By Alis A. Rasmussen.
This is a freaking WEIRD BOOK.
Chryse and Sanjay are two newlyweds who Just Happen to find a weird deck of cards (note that they claim these are tarot cards, but they are not. Clearly the deck is something the author made up herself). They fiddle through it, drop one, and suddenly find themselves in a whole nother world! Which they fit into within about fifteen minutes, as they Just Happen to find some rich enough nobles willing to take total weird strangers in, befriend them and line them up with jobs. C&S (and dear lord, Chryse's full name is freaking weird, it's like she wandered out of a magic world herself) go to some weird magic woman, who tells them the only way to get home is if they bring her some treasure from a dig. And mostly after that, we forget entirely about C&S being in a strange world, wanting to go home, missing people, or much of anything.
The plot of the book is that there's a typical absentminded professor who suddenly gets funding to do an archaeological dig (for yes, the treasure, whatever it is) from the Earl of Elen. The guy has quite the eeeeeevil reputation-- stories are told about him along the lines of "he boinked everyone in a whorehouse and then killed them all so they wouldn't share what awful sexual things he did to them", classy. So naturally, when he says that in exchange for funding the dig, he wants to marry the professor's daughter--she ain't thrilled. The daughter, Maretha, is of course forced into marrying the dude anyway--though she does at least manage to keep him out of bed with her. He claims he's marrying her for an heir, but Maretha is no idiot and thinks that's not the case. It's not, so what does he want her for? Hmmm... Anyway, dude has magic and is definitely ambiguous. Oddly enough, the most compelling parts of the book involve the earl and Maretha's relationship. You don't know where it's going or what to root for, but reading it was kind of hypnotic.
There's also some other love stories, rescued kids, a regent planning on taking out the heir to the throne, one old guy who's willing to stop the regent but probably won't get that far, etc., etc., fantasy stuff. That stuff is pleasant enough to read, but when the "treasure" bit finally shows up, I will say that the novel was pretty surprising. Odd, but kind of made it work.
On the one hand, some of the book is oddly compelling, especially when Maretha and the earl are on stage.. On the other hand, I don't know why Chryse and Sanjay are supposedly the heroes of this book, because they don't do a hell of a lot and seem like supporting characters/an excuse to have the story take place in another world. They sure as hell don't feel like strangers in a strange land in the way that they should be. (Oh, and how they get home is suddenly easily dealt with, along with enough of a post-return letter to work as an epilogue. Convenient.) Also, the characters are one and all too stupid to notice that a single girl is RAPIDLY GETTING FATTER AND FATTER, GUESS WHY. And there's way too many Happy Ending Pregnancies going on at the end that kind of made me gag with the too-cuteness.
I'm inclined to give it two and a half stars. It's a weak book, but there's something to it, all the same.