The Spice King

The Spice King

by Elizabeth Camden


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Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building a successful global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Tasked with gaining access to the private Delacroix plant collection, Smithsonian botanist Annabelle Larkin unwittingly steps into a web of dangerous political intrigue and will be forced to choose between her heart and her loyalty to her country.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780764232114
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/03/2019
Series: Hope and Glory Series , #1
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 57,582
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Camden is best known for her historical novels set in gilded-age America featuring clever heroines and richly layered storylines. Before she was a writer, she was an academic librarian at some of the largest and smallest libraries in America, but her favorite is the continually growing library in her own home. Her novels have won the RITA and Christy Awards and have appeared on the CBA bestsellers list.She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, who graciously tolerates her intimidating stockpile of books. Learn more at

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The Spice King 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
lsnlj 1 days ago
This is book one in the Hope and Glory series and I can't wait to read more from the series. I enjoyed getting to know the Delacroix and the Larkin families. I love the humor, sparks, mystery, family and all the twist and turns in this novel. Gray Delacroix and Annabelle Larkin have many similarities yet some complete opposites as well. I love their sparks and oddities. Gray and Annabelle come from two completely different worlds yet overall they both want the same thing, even if they don't realize it.
MelissaF 1 days ago
It was really interesting to learn a bit more about spices that are so easily accessible now. Like vanilla extract. We kind of take that for granted but it wasn’t always the case and it was a precious commodity. I enjoyed that aspect of the book. I also liked Annabelle and her struggle to being her own person but also taking care of her sister. Gray was a little harder to like, I didn’t care for his calculating way he pursued Annabelle, it seemed a little forced at times, at least in the beginning. But overall, this was an interesting read and I enjoyed it. A copy of this book was given to me. All opinions are my own.
Lattebooks 2 days ago
First of all, I adore how this author creates heroines with jobs that are not the norm in this era. How exciting to read about it and her struggles to make her place. Gray is the perfect brooding hero with a one-track mind! It is so sweet and fulfilling to see how his focus is changed and how Annabelle is a part of that. Details and crazy family dynamics make this a well rounded and page turning story. I also enjoyed the twist of political involvement and danger surrounding that. (don’t want to give anything away!) Second – now I want to use more spices in my food! Not sure the author was going for that, but it was a bonus to the story. Haha!
swissgranny 4 days ago
With a captivating storyline and colorful, well-drawn characters, Elizabeth Camden starts her new series, Hope & Glory, off with a bang. The striking cover and title captured my interest before I even knew what the story was about. Impeccable historical detail and complex plots are some of Camden’s strengths, and they are evident in The Spice King. Gray Delacroix and Annabelle Larkin seem to be opposites in many ways, but the chemistry between them is obvious and compelling. I liked Annabelle’s gutsy, optimistic courage and Gray’s love and care for his family. The outstanding cast of secondary characters added to my enjoyment of the story, and Camden’s clear, concise writing is a plus. Uplifting messages of importance of family, courage, hope, and forgiveness give added dimension and depth to the story. “God had never promised them a life free of sorrow, only the tools to hold and keep them through stormy days.” There is a bit of a cliff-hanger at the end but not enough to detract from the tale. I’m looking forward to Caroline’s story in the next book. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House/NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
ChatWithVera 7 days ago
From the very first pages of The Spice King until the very end, this story was amazing and I was enchanted. I found the background information sprinkled liberally throughout the book about the spice and flavoring industry and the cost to procure authentic products thoroughly captivating. I will never look at a little bottle of vanilla flavoring again without a heap of respect for its history. Set in 1900, the story captures the social temperature of the times with residual hatred for the effects from penalties imposed following the Civil War and on to the general distaste, disrespect, and disapproval of women in the professional work place. The characters were richly drawn by the author having them play their role in the story quite aptly. The naive Annabelle, who was bucking the social system by working as a professional in the government offices of the Smithsonian and later the Department of Agriculture, was a true treasure and a character readers will love. The male protagonist is Gray a quite wealthy man of around 40 who is very protective of the plants he has gleaned from around the world. He also has an embittered spirit toward the Government and governmental intrusion. The other supporting characters and each a joy to get to know in this story. Of course, you won't like them all as there are some quite unlikable. I heartily recommend The Spice King and it is an entertaining, historical read. DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Revell to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.
