When Inez Olivera receives word that her parents have gone missing and are presumed dead, she leaves behind her comfortable life in upper society Buenos Aires to travel to Cairo to find answers, armed only with her sketchpad and a golden ring filled with old world magic that her father left her. What she finds upon her arrival is a guardian who wants to send her home and his infuriatingly handsome assistant who has made it his mission to thwart her every move. But the power within the ring is pulling her down a path that will lead to the answers she is seeking—and danger that she never saw coming.

I don’t even know how to begin talking about this absolutely beautiful story. It is set against the lush backdrop of Egypt with descriptions that feel romantic and magical. Ibañez is able to paint a picture in a way that doesn’t slow down the story while still getting the point across. I felt fully immersed in the setting, close enough that I could almost reach out and touch it myself. 

The Egyptian mythology weaved into the story is also effortless. The reader is never talked down to, but allowed to learn alongside Inez in a way that feels natural. In addition to that, we are also taken on a journey of learning about archeology, tourism, and the theft and/or destruction ancient artifacts—something that isn’t talked about enough. It is clear a lot of care and research went into this story and Ibañez pulls it all together beautifully.

And the romance! Oh man was the romance worth swooning for. The obvious attraction, the tension, the feeling of something being forbidden…this is how you write a slow burn romance that doesn’t make me want to scream in frustration (just kick my legs and giggle like a little schoolgirl).

AND THE ENDING. I literally had to read it twice because I couldn’t believe it. And now I have to wait HOW LONG for the second book? Isabel Ibañez, you will be receiving my therapy bills.

WHAT THE RIVER KNOWS is the first book in the Secrets of the Nile duology by Isabel Ibañez. It is available now and you’re definitely going to want to pick up a copy here before the sequel comes out next year.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."