"Indiana Jones meets Lara Croft" in this debut and engrossing action thriller with the fate of the world in one person's hands (RT Book Reviews).
Frustrated suffragette and would-be archaeologist Ellie Mallory stumbles across a map to a city that shouldn't exist, a jungle metropolis alive and flourishing centuries after the Mayan civilization mysteriously collapsed. Discovering it would make her career, but Ellie isn't the only one after the prize. A disgraced professor and his ruthless handler are hot on her heels, willing to go any extreme to acquire the map for themselves.
To race them through the uncharted jungle, Ellie needs a guide. The only one with the expertise is maverick surveyor Adam Bates. But with his determination to nose his way into Ellie's many secrets, Bates is a dangerous partner.
As Ellie gets closer to her goal, she realizes it's not just her ambitions at stake. A powerful secret lies hidden in the heart of the city - and if it falls into the wrong hands, it could shake the very fate of the world.
Romance readers will best appreciate Benson's first novel, an adventure thriller set in 1898. Archivist Ellie Mallory loses her job at London's Public Records Office after she's arrested for her suffragette activities. Before Ellie leaves her office, she pockets a hollowed-out psalter that contains a medallion bearing the image of a grinning idol as well as a map purporting to provide the location of El Dorado. Her appropriation of the psalter sets two villains on her trail. Her pursuers follow Ellie to Belize City, where she's rescued by the rakish Adam Bates, with whom she teams to search for the map's secrets. Hitherto an independent heroine, she now becomes a damsel in distress. Amid perils straight out of an Indiana Jones movie, Ellie can't help noticing Adam's physical attributes ("The hard, wet planes of his body were only a breath away from her own, radiating heat and solid, barely concealed strength").
As enthralling a page-turner as this grumpy short fiction devotee has ever read. Surprised me numerous times by turning where I thought it might twist, and so on. A must-read for adventure lovers, people who like the theory of a good romance but dislike the tropes, and for anyone else. Just read it already!