The Spice King (2019)


About the Book


Book: The Spice King

Series: Hope and Glory #1

Author: Elizabeth Camden

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release date: September 3, 2019

Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building a successful global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Tasked with gaining access to the private Delacroix plant collection, Smithsonian botanist Annabelle Larkin unwittingly steps into a web of dangerous political intrigue and will be forced to choose between her heart and her loyalty to her country.

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My Thoughts

I love novels that are not afraid to ask the BIG questions. The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden is a wonderfully engaging read. The characters are excellently crafted and delightfully endearing. The historical detail is fascinating. I learned so much about the history of processed food. Unfortunately, since the 1800s, food has been a science experiment crafted in warehouses and labs. I am blown away by what some people were, and still are, willing to call food just so they could turn a profit. What I really love about The Spice King though is how it made me wrestle with BIG ideas, specifically with the question: is it ever wrong to tell the truth?

PhotoCollage_20190720_154700982.jpgVery early on in the story, Annabelle, the heroine of The Spice King, is backed into a metaphorical corner and is sort of forced to spy on Gray Delacroix, the spice king. IF she is willing and is successful, Annabelle is told that a very lucrative job will be her reward. So she spies, finds some incriminating evidence, turns it into her military contacts, and receives her reward — a really good job with the Department of Agriculture. On the surface, Annabelle did the right thing. Treason is BAD. However, it bothered me — I mean really, really bugged me — that Annabelle spies and tells. Now, before you start to worry, NO, I am not a traitor to my country. I really do believe treason is BAD because it can lead to a lot of innocent people getting hurt. What I don’t agree with is Annabelle’s use of the truth as a weapon, which is what she does in order to personally profit. And I know this kind of truthtelling severely bothered Annabelle too because she has a brilliant Lady Macbeth moment: “All [Annabelle] could see was the splotch of old stain on the slate table before her. The stain of what she’d done … would be with her forever too.”

“But wait!” you’re saying. “I thought Jesus said in the Bible that the Truth will set you free. How can Annabelle be in the wrong?” I struggled with this as well until I really considered why we tell truths. Truth does set people free when it is told for the right reasons in the right context. I have no issue with a man or woman going through the necessary training to become an actual spy, taking on an actual mission, finding real intel on an enemy, and then relaying that information to the proper authorities. The general goal and heart of the person, in this case, is to keep others safe. My issue with Annabelle is her motivation. Annabelle does not spy to save lives. She does it to receive personal compensation. When I teach others the Truth of Jesus if my heart is in it for me and what I can earn, my truthtelling is wrong. But when I teach others about Jesus because I genuinely love them and want a soul change for them, my truthtelling is righteous. When Annabelle tells the truth she discovers it causes her to feel anxiety, pain, and heartache because she is selfish in her motivations. This really forced me to analyze my heart. What are my motivations behind my actions, words, and beliefs? Am I doing and saying the right things but for the wrong reasons? Or am I right on track?

I love, and highly recommend, The Spice King for many reasons, but the fantastic lesson on truthtelling that is weaved throughout the narrative makes this book an absolute must-read! The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden releases on September 3, 2019. I implore you to pre-order yourself a copy of this book today. I promise you will NOT want to miss out on this book.

I received a copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Bethany House Publishers, via NetGalley in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

13 thoughts on “The Spice King (2019)

  1. I just recently reviewed this one thru netgalley, too, and really liked it! I agree with your review in the main, except that Annabelle DID spy to save lives. There are several mentions of it, including a signal moment when she looks at her supervisor’s desk picture of his son who was in the military, & it puts a real face to the thousands of soldiers whose lives would potentially be lost.

    The job was offered in an effort to sweeten the truly awful position they were forcing her into – choosing between the man she was falling in love with & the lives of her countrymen. If she didn’t spy on Gray, doubt would shadow their relationship. If she didn’t do so, AND he turned out to be a traitor, she’d not only be permanently out of a job with the govt, but even potentially at risk of being deemed an accessory either by law or public opinion. The best she could hope for would be to find nothing incriminating & thereby clear suspicion against Gray; instead, she got just one step removed from the worst case scenario, poor thing.

    I believe that where Annabelle was very much in the wrong was in trying to continue to deceive Gray AFTER it’s determined to be his brother. She should have let him know what happened and why. By not saying anything, she made her motives look mercenary to Gray. And as much as I loved the story & was glad to see them reconcile, I’m not sure it could happen. I can see a real life Gray forgiving her, but I’m not completely convinced that he would be able to resume a relationship with her over something that may well result in his brother’s death. It’s tough, but it feels wrong somehow.

    So I struggled over that, but Camden is such a good writer that I loved the story anyway. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your point of view and didn’t consider how you saw Annabelle’s mission. Thank you for sharing. I do agree with you on when Annabelle goes wrong. Hiding the truth from Gray, but acting like everything was ok, is another area I struggled with her character. Honestly she felt immature to me. She’s trying to be a big girl, but she’s not quite there yet. And, I did struggle with them ending up together in the end. I’m not sure that’s realistic. Thank you so much for sharing your view! 🙂


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