Uncharted – Robyn Nyx

This is the third archaeologist/tomb raider lesfic story I’ve read in less than four months. Granted, the first two are part of the same series but still, that’s a lot compared to how many I had read before, which, if I’m not mistaken, is zero.

The good news is, they’re very different. Not so much the premise – a serious archaeologist, devoted to History and a greedy sexy slightly obnoxious tomb raider – but the tone, the way the story goes, the writing… This is my second book by Robyn Nyx, and while the first one, Never Enough, was really good, it was way too violent for me to really enjoy. This one, though, was much more to my liking.

Chase Stinsen is earnest and determined to unearth the past so everyone can learn from it. For Rayne Marcellus, hidden treasures are meant to be sold. Ten years before Uncharted starts, Chase and Rayne were friends and working together, until Rayne betrayed her partner in favour of a different lifestyle, involving loads of money. But a close encounter with death on a Syrian site encourages Rayne to rethink her priorities and her feelings for Chase. When she’s asked to go after the legendary Mayan Golden Trilogy, she enlists Chase’s reluctant help.

At first sight, both main characters might seem a little cliché, with the serious butch archaeologist on the one hand and the callous femme antiquities finder on the other, but they’re more complex than that. Rayne’s apparent casualness stems from an unloving and exacting childhood and the need to constantly prove herself, to be enough, to be more. Her character growth over the course of the book is remarkable, all the more so as it has begun before she realises it. Chase, on the other hand, doesn’t evolve as obviously but she allows her self-confidence to show more and more, and takes matters in her own hands, both professionally and personally.

While Kaplan’s Easy Nevada series is outlandish and adrenaline-fueled, Nyx’s Uncharted is much more grounded. Not to say it’s not exciting (it is!) but it feels less like a silly but fun adventure and more like the real thing. There’s just enough technical talk to make the characters sound like they really are the experts they’re supposed to be, but not enough to turn the story into a lesson on Mayan mythology.

Nyx did a wonderful job describing the conditions in which the protagonists hunt for the treasure, whether it’s the places, the weather, the ever-present insects… The very first scene takes place in the Paris catacombs and from the first page, Nyx throws the reader in the heart of things. The sounds, the smells, we’re with Chase, not just watching her.

Locating the crux of the story in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest also allows the author to reflect on the logging business – both legal and illegal –, the impact on local populations and on the planet as a whole. Once again, it could have been tedious but it’s not at all, it flows, just part of the story.

The pace is excellent and the secondary characters are as layered as the MCs. I especially love the former military twins with opposite personalities but the same loyalty to Rayne. In a world of greed and callousness, where betrayals abound, that kind of loyalty is just as precious as any treasure and another testament to who Rayne really is beneath the surface.

4-stars

Uncharted @ Bold Strokes Books

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