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A Spear of Summer Grass Paperback – April 30, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin MIRA; Original edition (April 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0778314391
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778314394
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Raybourn (The Dark Enquiry, 2011) presents a sweeping romance set in 1920s British Kenya. After one escapade too many, notorious socialite Delilah Drummond is exiled from Europe to her former stepfather’s estate. When she arrives there with her cousin Dora, they find everything in shambles. With the help of native workers, they slowly restore the estate to an acceptable standard of British comfort. At first, the white community embraces her, from artist Kit to safari guide Ryder and everyone in between. Although she is content to become Kit’s lover, her heart grows closer and closer to Ryder as he gives her practical advice about survival and shows her the beauty of Africa. When Kit is murdered, however, the white community is in upheaval, and Delilah is heavily involved. The book’s title, taken from poet Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” embodies Raybourn’s central themes of self-sufficiency and oneness with nature. Delilah can’t come to terms with the beauty and brutality of Kenya, its people, or Ryder until she comes to terms with herself. --Pat Henshaw


"With a strong and unique voice, Deanna Raybourn creates unforgettable characters in a richly detailed world. This is storytelling at its most compelling."
-Nora Roberts, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"[A] perfectly executed debut...Deft historical detailing [and] sparkling first-person narration."
-Publishers Weekly starred review on Silent in the Grave

"A riveting drama that makes page turning obligatory. A very fine debut effort from Deanna Raybourn."
-Bookreporter.com on Silent in the Grave

"A sassy heroine and a masterful, secretive hero. Fans of romantic mystery could ask no more-except the promised sequel."
-Kirkus Reviews on Silent in the Grave

"This debut novel has one of the most clever endings I've seen."
-Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author on Silent in the Grave

"Deceptively civilized and proper, Silent in the Grave has undercurrents of nefarious deeds, secrets and, my favorite, poisons. An excellent debut novel."
-Maria V. Snyder, author of Poison Study on Silent in the Grave

"There are some lovely twists in the plot and a most satisfactory surprise ending. I hope to read more from Deanna Raybourn in time to come."
-Valerie Anand, author of The Siren Queen, written under the name of Fiona Buckley, on Silent in the Grave

"Fans and new readers alike will welcome this sparkling sequel to Raybourn's debut Victorian mystery, Silent in the Grave...the complex mystery, a delightfully odd collection of characters and deft period details produce a rich and funny read."
-Publishers Weekly on Silent in the Sanctuary

"Raybourn skillfully balances humor and earnest, deadly drama, creating well-drawn characters and a rich setting."
-Publishers Weekly on Dark Road to Darjeeling

"Beyond the development of Julia's detailed world, her boisterous family and dashing husband, this book provides a clever mystery and unique perspective on the Victorian era through the eyes of an unconventional lady."
-Library Journal on The Dark Enquiry

More About the Author

A sixth-generation native Texan, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn grew up in San Antonio, where she met her college sweetheart. She married him on her graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history. During summer vacation at the age of twenty-three, she wrote her first novel. After three years as a teacher, Deanna left education to have a baby and pursue writing full-time. Fourteen years and many, many rejections after her first novel, she signed two three-book deals with MIRA Books.

"Sex, lies and awesome clothing descriptions" is how one reader described Deanna's debut novel, SILENT IN THE GRAVE, published in January 2007. The first in the Silent series, the book follows Lady Julia Grey as she investigates the mysterious death of her husband with the help of the enigmatic private inquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane. From the drawing rooms of the aristocracy to a Gypsy camp on Hampstead Heath, Silent in the Grave deftly captures the lush ambience of Victorian London.

The series continues with the second book, SILENT IN THE SANCTUARY (January 2008), a classic English country house murder mystery with a few twists and turns for Brisbane and Lady Julia along the way. Silent on the Moor (March 2009), set in a grim manor house on the Yorkshire moors, is the third adventure for Lady Julia and the mysterious Brisbane.

March 2010 saw a departure from the series with the release of THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST, a mid-Victorian Gothic thriller that chronicles the adventures of novelist Theodora Lestrange as she leaves the safety and security of her Edinburgh home for the dark woods and haunted castles of Transylvania. Deanna takes Lady Julia and her companions to the exotic foothills of the Himalayas with DARK ROAD TO DARJEELING (October 2010). The fifth book in the series, THE DARK ENQUIRY, sees the return of Lady Julia and Brisbane to London for their most puzzling adventure--one that strikes painfully close to home.

Deanna plots her books from her home in Virginia. After one too many hot Texas summers, Deanna and her husband packed up their daughter and moved to the mid-Atlantic state, where they enjoy the fall leaves but deeply miss good Tex-Mex cooking.