Arcrean_Pen 9 days ago
Another fantastic read from Camden! Peel back the cover (cleverly designed with vanilla coloring) and enter a gilded world flavored with the spices of romance, heartache, and political intrigue. The characters are loveable and relatable, and the story one to devour - leaving you grateful for the promise of more to come! Definitely one to add to your historical fiction collection. [I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.]
Faye_reviews 11 days ago
Farm-raised, Kansas native, and Smithsonian botanist Annabelle Larkin is swept into a world of conspiracy, food adulteration, and politics when she meets self-made man Grey Delacroix the head of a sizable spice empire. Grey has labored for years to build his business, foregoing a college education he travelled across the world collecting the most rare plants and learning how to cultivate them on foreign soil. He is smitten with the young Smithsonian botanist, with the gumption to ask him to donate his plant collection. But the enchantingly cheerful, passionate woman who brings light into his life, is also the one who can bring everything that matters crashing down. I've never met an Elizabeth Camden that I didn't love, and this one is no exception. Incredibly well written as well as researched, set at the turn of the 20th century, when food impurities were at a dangerous high due to few laws regulating disclosure and safety, this novel introduces the passionate and principled Delacroix family. I love how Ms. Camden brings the politics and advances of bygone eras to life in a way that brings new appreciation for the things that we take for granted everyday. Grey has worked hard for his success, he has devoted much of his life to his business in order to provide for his younger siblings Luke and Caroline, whom he practically raised. But underneath his intimidating outer layers, he is a man who is deeply loyal to his family and who has the grace and determination to keep growing, and always strive for better whether in his business or personal life. I admired his devotion to his siblings, he always wants the best for them, and there is no distance he would not go for them. Annabelle brings a bright enthusiasm wherever she goes, she is passionate about learning new things, is devoted to her sister and her country. She always is encouraging others to find joy in the everyday. Despite disappointments, she always tries to look on the bright side, she relies on her faith to hold her fast as she struggles to provide for herself and her sister, as well as to serve her country even if it means betraying a friend. Luke and Caroline shine as Grey slowly begins to see the man and woman that they have grown up to be in their own rights, each blessed with a double dose of charm. Both are so much more than they appear at a single glance. Overall, an absolutely thrilling introduction to what is sure to be a fantastic trilogy, I already love Luke and Caroline! Annabelle is faced with many hard choices, as she fights to stay true to her beliefs and her family. I loved the glimpse into life at the turn of the century amidst the buzz of the nation's capital, I'd never thought that the Agriculture Administration and the history of food adulteration would be so truly fascinating. Annabelle and Grey have captivating chemistry that leaps from the page, most evident in their engagingly clever dialogue and how their personalities complement each other perfectly. Annabelle's sister Elaine faces her fears and blazes her own trail, not letting her limitations choose for her. A thoroughly riveting read, with heroes who jump from the page, high stakes, faith, and romance. You won't want to miss it! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
MJK108 11 days ago
Elizabeth Camden tells a captivating story about Annabelle Larkin, an enterprising young woman fresh from the farm in Kansas who moves to Washington, D.C. to take a temporary job with the Smithsonian Institution. In a move to try and prolong her job in Washington, Annabelle takes on the challenge of Gray Delacroix and his exotic plant collection. As Annabelle and Gray find themselves struggling with a mutual attraction, outside forces step in to complicate their relationship. Annabelle finds that she must make some very difficult choices and in doing so jeopardizes her relationship with Gray. The story revolves around the conflict of doing what is right for your country and its people and doing what your heart wants you to do. The conflicts are complex when the choices Annabelle makes and has to live with impact her life in major ways. Not only does Annabelle learn some difficult lessons, but Gray also learns valuable lessons about important priorities in one’s life. Filled with historical data that is very interesting, this book will hold the reader’s attention from start to finish. I learned some amazing facts about food and the food industry during the late 1800’s. Don’t miss the author’s notes at the end of this book. A wonderful read for people who enjoy strong female characters and good historical fiction! This ARC copy was received from Bethany House and in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own. #TheSpiceKing #NetGalley
LifeofLiterature 12 days ago
I love the characters in Elizabeth Camden’s novels because they always have a perfect blend of spirited banter and complex romance. Like her other female characters, this book also has a strong lead female that is intelligent, ambitious, and ahead of her time. Annabelle is fiercely loyal to her family and does not let anything stop her from her goal. However, that does not mean she is perfect and some of her actions have consequences that affect her relationships in very real ways, causing the romantic conflict I have come to enjoy in Elizabeth Camden’s books. This novel also contains a fascinating time of history as well as an interesting peek into the topic of the purity of the food supply, a unique subject at the turn of the century. There was even incorporation of some of the tension of America’s relationship with Cuba. I really enjoyed reading about this part of history. The themes of forgiveness and mercy were integrated seamlessly. I truly enjoyed every part of this story and greatly look forward to the other books in the series! I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers/Elizabeth Camden in exchange for an honest review.
