This second installment in Scott’s (Priestess of the Nile, 2012, etc.) Gods of Egypt series features black magic, Nile cruises and a couple’s struggle to thwart their divinely ordained destiny.
Khenet, the only survivor of his tribe, is the adopted brother of the current pharaoh as well as a member of his guard. Khenet has been selected for an unusual mission: At the request of the goddess Nephthys, he is to be the lone escort of her descendant Lady Tiya, bringing the highborn young woman to wed Smenkhotep, nomarch (governor) of the Viper Nome province. Smenkhotep, who is rumored to be in league with dark gods and the Hyskos enemies of Egypt, has used magic to prevent the Egyptian Great Ones, like Nephthys, from entering his domain. The goddess intends to slip through the boundary by taking over Tiya’s body. Both Khenet and Tiya realize this is a suicide mission for them both; at first resigned to their fate, they decide to find a way to escape the deadly plans of both the goddess and nomarch. Not only that, they fall in love. Scott’s ancient Egyptian milieu should pique the interest of historical-romance readers looking for a story set outside the usual scenery, and her decision to allow the characters naturalistic dialogue instead of forced, old-timey vernacular is a smart one. The presence of Egyptian gods is an intriguing choice as well, lending a fantasy aspect that also reinforces the matter-of-fact attitude many ancient peoples took toward their deities. However, though Scott has clearly done her research, the details don’t quite cohere into a unified culture. Khenet and Tiya, too, are both rather paint-by-numbers, he the hardened warrior with a secret sorrow, she the lady of rank who’d rather sketch the scenery than gossip. Their love affair proceeds predictably and seems a bit rushed.
An inventive setting for an ultimately conventional story.