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Cover image for A spear of summer grass
A spear of summer grass


Don Mills, Ontario : Harlequin Mira, [2013]
Physical Description:
370 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
Includes questions for discussion.
Exiled to Kenya after her latest scandalous exploit, Delilah Drummond, now the mistress of her step-father's crumbling estate, falls into the decadent pleasures of society until she meets Ryder White who becomes her guide to the beauty of this complex world. Set in 1920s British Kenya.


Call Number
Raybourn, D.

On Order



Paris, 1923

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even among Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather's savanna manor house until gossip subsides.

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming--yet fleeting and often cheap.

Amidst the wonders--and dangers--of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for--and what she can no longer live without.

Author Notes

Deanna Raybourn grew up in San Antonio, Texas. At the age of 23 she wrote her first novel. She married her college sweetheart and after the birth of their fist child she left teaching to become a mom and full-time writer. Her debut novel, Silent in the Grave, was published in January 2007. It is the first in the Lady Julia Grey Mystery series. Silent in the Grave won the 2008 RITA Award for Novel with Strong Romantic Elements. The Lady Julia Grey series has been nominated for several other awards, including an Agatha, a Daphne du Maurier, a Last Laugh, and two Dilys Winns. Raybourn lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bestselling author Raybourn's latest (after The Dark Enquiry), set in 1920's Kenya, finds plucky, party-loving American divorcee Delilah Drummond about to be shunned from Parisian social life when her husband kills himself after receiving her divorce papers. With Delilah's team of advisors insisting she seek refuge while the story cools off, she reluctantly agrees to an African excursion with her plodding cousin Dora as chaperone. Even on another continent, Delilah's reputation precedes her, yet she harbors more heartbreak and depth than is evident from her actions. With her unflappable veneer in place, Delilah meets Ryder White, an intriguing, maddening man who challenges her bravado. Despite her initial dismay at her exile, Delilah finds her nursing experience helpful to the local Kikuyu, which brings her life the purpose it had been missing. As Delilah adjusts to her exotic new landscape, she finds more than she expected, both in the people she meets and within herself. Rayburn's breezy, straightforward style is a nice counterpoint to the complexity of her heroine. Agent: Pam Hopkins, Hopkins Literary Associates. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Part romance, part travelogue, part murder mystery, featuring characters whose paths cross in the wilds of Africa. The story revolves around Delilah Drummond, a vain and promiscuous young woman whose behavior has caught the attention of the media and embarrassed her grandfather, a wealthy landowner in Louisiana who extends a generous allowance to Delilah and her mother, Mossy, the woman Delilah has emulated. Mother and daughter meet in Paris after Delilah's latest husband commits suicide before their divorce is finalized. One of his cousins has filed suit against Delilah for the family jewels. It is Delilah's greedy and callous response that has inspired the media attention. Delilah's mother and one of Delilah's ex-stepfathers, Nigel, as well as one of her own ex-husbands (now her friend and attorney), advise her to maintain a lower profile and suggest she spend some time in Africa on Nigel's estate. Once in Africa, Delilah meets an old friend, an artist with whom she will have an affair, and the fascinating Ryder White, with whom she will fall in love. Delilah also meets the neighboring wealthy white landowners, as well as many poor natives. Africa transforms Delilah in ways she could never imagine. An exotic journey of redemption.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

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.--Henshaw, Pat Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal Review

It's 1923, and Delilah Drummond is a modern woman who doesn't mind a little scandal, but the questionable circumstances of her soon-to-be ex-husband are better avoided. Sent by family to Kenya as a distraction, she finds this vast new world is perfectly suited to her particular habits and abilities. Strangely, it's the people, not the unfamiliar animals, who are the troublesome creatures, including the dashing Ryder White. Longtime fans prepare your happy dance, then make room for a legion of new followers as word of Raybourn's (The Dark Enquiry; Dark Road to Darjeeling) completely satisfying new stand-alone historical spreads. Characters with deeply interior flaws rising slowly to the surface and an exotic setting that creates its own sense of drama will make readers want to savor each page while desperately needing to know what happens next. Cultural details of the European community in Africa and the Creole community of New Orleans overlap in unexpected ways, meshing unexpectedly with lore of the Masai in Kenya. VERDICT From sweetly touching moments requiring tissues to hot-blooded hunts for prey of both two and four-legged varieties, this book elicits the widest range of emotions, and does it with style.-Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., OH (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.