Bri23327 12 days ago
I can not say enough good things about The Spice King. It might be one of my new favorite books! this book is full of twist and turns, I honestly had no idea how it was going to end! I think the thing I loved most about this book was the strong female character. Sometimes when authors make their heroines have a strong personality they come off as abrasive and rude. That was not the case in The Spice King, Annabelle stood up for herself in a way that is really admirable and in a way I would like to be able to. I also loved the historical aspect of this book, I will admit to never having considered what food used to be like, or how additives and preservatives came into our food. The way Elizabeth Camden weaves these facts into a story is brilliant! I HIGHLY recommend this book! You will not be disappointed!
Phyllis_H 12 days ago
Love and political intrigue My rating is 4.5 stars Spice King, Gray Delacroix, had worked hard to build the spice empire that provided the lifestyle his younger twin siblings enjoyed. His dedication to the quality of the products they sold and disgust at the unscrupulous practices of his competitors led him to crusade for reform in the food industry that would lead to pure products and accurate descriptions of what was in them. As a label-reader, I was especially fascinated at learning more about how the listing of ingredients on products we buy came about. Yet, The Spice King is so much more than the story of why we list ingredients! As Annabelle was forced to find secrets of the Delacroix family at great personal cost to herself, her discovery ripped the curtain veiling Grey's eyes from the truth of what was going on in his own family! And he was able to see Luke and Caroline for the adults they had become instead of the younger siblings he helped raise. I love the way Elizabeth Camden's stories often place the hero and heroine on opposite sides of issues, yet fighting for the exact same thing. The irony makes for great stories. Annabelle and Gray had such a rocky relationship, as she worked for government departments he greatly opposed. Enticing descriptions of plants and spices peppered this story along with details of how they were prepared for market. At one point, Gray, upon learning Annabelle didn't know how to flavor her food other than with salt and pepper, gifted her with a set of spices that were basically foolproof. His choice of which ones to include was interesting. Political intrigue added a savory treat as Annabelle uncovered information that when revealed, rocked the Delacroix family to its core and destroyed the budding relationship she had with Grey. Having not retained much (or any!) of what I had learned in school about the McKinleys or the Spanish-American war, the tidbits shared gave me a zesty history lesson in a way that kept me interested and didn't make me feel like I was reading a textbook. And the parts that took place in Cuba! Fascinating! Be prepared to have your heart broken when Grey discovers Annabelle's part in the tragedy that took place! Annabelle's grief and the pain of the Delacroix siblings had me wiping my eyes. And then when she and Grey were forced to be together. . . Ouch!! I was particularly moved by Grey's assessment of Annabelle's mother after she continued to embarrass Annabelle and make herself odious. The way he was able to see the good in her and the way she helped form Annabelle's character was very admirable. I hope for a similar perspective when encountering difficult people. The characters were all so intriguing! I am hopeful that Luke and Caroline will get their own stories. In fact, I just might send an angry letter to the author if Luke isn't the hero of the next book. :-) Elizabeth Camden is a master of Christian Historical fiction, turning overlooked historical tidbits into stories that will keep you riveted. If you enjoy this genre, don't pass on The Spice King! Read my review of The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden at I was given a copy of this book. I was not required to give a favorable review nor was any money received for this review. All comments and opinions are my own.
