Delilah Drummond is notorious for her fast cars, numerous lovers, and societal scandals. When she marries a prince who commits suicide before their divorce, her attorney and mother Mossy believe she must lie low until the media furor dies down. So Delilah escapes to Kenya, to her step-father’s dilapidated farm, where she must adapt to voracious mosquitos, man-eating lions, racial tensions between the natives and British colonists, and a farm in deplorable condition. Delilah is tougher than one might think – she comes from tough stock as the granddaughter of a wealthy New Orleans plantation owner and former Confederate Colonel, so she’s handy with a rifle, quick to give opinions, and not the delicate flower many suppose her to be. But Delilah’s scandalous way of life is rooted in deep emotional trauma and even in Africa, those ghosts are impossible to outrun.
I am enormously fond of most of Ms. Raybourn’s books, however this one fell a bit flat. Delilah is a difficult heroine to like much of the time – she’s often selfish, spoiled, judgmental, and callous. But that wasn’t the part I disliked. Rather, I found Delilah to be flawed but in the most fascinating of ways. I wish she had a narrative more deserving of her complex nature. The narrative itself felt trite. Delilah uncovers racial injustice in the governor’s office, a lazy, abusive, and racist farm manager must be fired, a pious, disapproving family member tries and fails to keep Delilah in line. The romance also felt hollow here, which is unusual in Ms. Raybourn’s other novels. Delilah as a character and Kenya as a setting are superb. I only wish the narrative had echoed that. I remain a devoted fan of Ms. Raybourn’s work, but this wasn’t one of my favorites. Instead, I’d point readers to her new Veronica Speedwell series (the first book is reviewed here).
Amazon link is here.