When it comes to my enemies, the men who fear the goddess grails, I'm more than happy to encourage their change of leadership! But since I'm Magdalene Sanger, Grailkeeper, my first goal is still rescuing lost goddess chalices. I can't pass up the chance to join an archeologist friend (who may be more of a friend) in exploring the underwater palace of Cleopatra in Alexandria, Egypt. Before I can say "Isis Grail," I'm being endangered by sabotage of the expedition, threatened by local crime lords, and involved in an international custody dispute. All that and romantic troubles too? Even in Egypt, the power of the goddess carries intense consequences...
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"Evelyn Vaughn delivers another fantastic chapter in her Grail Keepers
series. The search for the mystical grails of the ancient goddesses takes
Maggi Sanger to Egypt, where she'll face both old and new enemies. Maggi is
used to operating with a target on her back, but this time it's her on-again,
off-again lover Lex Stuart who may be in the most danger. Vaughn combines
modernity and mysticism as she extends the empowering mythology of the
series. The author's characters continue to be particularly well written,
making HER KIND OF TROUBLE (4 1/2) an emotional roller coaster as well as a
Evelyn Vaughn's Grailkeepers series continues in Her Kind of Trouble. This is another thrilling, action-packed ride that proves Vaughn is one author who really "gets" what a Silhouette Bombshell book should be.
Maggi Sanger is on a mission to locate long-missing grails, cups with magical properties that were made centuries ago to contain the powers of goddesses. As a Grailkeeper, it is Maggi's family legacy to protect the grails from those who seek to destroy them. When she receives information about an archaeological excavation that could lead to the Isis Grail, she races to Egypt. She's barely off the plane before she finds herself threatened by a sword-wielding attacker who tells her to get out of Egypt. Then she arrives at the underwater site of Isis's ancient temple, only to discover an old nemesis waiting for her. Catrina Dauvergne previously stole the Melusine Grail from Maggi. Now the Frenchwoman is bound and determined to keep the Isis Grail out of her hands as well.
Maggi turns to an Egyptian woman for information on the Isis Grail, only to learn the woman wants her to do something in return before she hands over the info. Dr. Tala Rachid's stepson - who happens to be Maggi's sword-wielding attacker - recently kidnapped his daughter from his English ex-wife, who had custody of the girl, and brought her to Egypt. The local officials have been no help whatsoever, since local law states a father has absolute control over his child there. In exchange for information on the grail, Tala and her former daughter-in-law want Maggi to help them smuggle the girl back to safety.
As if that's not enough, Maggi still has to deal with her relationship with the enigmatic Lex Stuart. She loves him, but is still wary about trusting him, since he's involved with an ancient organization that may be responsible for trying to destroy the grails in the first place. With adversaries at every turn and a lover she can't entirely trust, Maggi has a lot on her plate. Fortunately, she's woman enough to rise to the occasion.
As the second book in the series, it doesn't stand on its own, and I'm not sure it would work for anyone who hasn't read the first one, A.K.A. Goddess (which earned DIK status from me earlier this year). It picks up not long after that book, continuing the storyline and the characters in a way that flows directly out of the events of the earlier book. Vaughn offers the kind of fleeting exposition intended to remind readers what happened prior to this story, and even as someone who had read that book, I still felt like I was playing catch-up, trying to remember everything. I can't imagine newcomers fully comprehending all of the exposition or understanding its importance. A.K.A. Goddess probably should be read first for maximum enjoyment of this one.
Her Kind of Trouble isn't quite as good as A.K.A. Goddess. It's not as tightly written and the plot seems a little more sprawling and uneven. There were occasional moments in some of the action sequences I thought could have been written with a bit more clarity so it was easier to understand what was happening. But as with the first book, this is another hugely entertaining read packed with nonstop action and excitement. It's a creative tale that makes good use of Egyptian legends to create a fascinating story around these modern-day characters.
Maggi is a great heroine, a smart, tough and resilient woman more than capable of fending for herself. Once again, Vaughn writes a story where Maggi saves the day on her own with her wits and her strength. She's very human without being weak. I liked how this story had strongly feminist themes without being manhating. And once again told in first person, the narrative contains nice moments of wry humor in Maggi's distinctive voice.