PaulaShreckhise 12 days ago
I give this book 5 stars! The Spice King is book number one in the series Hope and Glory by historical author Elizabeth Camden. An avid fan of history, I relished this setting of 1900 in Washington D.C. and surrounding areas. I learned about the early days of regulating the food industry and the beginning of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. The glimpse into the Smithsonian and The Department Of Agriculture was fascinating. The explanations of the process involved in spice making were especially interesting. Ms. Camden has done a commendable job in her research. I love her writing style. Her characters were well drawn and you could see into their motivations. Annabelle Larkin finds a way to approach reclusive Spice Magnate, Gray Delacroix, in search of a cutting of a rare vanilla orchid. This could be the answer to the quandary of how to keep her blind sister, Elaine, doing productive work at the Library of Congress. She gets much more than she bargained for. Gray is a shrewd businessman and a man of integrity but he has strong political opinions. He is also dogged by Malaria and doesn’t know when the attacks will strike next. He has long taken care of his twin siblings, Caroline and Luke, who are twelve years his junior. They are adults now and have made their life choices. There is much intrigue to follow in this story and some of it is left unresolved, making the reader want to see what happens in future books involving Caroline and Luke. Don’t miss this wonderful story to find out what happens to Annabelle and Gray. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher on behalf of the author. I was not expected to write a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
simplyannehere 13 days ago
The Spice King By Elizabeth Camden First impressions: This is a great book that had me hoodwinked into staying up well past my bedtime to finish. This book is the first in a series and much was left unfinished. Now, I don’t know what to do with myself until the next book comes out. Annabelle brings her blinded sister to Washington DC in hopes to bring her out of her shell and find a new purpose. While her sister is discovering new beginnings volunteering at the Library of Congress, Annabelle is forging her way into the male dominate laboratory at the Smithsonian. Tasked with getting cuttings from the infamous and believed to be extinct original vanilla orchid Annabelle does what she can to make an impression not to be forgotten. That she does. Gray Delacroix is taken back by this young woman the moment he meets her. As their business is discussed the passion, they both have for agriculture blossoms into a romantic interest. I will give no more away but this, deception, political intrigue, and scandal make a rocky road for romance. On another note, I found it interesting to read about a topic that over 100 years later is still an issue. Perhaps not labeling food but the idea of what is in our food. The concern for our health and diet is very much relevant today and I enjoyed reading of past crusaders and their triumph to bringing pure unadulterated food to the public. I was provided with a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. For more book reviews visit my blog:
RachsRamblings 15 days ago
God led us here,” Annabelle whispered. “ He planted a hope in your heart that was strong enough to send us a thousand miles across the country. There is a reason, and we’ll keep going until we find it. We can’t falter now.” There is so much fascinating history in this read which is why I really enjoy this author’s novels. I never really considered that at one time salt and pepper was spicing up a dish-because it’s what they had. In this book, I really could feel the joy Annabelle experienced as she tried so many new spices and fruits that were incredibly rare in the early 1900’s. The historical information about foods, Department of Agriculture, Smithsonian Institute, and so many other things made for a terrific and unique book setting. The Department of Agriculture played a huge role in our food supply-a much larger one than i ever knew.The characters are incredibly well done. I’m hoping for more from these characters in the future. This book combines so many good elements: It’s historical information and backdrop, information about the blind, incredibly well written and developed characters, and a forgiveness faith theme. All of the intertwined to make for a superb and enjoyable read. In this case you can judge the book by its cover, and the cover is magnificent! I received this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own. I never wanted to be blind, but if it’s the price I must pay to have found Walter Talbot…then I’m glad it happened.”
