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HaBO: Zebras on the Plantation

Bitchery reader Donna writes in with enough details that someone will pull the title and author out of thin air within moments, I bet:

It is (more than likely) a Zebra book from 1988 to 1993.  Took place in the South on (I think) a cotton plantation.  Hero is bastard son of the rich plantation owner.  Rich plantation owner let him live in the slave area and be raised.  Once old enough, the Hero became the overseer of the plantation.  But rich plantation owner has another “legal” son who is a few years younger than the Hero.  Of course, he is the villian.

Okay, rich plantation owner dies, leaving legitimate son the owner.  Of course, both the bastard hero and the legitimate son hate each other (as it always goes in these stories).  Okay, legitimate son is about to marry and they are having a party at the main house – celebrating engagement.  I do remember the heroine was being given away by her older sister and older sister’s husband because parents were dead.

But before the party, I remember this scene.  Legitimate son is taking heroine around in a wagon and showing her the vast plantation.  They come upon the bastard Hero.  Of course, he is shirtless and sweaty and she cant’ take her eyes off of him.  And I remember a slave being bitten by a cotton mouth snake and running and screaming toward the bastard Hero.  He, of course, saves her by cutting the snake (which was still attached) to her back ankle.  Then he explains that they are normally poisonous snakes, but the slave has such rough and thick skin on the back of her ankle – and by having that it prevents the poision from hurting her, etc.

Okay, that scene with the snake bite really has nothing to do with the plot, but it always stuck out in my mind.

Okay, at the party – Ballroom too hot (I guess) so heroine goes out for fresh air and runs into bastard overseer.  But she has no idea who he is.  He (wanting to take her virginity in order to spoil her for his brother) almost successfully seduces her.  But legitimate brother comes out and discovers them just in time.

Heroine marries legitimate son.  Even though bastard hero didn’t take her virginity, the villain legitimate son still thinks she is “used” and “dirty” because he touched her.  So, of course, he abuses her (beating her with a riding crop) for the few years they are married.

Then something happens and he disappears and she thinks he is dead.

Meanwhile, Hero bastard son has become wealthy somehow.  And (for reasons that escape me) he kidnaps the Heroine’s sister, her husband, and their children.  I guess he is using it as a ploy to get the heroine.

I don’t remember what transpires, but he gets heroine in his mansion (she doesn’t realize it is the shirtless overseer that she has been secretly dreaming about for years).  Apparently he looks different, so she doesn’t recognize him.

Anyway, I do remember she makes him vow that he will not touch her.  So in one scene he takes his riding crop and trails it up her leg and inner thigh.  She reminds him that he isn’t supposed to touch her.  Then he counters, “I’m not touching you, the riding crop is.”  She angrily pushes it away, not willing to play his little game.  And, of course, the riding crop brings back terrible memories of her husband beating her with his.

At this point, she still doesn’t know they are half brothers.

Blah blah blah, they fall in love.  But the villain (legitimate son) husband isn’t dead.  He comes back somehow.  Okay, I guess they kill him.  I don’t remember.

Does any of this ring a bell with any other bitches?

Half brothers, riding crops, and hot ballrooms? That’s a giant saga of holy crap right there. Anyone know it?


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  1. 1

    Damn. That sounds like the kind of romance book I tried in my teen years…only to run screaming for the nearest R.A. Salvatore fantasy novel.

    I know, I know…

    Hope the Bitchery finds this for you, Donna!

  2. 2

    You know, I’d love to see the official synopsis of this book because how can it possibly top this?? Can’t wait to find out what it is!

  3. 3
    Joanna S. says:

    Does anyone else think that both the villain AND the hero sound like complete dicks and that the heroine would be better off running the plantation by herself (after she frees the slaves to create an autonomous collective, of course)?

  4. 4

    Ditto Joanna S.  I’d definitely vote ‘Door number three’ if given the choice between these guys!

  5. 5
    Wendy C. says:

    No idea what the book is, but I have to agree with Joanna S. that both hero and villain sound like utter pillocks…I hope someone can identify it so I can steer clear of it!

  6. 6
    Emily says:

    You never know, the hero could have realized what an immature jerk he was and “wish” he had never done that with the riding crop.  That is in a ton of books

  7. 7
    Ann says:

    OMG I can see the cover in my mind.  Can I see the title?  Noooo…  But I can see the cover, she’s in yellow and well, snark worthy.

  8. 8

    Dang, they just don’t write them like this anymore!

    And probably for a good reason.

  9. 9
    KCfla says:

    I don’t have a clue either! But I can tell by the description- this one would have hit my wall the minute the riding crop came into play.
    Just sayin’

  10. 10
    Scotsie says:

    Sounds like a Heather Graham, but her stuff was usually more civil war based. Sounds WICKED familiar though.  Maybe Christina Skye?

