Review: The Talisman Ring of Amenhotep by Zev de Valera

Can one innocent act change your life forever?

When mild-mannered veterinarian Julian Wingate picks up an unusual bauble for a song in Cairo's Khan-al-Kalili, he has no idea that the acquisition of this ancient ring will alter the course of his future. Recently widowed from the famous Egyptologist Theo Barojas, Julian finds himself on the point of tossing aside all reminders of the past; eager to start his new life with an old love .... but the curious ring - boxed away for almost a year - beckons ... Once Julian slips the artifact upon his finger, nothing in his well-ordered life will ever be the same.

Well, this was a lot of fun and the beginning of this series had me hooked in the 60-ish pages that made up this first installment. It’s got adventure, colorful descriptions and memorable characters. The author was able to really pack a lot into a small package without any part of the story feeling overwhelmed or muddled.

Julian Wingate is in Egypt with his partner, noted Egyptologist, Theo Barojas. Julian is shopping through the market at Cairo's Khan-al-Kalili market and he always brings back trinkets from their travels for their friends. He’s just finishing up when he is drawn to one stall that he doesn’t recognize and that piques his curiosity. He has a decidedly strange encounter with the shop keeper that insists he take a ring as a gift. Julian is a little disconcerted with the encounter and heads back to the hotel to meet Theo. Julian is a little embarrassed and is just waiting for Theo to give him some good natured ribbing for coming away from the market with the ring, instead Theo is stunned by the find as it backs up the theory that Theo has been proposing relating to the Anunnaki and Amenhotep. Theo calls the ring a Talisman, while for Julian it becomes the symbol of the end of Theo’s life as Theo is taken from him tragically just a few days later.

The mystery of the ring remains unsolved and it’s packed away. Fast forward a year later to the point when Julian is pulling his life back together and getting ready to move forward again and he finds the ring. He slips the ring on, he really does like how it looks and he asks himself “Why keep it locked away? It can be a symbol of a new beginning as well as an end.” Well, it is a beginning all right, this is when the mystery really gets going. Strange things start happening, strange, but kind of subtle things that keep the story believable.

The story is strong and interesting, but I have to say I really love the characters. Since this is the first installment, there is still some mystery to most of them, but there is plenty of information there to get attached to. I like Julian a lot. He’s a little fussy, but in the most charming of ways. He’s at the beginning of a potential relationship with a man who has been a friend and business partner for years, Dinesh. I have a serious book crush on Dinesh, he’s the epitome of charming. How do you not fall for a man who declares that champagne is “essential for a proper bubble bath”? He’s a great match for Julian and I liked reading about the start of their world as a couple.

Every great adventure story has to have a villain and the Directrix is the perfect, classic, old school villain. She’s beautiful, brilliant, powerful, and she wants Julian’s ring. She knows what the ring means, she knew Theo and she’s not going to stop until she gets what she wants. She’s got a reluctant handsome henchman with a story of his own, Hiroshi Sato and an assistant, Vivan Loving who has an air of mystery about her as well that I really liked.

This story has a little bit of everything. There was a really sweet new romance, an exotic mystery, some seriously sexy sexy-times and they were all wrapped up in a well written package. I highly recommend this one and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the next installment. I’ve actually already nagged the author :D.


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