Like the first book, this one only got better as it went along. The story picks up such momentum over the course of the book that I soon forgot my quibbles about some of the plotting and became completely sucked in to this tale. Also again, this isn't strictly a romance (the Bombshell line is series fiction rather than series romance), but the love story has some very effective moments, more than many straight romances provide. Maggi and Lex's relationship continues to grow from where we last left them. This includes a love scene that is unique and very interesting. It's also not just sex for sex's sake, but plays a role in the plot. The story builds to a compelling dramatic climax with a great showdown scene and a satisfying conclusion that leaves the door open for more adventures for these characters.
Her Kind of Trouble is a good old-fashioned page-turner. I thought some elements of the writing could have been stronger, but that's almost beside the point. This is one of those books where it's all about the story, about being swept up in grand adventure and exotic places. It's pure fun from start to finish.
-- Leigh T, All About Romance
Her Kind of Trouble
Silhouette Bombshell, Nov 2004, $5.50
Two months have passed since Magdalene "Maggie" Sanger secured the Melusine Grail although goons of her enemy billionaire slimeball Phil Stuart tried to stop her. After somehow costing Phil his latest girlfriend, the Clemons College Professor of comparative mythology wonders whether she can trust his cousin, her beloved former lover Alexander "Lex" Stuart with her back if he has to choose.
Meanwhile Maggie learns that her next assignment as a Grail Keeper is to travel to Egypt to search for the missing Isis Grail. She knows the trek will prove even more dangerous than the previous venture where she alone almost lost her life because Phil will send his hired assassins to follow her and kill her if she succeeds. Still Maggie knows her responsibility lies in Egypt still wondering if she can trust her life with Lex.
The latest Grail Keeper suspense thriller adds to the delightful mythos established in A.K.A. GODDESS yet HER KIND OF TROUBLE is a stand alone thriller. Magnificent Maggie is a terrific heroine carrying out her responsibilities while pondering her love life as she has deep feelings for Lex, but has doubts on whose side he is on. Fantasy romance readers will have a field day with this strong novel that makes the unbelievable seem genuine with little nuances and low keyed incidents serving as the foundation for a magical story.
"The second in the Goddess series and what a series it is!!"
If you read and enjoyed A. K. A. GODDESS by Evelyn Vaughn, then this is the second in the series and what as series this is turning out to be. This book makes me want to be Magdalene Sanger! She is strong, independent and intelligent. What more is there?
In this story, Maggi is after the Isis Cup. This takes her on a quest to Egypt when Rhys, the ex-priest Maggi befriended in the first book, calls and tells her that someone keeps trying to kill him. He isn't sure if it's because of the quest for Isis' sunken temple or what. Maggi decides that she'll just have to go find out for herself.
Lex, Maggi's ex-fiancé is reticent about her going but what can he do? She's just too independent for her own good and his peace of mind. He does give her an old wedding band and tells her to wear it for her own protection while in Egypt. Maggi humors him but knows she needs more than a wedding ring to keep her safe but she decides to do something about that once she arrives in Egypt.
The minute she gets there and meets up with Rhys, they are attacked at the airport. This only serves to make Maggi extremely angry and when a local doctor asks for Maggi's help smuggling her granddaughter out of the country and they find out that it's her step-son making a pest of himself, Maggie isn't sure what to do. When Tala tells Maggi she's one of the keepers of the Isis cup, then Maggi can do nothing but help.
This is only the beginning of this intriguing action packed no holds barred book. We go on underwater dives for the sunken temple to secret pyramids where a secret society is holding a competition of sorts. I know I was on the edge of my seat throughout the whole book. I've thoroughly enjoyed the whole series thus far and eagerly look forward to the next grail adventure! Evelyn Vaughn, just keep writing them because I'm ready to read them!
Reviewed by Kathy Boswell, The Best Reviews
Posted December 5, 2004
Yet another great read! I'm so happy that I've had a great run lately! This is the continuation to the Grail Keeper saga and takes place in Egypt. Maggi Sanger is on the prowl again, this time for the cup of Isis. The action in this was fantastic and I love the fact that Maggie, Lex and Rhys all help each other out of jams...there's never a white knight coming in to save the day, instead, the characters have to use their inner strength and kick-ass fighting abilities to ensure that in the end, evil does not prevail. A definite recommendation! You'll love the strong characters, action, some VERY steamy love scenes and a well-developed paranormal backstory. Pick this one up!
One moment I was studying the five-thousand-year-old statue of a husband and wife, one of several in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's sprawling Egyptian wing. What kind of romantic problems had they faced, I mused. Deception? Cross purposes? Old wounds? Had love won out?
