The Virgin's Secret is the first book in a new series by Victoria Alexander about the three Harrington brothers. First, for those of you dedicated, hardcore Regency types, be aware that Alexander has left her ususal Regency period milieu for the Victorian - 1885 to be specific. But, if you like archeological type stories bordering on Indiana Jones but with a few cravats thrown in, this book may be for you. As the first in a series, it does lay a foundation for future books, though it ebbs and flows quite slowly, but not enough to deter me from finishing the book with an audible “Hmm” for the future.
Gabriella Montini is beautiful and bright. She's studied hard and hoped to make her mark in life by supporting her brother Enrico and his archeological pursuits. After his mysterious death, she's on a determined quest to prove he wasn't insane, restore his reputation and find the archeological cylinder in question. She is ready and willing to do whatever it takes to find the cylinder.
Nathanial Harrington is an adventurer. He's just arrived home in time for his younger sisters come out when he spies the most beautifully exotic woman walking along the terrace. She seems a bit out of sorts so, up for an adventure, he follows her into the library only to find her behind the desk with a letter opener in her hand. He tries to capture her using his usual methods but the mysterious woman slips through his hands and into the night.
After Gabriella is caught breaking into Nathanial's home, his mother insists she move in until the mystery comes to a conclusion. Or, does his mother have an entirely different purpose in mind? Together, they set out to discover the truth in her brother Enrico's statements. The work brings them closer but a fundamental distrust looms large between them. Can she trust him with what she knows about her brother and the seal? Can he trust her to be honest about what she knows? Together they set out to find the truth and wind up in a murderous mystery-filled archeological conundrum filled with sexual tension and a few twists neither of them saw coming.
The book was good - not great, but definitely good. It tended to grab me then push me away only to grab me again. It truly ebbed and flowed. I couldn't decide if it was dry in spots because it was introducing the series and its players or if that's just how the book was written. It definitely has its witty moments. Nathaniel is quite lovable and easy to like. Gabriella is a bit annoying in spots but not enough to make you hate her.
Overall, I found The Virgin's Secret to be very uneven, with too many highs and lows resulting in a just average read.