Nefertiti's Heart - A.W. Exley
TW: Rape and living with the trauma afterwards.
THIS is how you write a survivor coming to terms with her abuse and being coming sexually active, aware, and confident. It’s glorious. And sweet. And sexy.
I fucking LOVED Cara. She’s one BAMF. I hate how she was screwed over by the system and shunned from society. However, I love what she did, how she survived and handles it. And then she ends up helping other women in sticky situations though some have a giant stick up their ass about it.
Nate is an awesome male romance lead. He’s bold but is very cautious with Cara, is aware of her boundaries and doesn’t push her. At first, I was skevved out by his “I want you as a payment” just like Cara but it worked out beautifully.
There is a lot of romance but I think it was well-balanced with the mystery. I liked the way it unfolded and wrapped up. I also liked how the Sherlock and Watson duo were not the end all be-all geniuses that are unbelievably brilliant. And the fact it pointed out how the poor women were discarded and treated as gossip by the ton was brought up with tones of shame. Well, at least by them and our romantic duo.
There isn’t much in the way of Gaslamp factors. It’s mostly flare like literal mechanical horses alongside flesh and bone horses and cars. Instead of drowning in gears and gadgets, it’s a more subdued affair.
I do like how it brings up the money issue when it comes to the cool Gaslamp items. This also gives a reason why it’s so subtle in this book, which makes far more sense to me.
While Nefertiti’s Heart is the main artifact in play, it’s rather magical as well. Or appears to be since it’s not really explained and *magic* is the default if the science isn’t explained. At least for me.
It was an easy, fast-paced read with great characters, action and a mystery worth uncovering. All in all, I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to continue the series.