The next moment, I sensed someone behind me, all size and impatience and body heat.
And not in a nice way.
"So you decided to be good, huh Maggi?" The voice was too thick to be pleasant even if its owner tried.
I recognized billionaire slimeball, Phil Stuart, even before I turned. And here I'd thought that this $1000/plate event was exclusive.
"I'm always good," I told him, masking my unease as I turned anyway. Phil was nobody I wanted at my back. "But if you mean well-behaved, maybe not."
"You gave up on those stupid goddess cups, right?"
Gave up? It hadn't been two months since I'd rescued the antique chalice of my ancestors, a holy relic called the Melusine Grail, from thugs sent by this guy. Since then, I'd been preoccupied helping nurse my sometimes-lover back to health after a vicious knife attack.
By more thugs.
Probably sent by this guy.
Supposedly the two incidents were unrelated. I didn't need psychic abilities to doubt that. Either way, I'd had an excellent reason for not seeking out a second chalice.
I didn't need Phil tossing out double-dog dares.
Phil Stuart always looked a little off to me. Like a poor imitation of something better. Other than to check for the bulge of a gunor a ceremonial knifeunder his tux, I barely glanced at him before noting the two suited gentlemen lurking by the ancient stone archway. Was he kidding?
"Right?" He leaned closer, into my personal space. "You've given up on those stupid goddess cups?"
"Not your business." I knew how to stand my ground, even in two-inch, ankle-flattering heels. "Back off."
He wasn't an immediate danger to me. This may sound weird, but ever since I'd drunk from the Chalice of Melusine--my family goddess, a goddess renowned for her prophetic scream--my intuition had sharpened to the point that my throat tightened whenever something threatened me. And my throat felt fine just now.
Then again, Phil rarely did his own dirty work.
He raised his voice. "Or what?"
A smooth voice beyond him said, "Or you'll make your date jealous."
Speaking of deception, cross purposes, and old wounds.
Lex, my sometimes lover and current escort, had returned from fetching champagne. Beside him stood a small, blond woman in an expensive gown. A black gown, naturally--this was a New York arts event. But Lex, healthy again and wearing a tuxedo with an ease GQ models would envy, was the one on whom my gaze lingered.
Alexander Rothschilde Stuart III wasn't so tall he towered, nor so athletic that he bulged. His ginger-brown hair sported an expensive but conservative cut. His face revealed generations of upper-class ancestors, all pulling together in the sweep of his jaw, his cheeks, his nose, understated and yet, well perfect.
Maybe too perfect. But, good or bad, it was him. Lex was what Phil, his cousin, could never copy. When I wanted him, that was great. When I felt unsure of our relationship, it really complicated matters.
Lately, things had been very complicated.
"Maggi," Lex said coolly, passing me a champagne flute, "Have you met Phil's new girlfriend, Tammy?"
"Let's go," said Phil--but I was already taking Tammy's manicured hand in my own.
"Pleased to meet you," I said. "I'm Magdalene Sanger. Are you sure you know what you're doing with this guy?"
"Hey!" Phil protested.
Tammy's eyes widened. Her lips parted. "Why do you--?" Then, quickly, she looked down at our hands.
I'm not psychic, sore throats aside. I just knew Phil.
"Now," Phil insisted. But this reception was for patron-circle members, on a Monday night when the museum normally closed to the public. If he made a scene, he would do so in front of the crème de la crème of city society. I hadn't pushed him that far. Yet.
Then again, this was my first drink of the evening.
Tammy slid an annoyed glance toward Phil, then said, "Pleased to meet you, Magdalene. That's a fascinating necklace you're wearing."
"Thank you. It's called a chalice-well pendant. It--"
"Enough!" Sure enough, at Phil's exclamation several patrons turned to see who had been so gauche. Even Lex's lips twitched, which is about as close to a guffaw as my ex-lover is capable. "Stop talking to her, damn it!"
Tammy blinked, as if seeing him for the first time, then laughed. "Why in the world should I not talk to her?"
"Probably because his wife left him after talking to me," I guessed. That had been shortly after Lex landed in the hospital. The woman had good reason to be concerned.
Now my throat tightened in warning.
I spun in my heels and nailed Phil with a glare that stopped him cold, before he'd surged forward a full inch. Everything about his posture said he'd meant to strike out at me, public place or not. And so it began.
