular reason for your state of undress?”

Marguerite imagined the exasperated look on his face, happy that she couldn’t see it
because after fifteen days, it was losing its desired effect. “I’m only partially unclothed.
I came down expecting to remain alone. You went roaming the desert without me, again,


“Why?” She refused to look away from the papyrus, drawing a magnifying glass over the
textured surface, forgetting the heat and the water canister. “Because you enjoy keeping
me up to my elbows in work while you traipse off into the luxuries of Luxor.”

“Why are you partially unclothed?” He took the last of the stairs moving behind her,
gazing over her shoulder. “What is this?” he asked, snatching her corset, which was
dangling off the snout of a dog-headed ceramic figurine.

She eyed him from the corner of her eye, pretending to squint from the reinfusion of
light. “That would be the most preposterous women’s undergarment. I plan on sacrificing
it over the spit at dinner.” She made another note in the margin.

“I believe that this is a necessary woman’s undergarment for a woman with your kind of

Marguerite looked up with narrowed her eyes. “I am too busy to care about your insults
right now.”

“Knickers, you confuse insult with observation.”

“Yes a very keen one,” she started fanning herself with her sketch-pad, since the
temperature seemed to suddenly rise.

“Do you really have time for a break when there is so much copying to be done?”

“Do the papers strewn everywhere indicate inactivity?” She huffed. “Anyway, I’ve
copied everything that you asked for, Herr Kommandant.” She extended her makeshift
fan and was sorry for its loss.

Bruton opened the pad, amazed at the accuracy in all the tomb drawings, which were
beautifully rendered. She had gone so far as to color in a section of each wall so that he
had a feeling of the overall color scheme.

It was more than he expected, and he continued paging through the drawings until he
came to a sketch of Zita, it was detailed, capturing her sweet disposition in the thoughtful
strokes around her eyes. Dr. Beshwani was on the next page, and she had drawn his
austere manner in a handsome fashion. Agnes followed, without her habit, her hair down
around her elbows, and the overall effect was quite seductive.

He turned the next page and stared at his own reflection. She had gotten him precisely
right, down to the fine lines just starting to form around his eyes. The only thing missing
was his goatee. “You must not care much for my facial hair,” he said rubbing his jaw

Marguerite turned away from her work to wrangle the portfolio away from him. All her
jostling drew his attention to her shirtwaist which was partially unbuttoned, exposing the
lace of her chemise. She cleared her throat, trying to get him to look at her face again, but
when he didn’t, she said, “I don’t think the absence of the corset bothers you as much as
you let on.”

He gave her a wry twist of his lips. “I never said I minded it at all, Knickers.” He winked
as he released the book, taking her in leisurely.

She turned back to her work. “You know if I didn’t know better, I’d think you’ve been
watching me.”

He couldn’t contain himself; a broad smile erupted, exposing his teeth. “You are the most
intriguing thing I have to ponder.”

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and review TO BREATHE THE BREATH OF ISIS. Hint the necklace chose Marguerite in the modern age because she handled its pieces, and it took her back in time to the previous time she laid hands on the pieces. The necklace has always belonged to her so that should help you figure out who Marguerite is.
    Now you have to think about it some more...


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