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REVIEW: Samburu Hills by Jennifer Mueller

Dear Mrs Mueller,

big_mueller-shills.jpgI don’t think any of your stories has been less than a B grade for me and “Samburu Hills” continues that tradition. The unusual settings and eras you choose for your books are heavenly for me. My blogging partner Janine once said if there were a romance set in Timbuktu, I’d be the one to read it and I think you’d probably be the author to write it.

When Celeste Reed steps off the boat in the fledgling colony of Kenya, East Africa she finds out the man that she was to marry doesn’t even care to get to know her let alone listen to a word she says. Life is miserable and then he has the nerve to die leaving her to run an estate without any money. It seems he spent all he had to impress the colony and she was just part of the package. Africa is unforgiving to the weak, but it can be the people that you least expect that make it.

And then there’s Edward.

Recently I watched the PBS miniseries “Heat of the Sun” set in 1930s Kenya and it jogged my memory that this book had been released. Your time frame is a little earlier than that but I imagine the type of characters hanging around in Nairobi were about the same: decadent, up to no good, and thoroughly snobbish. As if Celeste wasn’t up against enough trying to get her Kenyan ranch to break even against all odds, she has to deal with this lot whenever she ventures into the nearest town, two travel days away, to sell the crops, cattle and whatnot. I love Celeste, she’s so practical and down to earth. She’s a straight talker and straight shooter (love the scene when she tells her no-good husband off with the help of a shotgun), a hard worker and someone who finally gets a chance at a HEA after so many years of loneliness. The secondary characters were colorful and well used. I do have a question though. How could Celeste’s husband, the ninth child of a Marquess, be a Lord in his own right?

This book might look short but so much is told so economically. You can tell more with less words than most authors I’ve read, as if you’re paring a story down to its lovely, compact bones. The vivid descriptions of Kenya and her people put me right there. B+ for “Samburu Hills.”


Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Janine
    Jul 07, 2007 @ 10:02:36

    You mean you haven’t read a romance set in Timbuktu yet? Drat! I hope Ms. Mueller hurries up and writes one. ;-) Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone else who has read romances so diversely in terms of setting as you do, Jayne. It’s one of several reasons why I look forward to your reviews.

    Samburu Hills looks really interesting and I liked the excerpt that you linked to as well. In the excerpt, Mueller has a nice writing style. I will have to remember to get this one when I get my faster computer back and can download e-books in a reasonable time frame.

  2. sherry thomas
    Jul 07, 2007 @ 19:09:46

    Hi, Jayne,

    Any younger son of a marquess is referred to as Lord Firstname Lastname, most often Lord Firstname in conversation and in greeting. It’s just an honorific. Dude is not a real lordship, and it’s not a courtesy title. But he’s still known as Lord John Smith.

    I think this applies to younger sons of marquesses and dukes. Once you go down to an earl, his younger son is just an Honorable Mr. Givenname Familyname.

  3. Jayne
    Jul 08, 2007 @ 04:15:04

    Exactly Sherry. But mention is made that Celeste’s husband is a “lord in his own right” which I assumed to mean that he had some title of his own and could therefore pass it down to their son (mention is also made that the son is now a Lord). I wondered if maybe some of the colonists of later British colonies (after America) had been given titles by the Crown. I hadn’t thought this was the case and was confused when the Lord title of the son was briefly mentioned in this story.

  4. Jayne
    Jul 08, 2007 @ 04:17:31

    Janine, I’ve not seen any Timbuktu novels yet. I remain ever hopeful.

  5. sherry thomas
    Jul 08, 2007 @ 05:43:14

    Lol, Jayne,

    And here I displayed all my erudition for nothing. I feel like I tried to teach Martha Stewart housekeeping. :-)

    And if Timbuktu is such a longed-for setting, heck I’m looking for an out-of-the-way place for a cholera outbreak or some such to set my reverse-Painted-Veil story. Maybe I’ll google it. :-)

  6. Jayne
    Jul 08, 2007 @ 10:06:16

    Sherry, I’m always trying to learn more so teach away. Wow, a cholera epidemic in Timbuktu – be still my heart!

  7. Dear Author’s Best of 2007 Ebook List | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 06:28:50

    […] Samburu Hills by Jennifer Mueller (Arranged marriage story set in Edwardian period) […]

  8. Jennifer Mueller
    Dec 27, 2008 @ 21:34:14

    Hi Jayne, just an update, Samburu Hills will be rereleased January 18th at Red Rose Publishing.

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