"Here, Phil?" I warned softly. "Now?"
And since most bullies are cowards, he said nothing.
This time when someone stepped up behind me, the sense of solidity and body heat belonged to Lex. So was he backing me up, or readying to help his cousin?
Either way, my bare back welcomed his nearness.
"You know," murmured Tammy into the uncomfortable silence that followed, "Perhaps I'll catch a cab home. Thank you for the invitation, Phillip, but--"
"You can't leave," protested Phil, and Tammy arched an eyebrow at him in challenge.
"Thank you, Magdalene," she said as she turned away. "It was a real pleasure to meet you."
"For three minutes?" Phil's heavy head swung back to me for one last glare before he trailed his girlfriend from the gallery. "You met her for three freakin' minutes. Tammy!"
His bodyguards trailed after them.
"I hope she'll be all right," I murmured in their absence. I'd felt jittery all evening. Not sore-throat jittery, but still.
"Phil's made mistakes." Lex took a sip of his champagne. "But he's a Stuart. There are lines even he won't cross."
I did a double take. Did he honestly believe that? Did he mean it as assurance?
Then he distracted me by sliding a hand across the small of my back and murmured, "Why do you keep doing that?"
So he'd noticed, too. Phil's wife. A nurse who stood up to a condescending doctor. A waitress who suddenly found the strength to take down a rowdy customer.
A little girl, whom I'd helped to her feet when Lex and I were jogging in the park, who finally hit her brother back. She never does that, exclaimed her surprised mother.
"And don't say, doing what," Lex continued, his voice mild but his hazel, almost golden eyes demanding.
"I'm not doing anything. Not deliberately." That would mean I had some kind of, well, magic. I didn't, sore throats aside. I wasn't sure I wanted the responsibility.
He looked particularly inscrutable.
"But maybe," I admitted, mulling it over. "Maybe the Melusine Grail is."
In a nearby display case sat a small, carved goblet of blue faience. It wasn't a goddess cup, but I turned under Lex's hand and escaped for a closer look anyway.
My name's Magdalene Sanger. I'm a professor of Comparative Mythology at Clemens College outside Stamford, Connecticut. And as it turns out, I'm descended from goddess worshippers. Long ago, when such beliefs became a burn-at-the-stake offense, women across the world hid their most sacred relics and taught their daughters and their daughters' daughters where to find them.
Grailkeepers. Like me.
Until recently, guarding the knowledge of these lost chalices had been enough. But Phil Stuart and a secret society of powerful men had gone after my family's cup. I'd rescued it--and learned the truth, which was this:
After hundreds, maybe thousands of years, mere knowledge was no longer enough.
Lex's reflection appeared in the glass case, over my shoulder. "How's an old cup that's not even here making women more--" He frowned, at a loss. "More."
"Legend says the goddess grails will increase the power of women a hundredfold," I reminded him. "And I do still have the Melusine Grail. Sure, it's hidden away for now."
He didn't ask where. I definitely didn't tell him.
"But still, I drank from it. I took the essence of, of goddessness into me. Maybe that connection is what's empowering other women, at least when I touch them."
"So you don't need to go looking for more cups?"
"Of course I do."
His ghostly image scowled. In some ways, I thought, he's more dangerous than Phil.
At least I felt certain about where Phil stood.
Even when I turned and looked at Lex straight on, I knew damned well I wasn't seeing all of him.
He breathed out his next question. "Why?"
"You know as well as I do. Because a secret society of powerful men, called the Comitatus, are after them. They destroyed the Kali Grail in New Delhi--"
"You can't know that was them."
"You're right, because they work in secret." I frowned into my champagne. "But I know some of them went after the Melusine Chalice. I know they came after me. Is there any reason I should give them the benefit of a doubt?"
Lex's mouth flattened as I kept talking.
"That's the problem with secrets," I continued. "I could have been dating a member of the Comitatus for years--hell, I could've dated one of its most powerful members--and never known it. I could have considered marrying him, and because of some stupid vow of secrecy, he would never have told me who he really was."
"I can't talk to you when you're like this." Lex's reflection turned away from mine and faded, like a ghost's.
Whether I wanted to or not, my heart lurched. I turned after him. "That's our problem. You can't talk to me."
Because that whole previous speech had been a big, fat load of sarcasm.
Turns out, Lex was one of the most powerful members of the Comitatus. From what I'd pieced together, the only reason he wasn't in charge was because a childhood illness had taken him out of the running as a leader of supposed warriors. More's the pity.