Mauri 17 days ago
Elizabeth Camden's books are always very well written and researched. I always learn so much about our country's history by reading her books. In The Spice King, we learn about the problem of adulterated foods in 1900, the production of vanilla, the search for a heartier strain of wheat, and intrigue in Cuba. Annabelle Larkin is a young woman botanist from Kansas working in Washington DC at the Smithsonian and later at the Department of Agriculture. Her boss wants her to persuade Gray Delacroix to donate his plant collection to the Smithsonian. Gray has traveled the world for the past twenty years importing spices and amassing an extensive plant collection. Though he has no intention of donating plants, he's impressed with Annabelle. As she gets to know Gray, his sister Caroline and brother Luke, Annabelle is pressed by two army generals to find information that puts her in an almost impossible position and threatens her relationship with Gray. I'm glad to know this is the first of a series so we will be able to read more about these characters. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a bit of romance with a strong dose of history.
AndreaBy 17 days ago
This story is set in 1900, primarily in the Washington/Virginia area. This time the author brings the interesting facet of food imitations and the beginning of testing for such things, as well as the fight for labeling. I love the interesting tidbits she brings to her stories, as well as the characters that are easy to relate to. We meet the Delacroix family, Gray, Luke and Caroline. Gray takes the lead role in this story, along with Annabelle, who is from Kansas. Her and her sister have traveled here to give her sister, Elaine, some meaningful work. Annabelle works in an area the Gray has little to no tolerance for, yet he loves her optimistic attitude and gumption. We get glimpses of other people, including Otis, Captain Haig, Roy and Maude Larkin and a few others. Gray has always felt responsible for his younger siblings, and even though they are 28 now, he takes a good portion of the story before he realizes they are their own people and to support them instead of making them into who he thinks they should be. Annabelle has a deep sense of loyalty to her country, intermingled with naivete of the city’s ways and her wonderfully optimistic attitude. Both characters, though different in personality are easy to relate to, and the story is both intriguing and filled with a plot depth to keep one engaged and turning pages. Looking forward to seeing where book 2 and 3 take us, presuming they will be about Caroline and Luke. A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher. A review was not required and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
DixieJudy 17 days ago
Camden has written a most interesting book where we learn a lot about spices and mostly centered around pure vanilla extract and how it is obtained. The Spice King is filled with historical data that is very interesting. It is well written and has very strong interesting characters that will hold the reader’s attention from start to finish.  Annabelle Larkin is a very determined  young lady who wants to succeed in her new job at the Smithsonian. Gray Delacroix is a determined bachelor and almost a recluse. When the two meet they rub each other the wrong way. The clashes begin.......but we have a very good ending.            I read an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
RobinWillson 17 days ago
"The world was a good place. She needed to look for it, even when life was full of pain." 1900 Washington DC. Christian Historical. I was all in on the first page. This is intense. Annabelle is from a farming family in Kansas. Her father was able to put her and her sister through college, which is quite a thing now, even more so back then. She and Elaine move to Washington, DC, she at the Smithsonian (later Department of Agriculture), her sister at the Library of Congress. Elaine is blind, and this seemed to be a great opportunity for her to learn and to grow, so despite the financial strain on the family, off they went. Annabelle is a botanist (something I very much had wanted to be so I can relate). Her boss wanted a rare plant that Gray Delacroix was rumored to have, and told her that a permanent position depended on her getting in to Gray's property to see if it was there. She is pleasantly pushy (I pictured June Allison) and actually manages to get in to see him. Gray is from a wealthy family, built on hard work, and it takes more hard work to keep the fortunes going. Their family has earned their reputation by providing the best quality products. Not every company was that way. These were the early days when there was a lack of safety standards in the food industry, so companies could get away with putting out a product that was not what it seems. (Doesn't seem possible now, does it?) The story unfolds interesting information about Good Housekeeping in it's early days - what they did and why - and how important to our country it was. The story takes off from there, seeming to put Annabelle on one side of things and Gray on the other. Gray's brother never really wanted to work for the family - or so it seemed. Politics, secrets, money, mystery and life all play a part in this book. Choices made, right from wrong, scruples and personal standards are reviewed and explored. Integrity - or lack of it. Nothing boring here - all together an excellent read! Don't you just love that cover? Can't wait for the next in the series. "The world was a huge, wide-ope landscape bursting with opportunity, and it was up to her to choose how she would live in it." Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher and NetGalley book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” #TheSpiceKing #NetGalley #ElizabethCamden #BooksYouCanFeelGoodAbout
candicervaldez 17 days ago
I love reading Elizabeth Camden's books because she can take a piece of history and make it come alive in the book. I always learn so much when reading, and this book was no different. I will always read her books for this reason. I do feel, though, that the historical aspect of the book took away from the romance of the book. I didn't feel a spark between the characters, and i didn't feel like they engaged enough to have any chemistry between them. I will read the next book in the series, but this was not my favorite Camden book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
SBMC 18 days ago
“She embodied laughter and optimism and steadfast determination. Being with her felt like wind in his sails, filling him with buoyant optimism.” Elizabeth Camden has done it again! What a fascinating story from the beginning to end! This beautifully written and masterfully crafted tale takes us first to 1900 Alexandria, VA as Gray is building his spice trade empire and Annabelle is starting a new life in Washington DC as a botanical specialist in the Smithsonian. As Annabelle and Gray meet while she’s searching for the original vanilla orchid, their lives intertwine to include intrigue, romance, betrayal, and matters of national security. There are plenty of plot twists to keep you on your toes and there is still a smoldering question unanswered by the end of the book, which should make the sequel very interesting. I really enjoyed learning about the spice trade, the intricate process of making vanilla extract, the beginning of quality control in processed food items spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture, and how our scientists went all over the world looking for seeds and fruits to diversify our food supply. The premise and plot are quite original and captivating, as is the storytelling. Equally captivating are the characters in the story. Gray, the sober and disciplined businessman, and Annabelle, the bright and sunny botanist with an expertise in cereal grasses, are absolute opposites in personality and outlook on life. Yet they’re drawn like magnets to each other and learn what grace, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness really mean through trials and tribulations. Gray’s brother Luke and sister Caroline are also fascinating; I can’t wait for the next book to get to know Caroline better. Truly this is a historical fiction not to be missed. I received a copy of the book from Bethany House Publishers and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.
BarbaraAnne 18 days ago
I greatly enjoyed this entertaining story. The cover and the title intrigued me. I much appreciate when a book teaches me about a time and answers some questions that I never knew I had. I liked learning about the Good Housekeeping Seal of approval; I was fascinated to learn that departments within the US government were beginning to look at food additives even in 1900. I spent many years living in the spice islands, so I loved all the facts slipped in about pure vanilla extract, versus imitation vanilla, etc. One of my favorite things about foreign foods is all the excellent exotic blending of spices. So yes, the topic was interesting. And the subject of food labeling has lingering effects today, how closely do we read food labels? I never thought about when food labels became an issue. Thus, I liked the story before I even met the colorful characters. They were believable, varied, and fun. The story itself had lots of twists and turns and kept me reading late and then taking a book day to finish it - the mark of a great story. From reading some of my family histories, I know early 1900 was a time when women were beginning to have more significant posts in Washington. I especially liked the location for the story. Elizabeth Camden added so many interesting historical facts about the period, women’s careers, etc. Historical Fiction is my favorite genre- I like touches of romance, but not mainly romance- this fit the ticket for me. A five-star book and looking forward to next in the series. Lots of lingering questions, but a satisfying ending. The publisher provided this book. A review was not required but willingly given.
