Dawn of Desire by Joyce Verrette was written in 1976, when sensual historicals and bodice rippers were the hottest books in romance. Alas, this book qualifies as neither.
Book Series: Egypt Series #1
Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Ancient World Romance, Paranormal Romance
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader
Dawn of Desire by Joyce Verrette was an early romance of the “modern era.” Published by Avon in 1976, I expected this book would feature some rollicking action and tawdry lovemaking. However, I found Dawn of Desire to be a passionless read.
The first 200 pages are dull, with events occurring that were not fleshed out. Fortunately, the last half of Dawn of Desire was compelling enough for me to finish.
The opening chapter sets the soporific tone of the book, where everybody is either lying down to avoid the heat, sleeping or waking up. Traveling down the Nile on her ship, our heroine Nefrytataten engages in the same activities for pages on end.
It was like that old meme “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat,” without the “rave.” Just some “eat” and a lot of “sleep.”
Queen Nefrytataten of Tamehu and Prince Amenemhet of Tashemau are betrothed to marry to unite the two kingdoms of Egypt. When they meet, it’s love at first sight for the blue-eyed Queen and golden-eyed prince: a very boring love. Unfortunately, insta-luv stories without internal conflict usually are.
Before they can enjoy their honeymoon, the Queen’s ship is attacked. A handsome desert bandit kidnaps Nefrytataten, and she gets amnesia in the process.
As evil priests plot to control the Upper and Lower Kingdoms, the newly crowned King searches for his wife, disguising himself as a commoner.
A setup like this should have led to a riveting tale, but the author’s voice was so bland, and the dominoes fell predictably.
There was no tension: villains were introduced and quickly dispatched. Lovers reunite.
The latter half of the book is actually more interesting. Nefrytataten and Amenemhet travel across the Mediterranean into the ocean to Atlantis. They discover that Atlantis is the source of Egypt’s heritage.
Ghosts appear, and magical spells are cast. A priestess plots to seduce Amenemhet and kill the Queen.
A silver cat, a cobra, a hawk, and some more ghosts save the day.
If Joyce Verrette’s Dawn of Desire had been marketed differently, I would have approached this Ancient Egypt-set romance novel with a more open mind. Perhaps I would not have been as disinterested as I initially was.
Despite the title and the sort-of-clinch cover, this is not genre romance but paranormal historical fiction. I went into this expecting a bodice-ripper or at least a sensual historical, as the book blurb, cover, and title implied.
Final Analysis of Dawn of Desire
What I enjoyed so much about older romances were the elaborate plots that made them page-turners. Dawn of Desire suffered from inconsistent pacing. This was the first in Joyce Verrette’s trilogy about Ancient Egypt, so there’s plenty of room for further character development. Since I own one of the sequels, I’ll read it one day.
Hopefully, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I enjoyed the ancient Egyptian setting and some of the paranormal events, but the love story was not the central aspect. I found Suzanne Robinson’s Egypt-set novel, Heart of the Falcon, to be more focused on romance and, therefore, a better book.
As a romance, Dawn of Desire is lacking, but as a historical fantasy epic, it’s pretty good.
Slap a different cover on this and give it a different title, and I think I would have liked it more.
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THE BLAZING, TUMULTUOUS NOVEL OF A LOVE AS OLD AS TIME, AS TIMELESS AS FOREVER.
Their story comes to us across the centuries – the splendrous immortal saga of a love which begins in a far-away time by the shores of the ancient River Nile. The unbounded passion of the incomparably beautiful Princess Nefrytaten and the tawny-skinned Prince Ameni sweeps across the torrid landscape of Egypt as the two lovers, wrenched asunder by treacherous events, must brave peril, degradation, and intrigue before their twin desires can find release and once more, in a surging tide of full-blooded passion and joy.Dawn of Desire by Joyce Verrette