Still Virginia has been good to this author. Deanna's novel SILENT IN THE GRAVE won the 2008 RITA® Award for Novel with Strong Romantic Elements and the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for Best First Mystery. The Lady Julia Grey series has been nominated for several other awards, including an Agatha, three Daphne du Mauriers, a Last Laugh, a total of five RITAs, and two Dilys Winns. Her fourth Lady Julia novel, DARK ROAD TO DARJEELING, was a finalist for the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Historical Mystery, and her fifth Lady Julia release, THE DARK ENQUIRY, was a New York Times bestseller.

Lady Julia's holiday adventure, SILENT NIGHT, a digital novella, will be available November 1, 2012, while her next stand-alone novel, A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS, debuts May 1, 2013. Set in Africa in 1923, A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS follows the daring flapper heiress Delilah Drummond as she travels to Africa in disgrace only to find the adventure of a lifetime.

You can find her blogging three days a week at www.deannaraybourn.com/blog, and be sure to sign up for her newsletter, check out her contests and book trailer videos, and catch her latest appearances at www.deannaraybourn.com.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By S. Mahnken on April 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
I've enjoyed reading Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey series of romantic mysteries, although I felt that the last few books in the series didn't quite live up to the earlier ones. So I was looking forward to reading her new stand-alone novel and was very happy to receive a copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a review.

A Spear of Summer Grass is the story of Delilah Drummond, part of the generation of "bright young things" who, scarred by the first World War, live a fiercely modern and shocking lifestyle of parties, drink, and sex. When Delilah becomes involved in scandal after the suicide of her third husband, her family exiles her from the fashionable world. She chooses to go to her stepfather's estate in the British colony in Kenya. The expats who live there are just as jaded as their counterparts in Europe, though, and Delilah finds scandal waiting for her. She also finds Ryder White, a man who might finally help her lay to rest her first husband, who was killed in the war.

I liked this novel a lot, so much so that I stayed up way too late reading because I had to finish it. I highly recommend A Spear of Summer Grass if you're interested in the 1920s. I'm a fan of novels set in the post-World War I era; it's a fascinating period, with people grappling with the fallout from the war and the feeling that they lived in a changed world, a new modern era. Delilah has a somewhat caustic personality and is sometimes not very likeable, but I think she is a good representation of some of the members of the "Lost Generation."

The depiction of colonial Kenya is also well done, if somewhat problematic. Raybourn is writing a romance between a man and a woman--Ryder and Delilah--but she's also writing a love story featuring the African continent.
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42 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Angela Thompson VINE VOICE on April 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
Have you ever seen Out of Africa? It's this old Sydney Pollack film starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, and it is sort of loosely based on Isak Dinesen's (pseudonym of Danish author Karen Blixen) autobiographical book of the same name. It (and its soundtrack) was a staple in my house growing up, and when I first read the brief synopsis for Deanna Raybourn's latest standalone novel, A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS, it was literally the first thing that popped into my mind. They just sounded fairly similar what with the same setting, though the time period is a good decade later in Raybourn's novel than in Pollack's film. Since I have fond memories of the movie as a girl, this only upped my eagerness to read the book. I get all excited when an author I love changes things up on her readers. I am a devoted fan of Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey Victorian mystery series and I thoroughly enjoyed her standalone Gothic novel, The Dead Travel Fast. As far as I was concerned 1920s Africa complete with a British/American flapper fish out of water could only spell bliss.

Delilah Drummond is a household name among the London and Paris socialite sets. Daughter of an infamous society wife in her own right, Delilah has worked her way through a few marriages of her own. Unfortunately, the latest crashed and burned so luridly that her mother and current stepfather have called Delilah home for a little Come to Jesus. In fact, they're packing her off to Kenya so she can cool her heels a bit while the scandal back home runs its course.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Suncoast TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Once in a while I come across a memorable book - "A Spear of Summer Grass" by Deanna Raybourn is one of the best books I have read this year.

In a few pages Raybourn conjures up a wonderful picture of the environment and social atmosphere of colonial East Africa just after WWI. This is a different type of love story -it is about love of East Africa and love between Ryder and Delilah. The central theme that makes this book so memorable is how Delilah tries not to fall in love with life in that part of Africa.

The (currently free) prequel - Far In The Wilds - introduces us to Ryder White, brought up in the wilds of the Canadian Yukon who is more at home in the wilds of the African bush and chasing the charms of lonely married women than being part of the pleasure-seeking white colonists of Kenyan society. He is a bit like Robert Redford in "Out of Africa".

"Spear in the Summer Grass" introduces us to Delilah Drummond, from an unconventional Creole family from the US South who has been brought up in both the US South and Europe by her similarly unconventional mother. After losing her first husband in WWI Delilah becomes a notorious and emancipated woman with several ex-husbands. She is encouraged to move to Africa for a spell to escape her latest marital and legal problems after her last husband commits suicide.

Delilah is a complex character who at first sight seems to be a spoilt, rich socialite. In Africa she shows that she is an independent, emancipated, smart, strong willed, brave, kind and sensitive person who can face up to the dangers and challenges of Africa.
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