TheCompulsiveReader7 18 days ago
(4.5 stars) - excellent... and thought-provoking Elizabeth Camden's new book is a really well done story with thoroughly engaging characters that also poses some challenging questions. It contains all the fascinating historical insights we've come to expect; this one covering some of the major contributions to the development of food labeling laws (as well as touching on aspects of the development of the Agricultural Agency, President McKinley's presidency and our relationship with Cuba at the time). The romance between Gray and Annabelle is fun and warm and sweet. Then comes the conflict. And it's a doozy. While I thought the story was told fairly plausibly, and wanted to see them back together, I suspect the resolution of the story is going to be controversial with readers. I loved the book and am eagerly looking forward to the next, but confess to struggling a bit with the resolution myself. ***SPOILERS*** I think the one part that would have made it easier for me to believe they could reconcile would have been if, once Annabelle knew it wasn't Gray, she had arranged to meet him somewhere publicly like a park or outdoor café & let him know what she had been more or less forced to do, rather than trying to continue on with him as if she knew nothing & hope that Gray never found out. That she did try to hide it was very human & understandable, but still less than upright & made her own actions look far more suspicious, devious even. Had she been completely open with him as soon as she was able, though, it would have made it easier for me to see Gray's eventual willingness to accept her, to view her as a woman of integrity and want to be with her again. ***END SPOILERS*** *Clean romance level: sweet kisses *Religion: fairly generic Christianity, completely organic to the story, not preachy
AE2 18 days ago
This was a really unique piece of historical fiction. It was really interesting to see Gray's business pursuits and the development of spices that we take for granted in our day, particularly alongside the government aspect, with the Smithsonian wanting information and the Department of Agriculture wanting to start regulating the growing business. Saying a book talks about the beginning of the fight for food safety and ingredient labels, that might not make it sound very appealing, but it was really fascinating, which I think shows Camden's talent for taking a unique part of history and making it engaging so that readers find themselves totally caught up in something that they didn't think they'd ever find that interesting. (I expected the "spice" aspect of the book to be the thing I liked least, but I really enjoyed it!) The political setting, with the brief look at the aftermath of the Spanish-American war, was also something Camden made me want to know more about. The plot was good, with suspense and action and family dynamics, and moved along well. I definitely want to read the next book in the series to see how things play out for certain characters. What didn't work quite as well for me was the romance, particularly on Annabelle's side. I just didn't see her feelings being developed enough. Gray's feelings were shown more than hers were, but I just didn't ever get a good sense of chemistry between them. They worked well on projects--sometimes because they antagonized each other!--but I would have liked a stronger romantic feel. The other thing that fell a little short for me was the Christian aspect. There was very little that came through about Christian beliefs (and the biggest part of that was very close to the end of the book), to the point that I actually double-checked to make sure this really was being put out by Bethany House. So, with that said, if you're mainly interested in historical fiction, this an excellent choice. If you're looking for a great romance or a book with overt Christianity, this might not be the best choice. For me, it's interesting enough that I'll give it 3.5 stars and I want to continue with the series. I read an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Pattistep 18 days ago
Elizabeth Camden is fast becoming one of my top favorite authors in the genre of Christian historical fiction. This story was unusual and the storyline kept me guessing all the way through to the end of the book. Gray has the reputation of being “The Spice King” as far as selling and developing spices, and Annabelle is a researcher at the Department of Agriculture. There’s quite a bit of intrigue surrounding the development and sale of the spices. Gray and Annabelle find themselves working together to protect consumers from being deceived about the purity of what they are buying. But Annabelle is forced into an almost impossible decision, and it completely tears apart her relationship with Gray. The political intrigue in this story was quite interesting, but it’s Gray and Annabelle’s characters that give this story it’s spark. Annabelle has Kansas roots and is loyal, patriotic, determined, and committed to her family. Gray is somewhat cynical and unforgiving. but you always have the sense that if he breaks out of the shell he’s built around himself, he’s a good match for Annabelle. Their road to romance is a rocky one, and quite honestly did not end the way that I suspected at first that it would. I especially loved the ending to this story as there were a couple of surprises along the way. I enjoyed reading this story and look forward to the next book in this series. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Christianfictionandmore 18 days ago
Elizabeth Camden's Empire State series focused on the issue of providing clean water to our citizens. The Spice King focuses on the safety of the food products we find our our grocers' shelves. I love that the books I have read by this author include a romantic story, but that the main focus of the tales have had deeper social and spiritual themes. Annabelle Larkin moved to our nation's capitol to accompany her sister who had been blinded by meningitis and was seeking her purpose by volunteering in the reading room for the blind in the Library of Congress. A botanist, Annabelle had been blessed to find a temporary job as a botanical specialist at the Smithsonian Institute, but she longed to prove herself worthy of a permanent position. To do so she must convince Gray Delacroix, owner of the Delacroix Global Spice Company, to part with cuttings from a very rare orchid that he was rumored to possess. Gray was no fan of the Smithsonian nor many government agencies either, and he was not about to partner with any of them. How much might his mind be changed when he first encounters Annabelle, in his own home nonetheless? I highly recommend The Spice King and this author. I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Bethany House via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review, and I received no monetary compensation.