Nefertiti’s Heart (The Artifact Hunters book 1) by A. W. Exley


My Thoughts:

TW: If you can’t read about difficult and disturbing subjects, and/or don’t like romance, and/or can’t read about murder, and/or can’t read about sex, then this book is not for you.

There are some difficult topics in this book, particularly surrounding the main female protagonist Cara. In her childhood years she suffers abuse and extreme trauma (underage non-consensual sex, rape.) However, A. W. Exley only mentions this in passing as part of Cara’s past. Also, Cara’s deceased father was violent and abusive (not in a sexual way), this again is mentioned in passing as part of Cara’s past. So if you’re feeling uncomfortable already then I recommend that you don’t read this book.

If you’re like me and don’t like, but can accept the disturbing/distressing elements of this story, and enjoy reading consensual romantic partnerships, then you’ll love this book. However, I wouldn’t classify Nefertiti’s Heart as an erotica by any stretch, so if you’re looking for that, you’ll need to look somewhere else.

Now that’s been dealt with, Nefertiti’s Heart is a Victorian, Steampunk, Historical, Mystery, Thriller and Romance novel. Yes this book really does have elements from all of these genres, which definitely makes it more interesting if you ask me. On top of that, A. W. Exley knows how to write, there were many humorous moments between characters and witty conversations. A book that makes you laugh is without a doubt a good book.

Nefetiti’s Heart follows Cara as she returns to her father’s home in London, after he mysteriously passes away. She has no love for her father or the house, and her only mission is to sell the priceless artefacts her father adored. Unfortunately the artefacts have been hidden and Cara’s father has left clues to their whereabouts in a little notebook. Cara finds her father’s notebook, but the main male protagonist, Viscount Nathaniel Lyons (Nate), sends men to steal the notebook from her. However, Cara is as tough as nails, and Nate’s men end up failing in their task. Nate has no choice but to approach Cara himself, and a somewhat awkward but budding relationship forms between the pair. Cara agrees to let Nate sell her father’s artefacts and keep a percentage of the sale for himself. However, when noble girl’s bodies start appearing, Detective Fraser believes that Cara and/or Nate may be involved. The killer is obsessive, and leaves mysterious keys, driven into the hearts of their victims, and Cara unknowingly has something that the Killer is after. Nefertiti’s Heart is full of mystery and suspense, who can Cara really trust? She isn’t so sure.

Nefetiti’s Heart is told from several view points, but the story is mainly told from Cara’s POV. Major and minor characters are all well defined and well written. I particularly enjoyed the minor characters, Cara’s Grandmother and Countess de Sal, they both added some much needed humour to counteract the darker elements of this story.

Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is a mysterious character. You get the impression that he has seen his fair share of brutality, and there are definitely secrets to be revealed where this character is concerned, though I think these will be revealed in later books. Nate seems a little cold and reserved at first, but he quickly warms to Cara. He is very cool and confident, and sometimes a little over domineering, and I still think he is hiding something dark, I just don’t know what it is!

Cara is a tough tomboy on the outside, she doesn’t like dresses, she knows how to fight and she owns guns, but inside she is reserved and caring. She is a welcome bad-ass heroine, but she also has a softer and more vulnerable side too. Due to her past she has learnt how to be strong, but her past still affects her emotionally. Her romance with Nate is strange but also very sweet, she clearly falls for him but her initial reaction is to run away and hide. It isn’t a smooth romance by any means with so many conflicting emotions all over the place. However Nate and Cara are perfect for each other.

I really liked this book. I don’t read a lot of steampunk so it was a good change to my usual, though in reality there wasn’t a lot of steampunk elements in this book. However, I loved the mechanical horses and I agree with Cara, they should be unicorns.

Nefertiti’s Heart is a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable read, I recommend this to anyone who can stomach the darker elements, and enjoys historical romances with a bit of thriller and Egyptian-style mystery.

From The Current Reviews:

The Good: Nefertiti’s Heart is a steampunk adventure, a murder mystery, and a love story all packed into a non-stop, action filled, riveting plot. Wondrously witty characters are just icing on the cake for this imaginative tale.’, ‘a delicious mix of historical romance, mystery and steampunk with an ever so slight sprinkle of fantasy‘, ‘The actual plot is really entertaining as well, laced with suspense and wonderful details‘, ‘Cara was an amazing character, right from the get go I was dying to know what her story was‘, ‘The mystery. . .amazing. I was constantly thinking I had it figured out only to start waffling back and forth again‘, ‘excellent steampunk adventure‘, ‘ it’s basically a Regency romance? My favorite type of historical romance.‘, ‘Choke-full of mystery, dark deeds, sensuality and arcane antiques’, ‘an awesome read‘, ‘ass- kicking heroine who put everyone in their place, but still had a vulnerable and girly side- as well as a humorous and shy side‘, ‘Romance, adventure, a kickbutt heroine, a rake of a leading man who is more noble than the Nobles, and wit, I loved this story‘, ‘The murder mystery aspect of the plot was excellent’, ‘incredible’, ‘absolutely brilliant’, ‘This story is simultaneously equal parts bizarre, hilarious, sexy and devilishly daring’, ‘very original and riveting‘, ‘a heart throbbing romance, and mystery‘, ‘delightfully different’, ‘Countess de Sal is one of the best characters in the book and the depiction of tertiary syphilis and the cures of the time were authentic and made me feel compassion for the Countess.’

