Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Raiders of the Lost Heart by Jo Segura
Published by Berkley on December 5, 2023
Amazon, Audible, Libro.fm, Barnes & Noble, Apple
Archaeologist Dr. Socorro “Corrie” Mejía has a bone to pick. Literally.
It’s been Corrie’s life goal to lead an expedition deep into the Mexican jungle in search of the long-lost remains of her ancestor, Chimalli, an ancient warrior of the Aztec empire. But when she is invited to join an all-expenses-paid dig to do just that, Corrie is sure it’s too good to be true...and she’s right.
As the world-renowned expert on Chimalli, by rights Corrie should be leading the expedition, not sharing the glory with her disgustingly handsome nemesis. But Dr. Ford Matthews has been finding new ways to best her since they were in grad school. Ford certainly isn’t thrilled either—with his life in shambles, the last thing he needs is a reminder of their rocky past.
But as the dig begins, it becomes clear they’ll need to work together when they realize a thief is lurking around their campsite, forcing the pair to keep their discoveries—and lingering attraction—under wraps. With money-hungry artifact smugglers, the Mexican authorities, and the lies between them closing in, there’s only one way this all ends—explosively.
An adventure romance with strong winks at all the big adventure romance movies? You betcha I was going to snag this up. The promise of a heroine of Aztec descent, a rush to recover the artifacts, and a firecracker of a romance from a new to me author ratcheted up the pre-read excitement.
Raiders of the Lost Heart did indeed play to a few classic adventure romance movie strengths, had a solid historical backdrop for the artifact hunt, delved into the struggle women in the archeological field face to get ahead, a woman confident in her sexuality, and gave an interesting cultural background for the heroine.
But, I ended up with mixed feelings because there were all those wonderful things I mentioned previously, but I had some issues with the romance and behavior at times of the romantic pair. If their antagonism had been about him getting her job and then now needing her to save his bacon, that would have worked as an enemies to lovers conflict for me, but that extra grudge she had about him blowing up a past relationship made no sense since a few dates and a kiss don’t make a relationship to me. Ford’s ‘why me’ attitude when he had breaks that Corrie didn’t get made it tough for me to sympathize with him. Then there was the trite romance dialogue once they did start to iron out their differences that left me flat. Things picked up in the romance when the action element finally kicked in and I must say these two were sizzling with the sexy times.
As to the adventure element, I was somewhat disappointed. I confess this is partly because of my own anticipation. About two-thirds of the book was mostly contemporary romance set in jungle and then turned into action at the very end. I was thinking the action would get going much earlier. Corrie pulled a couple dumb moves that created action when she needed rescuing, but the last part of the book was admittedly thrilling and made for a fab finish that left me hoping more adventures would come along for Drs. Mejia and Matthews.
I enjoyed the author’s note that delighted me with explanation of what was fiction and what was fact since I do love learning about archeological discoveries and how they advance our historical knowledge.
And, so, while it may seem I was very disappointed, this was not the case. I think if one anticipates going in that the romance struggles and hashing out personal issues are the main focus at the start and the action adventure side will be low key and not kick into high until later then this will be a more satisfying read. Once again, kudos for giving readers a heroine, ethnically diverse, representing a woman academic, tough and capable in an exciting jungle adventure. Adventure romance fans will also get a kick out of spotting iconic movie nods and likely find Raiders of the Heart worth tracking down.
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