Nefertiti’s Heart (The Artifact Hunters, Book 1) Review
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In the beginning of Nefertiti’s Heart, we meet Cara Devon, who endears herself to me immediately by wrecking her deceased father’s library with a crowbar and shooting and wounding two men.

When Cara’s father died, she returned to her childhood home to find all of the artifacts that he’d collected over her lifetime—historical artifacts like the bracelet of Boudicea. If Cara can just find where her father hid them all, she can sell them and be independently wealthy for the rest of her life. The chief item, of course, is Nefertiti’s Heart, an Egyptian artifact.

But both she and the artifacts raise the interest of Nathan Trent, the Viscount Lyons. Cara doesn’t want him to have the items, though the other matter is more negotiable.

Complicating things is a serial killer who attacks the marriageable daughters of the wealthy. As Cara is unpopular in that milieu, and people never blame themselves, it’s clearly all her fault. The Enforcer—in this world the word for Detective—is convinced that she’s involved. So he talks to her often and, in so doing, reinforces polite society’s opinion of her.

The book is mainly wrapped around Cara Devon. She matches a type in steampunk literature: a woman of gentle upbringing (in the sense of social class) who is rejected by that society. She learns to stand and fight on her own two feet—Cara herself learned boxing and commonly carries two handguns and a knife. She may not be familiar with how all of the new technologies work, but she’s swept up into the times.

I like this type because too many female characters just exist for what some other character needs. But Cara plays out well, navigating the impolite underbelly of polite society. She even has a job of sorts: getting justice for benighted members of society—the females who can’t admit to what they’ve done but need rectification of their own mistakes.

As for Nathaniel Trent, he’s not only a lord, but he’s a lord of the underworld—or maybe he’s a privateer operating under Queen Victoria’s instructions. There’s just enough doubt to make him acceptable, especially given what’s happened to Cara and her realization that it wouldn’t have happened if he’d been around. Considering what they’ve both been through, the relationship spends a lot of time breaking down walls around themselves rather than between them. And there is chemistry between them, too. It’s just overt rather than covert.

Pursuing Cara—if that’s what it takes to get to the serial killer—is Inspector Hamish Fraser of Her Majesty’s Enforcers. He’s a little bit shallow in this book, but there are elements that indicate a much more variegated back story—one more compelling than we’ve been let in on here.

Killer, cop, villain, and heroine. This book is the first in a series, and I’d say it’s earned a look at the second volume. This one was pretty good.

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