The Bad: I found this book to be quite ridiculous but I guess that it’s just because of the steamy romance factor. If you like romance you will probably enjoy Nefertiti’s Heart.’, ‘Not my cup of tea, but really great steampunk.‘, ‘the story had promise, but I just didn’t like the way it was executed‘, ‘Writing style was not too impressive. A bit abrupt.‘, ‘The plot was was serviceable as I was reading but pretty forgettable afterwards’, ‘The writing is superb and the plot flows smooth. Overall, this seems like it would be a highly enjoyable read if you can ignore the problems with the setting‘, ‘The concept sounded intriguing but as soon as the first male character came on the scene the author lost me‘, ‘mediocre and grim‘, ‘The key problem for me was the increasingly graphic nature of the romantic elements of the story’, ‘ It could have been good, with less porn and less description of what people were wearing, and maybe more story‘, ‘There is graphic sex in the book which I could have done without‘, ‘ main heroine also seemed flat and too perfect‘, ‘the book soon became too much of a bodice ripper for my taste‘, ‘It was interesting but very difficult to read‘, ‘Okay read – but full of triggers for folks with physical/sexual abuse in their past’.

The Darn Right Ugly: This story and the characters in it were so flat and cliched that reading through the book was literally a chore‘, ‘Her abuse as a child is used as a plot device with seemingly little regard for the experiences of readers or even of the character herself.‘, ‘This book couldn’t decide whether to be smut or comedy or adventure, and was boring to top it off. If I could return it, I would’.

The Unicorns:This is a fun romp through a Victorian-era London, with the steampunk technological twist. Likable characters, an intriguing mystery, and a vividly described (and brought to life) world made this a 5 star for me.‘, ‘I was insatiable in reading Nefertiti’s Heart! This was only my second steam punk book and this book is downright amazing.‘, ‘The only reason I put this book down is because I couldn’t keep my eyes open‘, ‘This book in a way amazed me because of the language used. I felt like the author didn’t just use the first word that came into head but searched for the perfect words to describe something.‘, ‘A.W. Exley is a brilliant writer who will keep you on your toes and keep you wanting more!’, ‘I am not sure if words can express the amount of adoration I have for this book. Nefertiti’s heart had Everything I love tucked neatly between its pages.’

This Book Has Been Compared/Likened To:

Video Game: Amnesia, The Dark Descent. Author: Mary Higgins Clark. Book: Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster. Book: Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett. Sherlock Holmes. Book: The Iron Duke by
Meljean Brook. Book: Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker.

Amazon Kindle Rating: 4.2 stars (4.2 Stars)

Goodreads Rating: 3. 87stars (3.87 Stars)

Release date: 11th Feb 2013

Pages: 286

Age Range: 16+

Contains: Explicit violence, details of underage sexual abuse and rape, also contains mild descriptions of sexual scenes.

Genres: Science Fiction/ Fantasy/ Steampunk/ Historical Fiction/ Romance/ Mystery/ Adult.

Awards: Kindle Book Award for Sci-Fi/Fantasy (2014), Winner Readers Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy BTS Red Carpet Awards (2014), Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy (2014)

About The Book: Cara Devon has always suffered curiosity and impetuousness, but tangling with a serial killer might cure that. Permanently.

London, 1861. Impoverished noble Cara has a simple mission after the strange death of her father – sell off his damned collection of priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when aristocratic beauties start dying of broken hearts, an eight inch long brass key hammered through their chests. A killer hunts amongst the nobility, searching for a regal beauty and an ancient Egyptian relic rumored to hold the key to immortality.

Her Majesty’s Enforcers are in pursuit of the murderer and they see a connection between the gruesome deaths and Cara. So does she, somewhere in London her father hid Nefertiti’s Heart, a fist sized diamond with strange mechanical workings. Adding further complication to her life, notorious crime lord, Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is relentless in his desire to lay his hands on Cara and the priceless artifact. If only she could figure out his motive.

Self-preservation fuels Cara’s search for the gem. In a society where everyone wears a mask to hide their true intent, she needs to figure out who to trust, before she makes a fatal mistake

Where to Buy?

Amazon: Kindle Ed, free. Paperback £9.74.

About the Author:

Books and writing have always been an enormous part of my life. I survived school by hiding out in the library, with several thousand fictional characters for company. At university, I overcame the boredom of studying accountancy by squeezing in Egyptology papers and learning to read hieroglyphics.

From my home in rural New Zealand, I write fantasy historical novels with a steampunk twist. I share my life with an assortment of weird and wonderful horses, cats, a mad boxer and chickens who think they are mini Velociraptors.

I send out a newsletter a maximum of 6 times a year. You can sign up at:

Author’s Websites:





Disclaimer: The reviews and opinions above are either from online sources or my own, and have been collaborated together for the ease and benefit of potential new readers. All ratings have been collected from the date of this blog’s publishing and will potentially change in the future.


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