Help A Bitch Out

Help a Bitch Out: Romance by Firing Squad

Bitchery reader Sara, more appropriately known as Baroness Nutte-Saxon, is in search of the first romance she’s ever read. And wow.

I bought a romance novel from a drugstore when I had nothing to read at band camp (geek alert!) over the summer in the late 1980s or early 1990s when I was in my early teens. All I remember of the plot was that it was set in Colonial America, and early on, the heroine was sentenced to be executed for something that she didn’t do. The hero was in charge of the execution, and he couldn’t stop it. So he took the bullets out of all the rifles, gave the “ready, aim, fire” order, and let his soldiers fire away. The heroine, expecting to die, fainted upon hearing the crack of the guns and fell into the pit where the bodies go. The hero was able to smuggle out her limp body and explained that he couldn’t tell her what he’d done because she had to act genuinely scared during the execution. I believe sexx0ring then ensued. That’s all I can recall of the plot.

I remember thinking at the time that the book was actually quite good and being surprised about it, because I’d always assumed romance novels were junk with sex scenes attached. How wrong I was! It wasn’t until about 10 years later that I started reading them regularly, but I’ve often wondered what my first romance novel was called. Does that ring a bell with anybody?

Band camp? Colonial America? Firing squad? Innocent because imminent death is scary? I’m so curious – what book is this?


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  1. 1
    Carrie Lofty says:

    Dude, no clue. Falling into a pit of bodies always does me good for the labido. But that sounds awesome—you know, the reading about it…not the actualy doing it.

  2. 2
    liz says:

    Oh! I read this too. And I can’t recall the title at all – I’ll be bugged by this one all day.

  3. 3

    Jeez, I don’t know, but I think I’d like to read it.

    On the other hand, a book recommendation from a teen self-confessed band geek?  Not exactly the NYT Review of books…

    But just think how far you’ve evolved: “Once I was a lowly band geek with braces, now I’ve blossomed into Baroness Nutte-Saxon.  I owe it all to the Smart Bitches.”

  4. 4
    JaneyD says:

    I’d have probably killed the hero instead of boinked him. What a jerk.  There was no guarantee she’d up and faint, however tight her corset.

    They didn’t use firing squads in Colonial times, they just hanged people.  Bullets and powder were expensive, rope was cheap.

    They did not execute women lightly and avoided it when they could.  That was when the old double-standard came in handy.

    Methinks the writer is guilty of manipulating things to create a false threat, and I want her name so I can avoid that title!

  5. 5
    EmmyS says:

    Oh, I’ve read this one! Not that I can remember the title. Didn’t they run off to the West together to avoid the sheriff, who discovered what they had done?

  6. 6

    Did none of the soldiers notice when all their rifles just went “click” instead of “ka-POW!!!” because none of them were loaded?  Because I’m thinking usually soldiers would notice that, being in the business of shooting people and all.  Just sayin’.

  7. 7
    Hope says:

    Actually, for this time period the rifles would be muzzleloaders, wouldn’t they? The powder, the wadding, and the ball would all be loaded separately into the muzzle. Thus, even if the ball wasn’t there, the weapon would still go boom. However, once the ball was in, you need a special tool to take it out, or the only way to unload is to fire it and reload it with just the powder and wadding.

    I agree about the firing squad, BTW: seems anachronistic. But, personally, I’d like to read this.

  8. 8
    Yvonne says:

    All of those complaints are valid but the book may be set in a different time period than Sara thought. It was, what, 15 years ago? Also, band camp can be pretty crazy, so who knows where her head was at. Just sayin’.
    I’m interested in any case. I hope someone comes up with it.

  9. 9
    Lorelie says:

    I’m always tempted to submit my first romance novel.  But somehow I don’t think “it was a western and she lost her virginity on the wood floor of a cabin” would net a response.  Or actually maybe it would net too many responses.

  10. 10
    Charlene says:

    I just posted a comment about the non-existence of firing squads in Colonial America, but the blog software eated it.


  11. 11
    Sara says:

    Aw, no takers? Drat. I guess the book is lost to band camp history.

    I’m sure my memory is faulty after so many years, so blame me and not the author for historical inaccuracies … until proven otherwise.

    Also, I’ll have you band nay-sayers know that I made the acquaintance of a handsome trumpet player in high school band, and when we bumped into each other almost a decade later, we were married within a year. And we still make beautiful music together. (Oh, come on. It had to be done.)

  12. 12
    Mel-O-Drama says:

    okay, I think think think this is a Woodiwiss novel. But it wasn’t a firing squad, she was being sold into indentured servitude, if it’s the one I’m thinking of. Everything else sounds so familiar, so I’m wondering if maybe your memory is fuzzy and the heroine was being sold instead of killed. Petals on the River. I actually loved that story.

  13. 13
    Sara says:

    No, I’m quite sure it was an execution. In fact, I think she’d been falsely accused of spying. But thanks for the suggestion!

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