Despite our own problems--previous deceptions, and cross purposes, and scars that might or might not yet heal--I had to believe things would be different with him in charge.
I had to.
I caught up to him and put a hand on his arm, hard and fit beneath his tuxedo jacket. "I have no reason to trust them. And since you can't talk to me--"
"I can," Lex insisted. "About anything but that."
"It's a hard thing not to talk about. You must know something good about those men, something worth saving, but I haven't seen any proof of it. And now--"
Now Phil Stuart scowled at us from across the room, bodyguards instead of a date at his side. His fear of me, of what he couldn't understand, made him dangerous. I looked from him to Lex again, noting how tight Lex's jawline had gotten with the strain of his own secrets, and I consciously chose against fear.
"I trust you," I vowed softly, hopefully. "I trust that you know what you're doing, that it's something honorable and right. I've got to believe that, for both our sakes."
My voice faded, the closer his face leaned toward mine, the more intently his golden eyes focused on my lips. The nearer he came, the shorter my breath fell.
But again, not in a good way.
The last time we'd been lovers, before his attack, I'd known nothing of his involvement with the Comitatus. The truth had just about broken my heart. I did want to trust him--but maybe hearts are slower to heal than knife wounds.
He must have seen something in my eyes, in my posture. We've known each other since childhood, after all. He reads me pretty well.
Abruptly, he turned away. "I'll get us another drink."
And then I was alone in the crowd, feeling cold and foolish and more than a little frustrated--which is when I saw it.
It was another glass case, another small sculpture in blue faience, apparently the Egyptians' earthenware of choice. This one wasn't a cup but a tiny figurine, a woman on a throne with a child in her lap.
I could have looked away, if I'd wanted to. But, pulse accelerating, I could not have wanted to.
The size of the figurine, perhaps six inches, in no way matched the scope of its subject. But from the headdress, I recognized her--or should I say, Her--all the same. Isis. Goddess of Ten-Thousand Names. Oldest of the Old. Sitting there amidst relics from her ancient, half-forgotten world, nursing the tiny god Horus on her lap.
This Grailkeeper business would be so much easier if she spoke to me, even in my head--if she flat-out said Maggi, this is your next assignment. It didn't work that way of course. So far, a sore throat in the presence of danger was as tangible as the magic of the goddess got. Except....
Something vibrated against my fingertips. I nearly dropped my purse before remembering my cell phone, tucked inside it. I drew it out, saw an international exchange on its display.
I thumbed the on button. "Hello, Rhys," I said softly, and not just out of politeness for the other museum patrons. The moment felt almost holy. "Tell me you know where the Isis Grail is and I'll believe in magic."
"I do not know for certain," came the lilting Welsh voice of my friend, an archeology student at the Sorbonne who was interning with an expedition to Egypt. "But someone seems to think I do."
My sense of unease returned--and only partly because I'd just seen Lex, across the room, conversing with his cousin Phil.
"Why do you say that?" I deliberately turned my attention back to the statuette.
I trust him, I trust him, I trust him.
The tiny blue Isis wore a crooked smile, as if to say, "Gotcha."
"I say it," said Rhys, "because somebody tried to kill me today."
Book Discussion Questions:
Whether you wish to read Her Kind of Trouble as part of a discussion group, or you simply enjoy analyzing books that you read, here are some questions from the author for consideration:
1. How much did you know about the goddess Isis before reading Her Kind of Trouble? How did you know what you knew? What did you like most about the Isis legend, and what did you like least?
2. Once you know the legend of Isis and Osirus, what similarities can you see between their story and that of Maggi and Lex?
3. How was Catrina Dauvergne different in Her Kind of Trouble than she was in AKA Goddess? How was she the same? Do you think she and Maggi can ever become friends?
4. What do you suppose will happen next with Lex and Maggi? The next Grailkeeper story won't be theirs (though they will have an appearance in it). Why do you suppose that is?
5. What do you suppose will happen with the Comitatus, now that it has reached a schism between two subgroups?
6. What did you think of Maggi's decision to leave the Isis Grail from the Alexandrian Harbor in situ, instead of taking it with her?
7. SPOILER: Once you know about the original Isis Grail, from early in the story, can you recognize any places where Maggi was feeling/showing its affects without knowing that was what she felt?
8. What would you like to see in future Grailkeeper stories?