Gray, Juliana. A Most Extraordinary Pursuit. New York: Berkley Books, 2016. ISBN-13: 978-0-425-27707-2. Print List Price: $15.00.
This was a book that I was unsure if I wanted to read at all. I had liked some of her previous Juliana Gray historicals, so I was a bit taken aback to hear that she was one of several authors who was changing genres. And when I picked it up to attempt to read it the first time, and found not only that it was written in first person (something I associate more with her Beatriz Williams persona), but that it felt more like one of her BW books but with characters from the Juliana Gray world (not to mention that the prequel novella saw one of her JG characters marry a widow of one of the members of BW’s famous Schuyler family), and her books have always been very much hit-or-miss with me.
But with the upcoming sequel coming out, I decided to give it another shot, and found that while I didn’t absolutely love it, it has its charms. Emmeline is an unusual heroine, very much a study of contrasts between the values of the departing Victorian era and the new modern age. She is in a traditionally male position as a duke’s secretary, but she still has traditional views as well.
The book seems to suggest the possibility that a romance could develop between Emmeline and Freddie, Lord Silverton. However, it took me a long time to like him at all, and I don’t think romance between them can happen at the moment, as it is made clear that he is something of a rake, who won’t be able to remain faithful. Although, having previously met him as a teenager in How to Tame Your Duke, it was nice to see how he turned out and to have something of an update on his father and stepmother.
I am much more hopeful of the possibility of a romance developing between Emmeline and Max Haywood, who becomes the new Duke of Olympia in this book. Even though he doesn’t show up until late in the book, I was charmed by the idea of a scholarly hero, and he is definitely an intriguing character, who I anticipate will feature more prominently in the sequel.