MILD SPOILERS 😉
If Joyce Verette’s Dawn of Desire had been marketed differently, I would have read this Ancient Egypt-set novel with an open mind. Then I would not have been as disinterested as I initially was. This is not a romance novel, but paranormal historical fiction. The cover was a clinch, so I figured it was a bodice-ripper, as it and the title implied. Published by Avon in the mid-1970s, I imagined it would feature some rollicking and tawdry love-making. Mostly, I found Dawn’s Desire passionless.
The first 200 pages are dull, with events happening that were quick and not fleshed out. Fortunately, the last half of the book was compelling enough for me to finish.
The story begins with the opening chapter where everybody lies in the heat, sleeping or waking up. Floating on her ship on the Nile, our heroine engages in the same activities for pages on end. It was like 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. 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. 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 that the dominoes fell predictably. There was no tension: villains are 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 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.
Final Analysis of Dawn of Desire
What I enjoy so much about older romances were the elaborate plots that made them page-turners. This book was not a romance, so it was paced differently. As it’s the first in a trilogy, there’s plenty of room for character development. Since I own one of the sequels, I’ll read it.
One day. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I enjoyed the ancient Egyptian setting and some of the paranormal events, but the love story was not the main aspect. I found Suzanne Robinson’s Egypt-set novel, Heart of the Falcon, was more focused on romance, therefore a better book. As a romance Dawn of Desire is lacking, but as history-fantasy-epic, it’s fairly good.
Slap a different cover and rename the book, and I think I would have liked it more.