The Panther and The Pyramid by Bonnie Vanak
Graham Tristan had been tormented too long. For years he had lived in fear. He was physically strong; during his childhood exile, he had ridden with the Khamsin - Eygptian Warriors of the Wind. He had learned their code, been called The Panther. Now he was returned to his rightful place as the Duke of Caldwell. But still he feared. And there was a new face that haunted his dreams. It was the face of a woman.
Red hair, the color of blood. Green eyes, the color of emeralds. And that face, that body - the memory threatened to consume him. True, he was a dangerous man, accepted back to the ton despite his upbringing. But there were those who dared oppose him, and in certain ways he remained untried. In his dreams, this woman threatened all he sought to protect, all he thought to hide. She was more perilous even than the ancient treasure that would draw him back to Egypt, back to the shifting sands where he had been raised. This woman would uncover his heart.
Normally I don't get all excited about secondary characters in books. Most of the time I don't really care if they get their own book or not. But every so often a secondary character does seem to come alive for me and I'm as eager as the next reader to see if a book is planned for that character. Such was the case with a secondary character in Bonnie Vanak's previous book, The Cobra and the Concubine. I really enjoyed that book and the long lost brother of the hero of that one just seemed to call out for his own story. Much to my delight some time later I found out that she did indeed have a book planned for him and I waited with great anticipation for it to come out. I finally got a copy of The Panther and the Pyramid a couple of weeks ago - and then hit a slump. Before the slump, I reread TCATC just to remind myself of this intriguing character. Well, I don't know if it was listening to the right music or what, but I picked this one up to read yesterday and WOW!! WOW!! WOW!! This book is fabulous! I had a hard time putting it down. I had my sons and sister over for turkey dinner today and part of me was waiting for them to leave so I could finish it.
The back cover blurb does a good job in outlining the book so I'll just say what made this book such a thrill to read.
1) Graham!!! What a wonderful dark and tortured hero he was. Strong on the outside, yet incredibly insecure on the inside about the very thing that made him a man. He treated the heroine badly at times but the author made you fully understand why. And it wasn't that he wanted to. In order to survive the horrors he suffered as a child, he had to keep so much of himself closed off from her. Yet he had a deep love for his family and for Jillian. I loved the scenes between he and Kenneth, his brother. They had been enemies in the previous book and it was wonderful to see how they broke through that and really came to care and protect each other. And once Graham realized how vital Jilly was to him, he was wrecked for her. I always love that in a book.
2) Jillian! What a fabulous heroine she was. Very intelligent but kept under total control by her father all her life, it wasn't until she met Graham that she really began to come into her own with his encouragement. It was a treat seeing her grow stronger and more confident and more than an equal to Graham.
3) Graham & Jilly! Together this couple were great. Although it took a while for them to realize it, they both were what the other needed in order to heal.
4) The setting!! The first part took place in England and was very good, but then the story switched to Egypt and the place just came alive for me. It was almost as if I were right there. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to read a historical book that is different, that takes chances. And this one does. At times it's not always and easy read; it has some dark parts in it. But since I much prefer the darker in books, I loved it.
5) The cover! I think this is a fabulous cover. Just the dark and mysterious eyes showing *shiver*.
6) The title! Once I read the book, I completly understood the title.
It reminded me slightly of another one of my old favourites - Silk and Shadows by Mary Jo Putney. That one also had a mysterious hero with a tortured past.
I can tell when I've read a book that touches me because as soon as I'm finished, I have to read it all over again. That's what I'm doing with this one.
Last year, The Cobra and the Concubine was in my honourable mention books of 2005. This year The Panther and the Pyramid will be in the top 3.
Grade: 5 out of 5