  11. 11
    Katy says:

    I know I’ve read this book, but the name and author are escaping me.  I want to say the book is set in Louisiana, but I may be wrong…I think I was going through an Old South phase when I read this book so all those story lines may be blending together.

  12. 12
    Scotsie says:

    Not C. Skye … she’s my usual go to gal for high camp. 

    I’m with Katy on this one.  Went through a “southern romance” phase and they’re all blending together, with H. Graham’s “One Wore Blue…” trilogy standing out.

  13. 13
    Kathleen says:

    Karen Robards: Desire in the Sun

  14. 14
    Kathleen says:

    “The cruel code of her plantation society forced her to renounce the man she could never forget. Lilah Remy would marry another, her days filled with anguish, her nights with torment. But Joss San Pietro had vowed to possess the woman whose beauty haunted him and enslaved his body and soul!” 
    Ann’s right, my cover was in yellow.  And ye gods, bad.  I wonder if i still have that book?
    If it’s the one I’m thinking of, the hero had a black ancestor and ended up on the auction block because of it.

  15. 15
    orangehands says:

    Ok, I kept waiting for the zebras to appear on the plantation; damn, I wanted some zoo animals. So what the heck is a zebra book?

    Definitely door number three for the heroine.

  16. 16
    Rose says:

    Can’t be Desire in the Sun; I used search inside on Amazon and neither the snake nor the crop appear in the manner described. Also, it appears to take place in part on the high seas – Donna would have mentioned that, wouldn’t she? I’m actually curious because it seems so over-the-top awful.

  17. 17
    Chrissy says:

    Sounds very John Jakesy to me, but no idea.  My mother deoured that stuff when I was a kid, but even then (longing for dirty books) I wouldn’t read the slave/master stuff.  It gave me nightmares.

  18. 18
    Kay Webb Harrison says:

    Sounds very Thea Divine/Devine (?) to me. I haven’t read many of her books; I don’t remember the riding crip or the snake, but I know that at least one of her books is set on a plantation in the U. S. South.

  19. 19
    smartmensab-tch says:

    Definitely not Desire in the Sun – I have a copy of it.  Nothing in there about rival brothers.

    You know, when those Zebras were bad, they were really awful.  I’m sorry to say I’ve read a lot of them.

  20. 20
    Kristie(J) says:

    I’ve read this book – I KNOW I have – but for the life of me I can’t remember the title or the author.  But I will find it – if someone else doesn’t first that is – oh yes I will!

  21. 21
    Donna says:

    No, it isn’t Desire in the Sun. 

    I really appreciate all you ladies for searching the depths of your memories to help me find this book.

    And, it wasn’t that bad, as I recall.  Then again, I read it quite awhile ago. 

    And someone commented, “What is a Zebra Book?”  Kensington Publishing has a line of books under the Zebra logo.  A “Z” on the spine of the book.

    Keep trying ladies!  Please!!!!

    Donna R.

  22. 22
    Donna says:

    Someone else commented they thought the Hero had a black ancestor.  No, he didn’t.  But that spurred my memory a bit more.  His other was Indian.  He was the bastard son of the rich plantation owner.  The rich plantation owner had an affair with an Indian girl.  So they called him a “half breed” at times.

    Please keep trying ladies!  Ask your friends!

  23. 23

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is Thea Devine’s “Desired”:

    The story you’ve described pretty much exactly matches my memory of the book, and the Amazon description.

  24. 24
    Donna says:

    No, it isn’t Thea Devine’s DESIRED.  It sounds similar, but it isn’t the one I’m looking for.  In DESIRED, the hero’s name is Flint.  My hero wasn’t named that.  I don’t remember my hero’s name, but I am positive it wasn’t Flint.

    And I read my book between 1988 and 1993.  So it would be copyrighted around those dates.

    Thanks for trying!

  25. 25

    I bet it was from the Magnolia Road line, if that helps.  The only one I remember the title of was Louisiana Heat by Jennifer Stevens .

  26. 26
    Kristie(J) says:

    It’s still driving me crazy trying to remember this book!!  I’m thinking Jennifer Wilde or Jennifer Blake or Patricia Maxwell – or an author like that.

  27. 27
    Donna says:

    No, it isn’t Jennifer Wilde, Jennifer Blake or Patricia Maxwell.  I have checked their book lists and it wasn’t on there. 

    I have been searching and searching – and nothing.

    I wish I could remember either the hero or heroine’s name, but I can’t.  I think I remember the sister’s name (and she isn’t even a major secondary character).  But the sister’s name (I think) is Ann.

    The hero kidnaps Ann, her husband and children for some reason.  I think they are in danger and he is helping them.  It has to be something like that.  But even still, he uses to his advantage to seduce the heroine.

    Yes, I know, the hero sounds kind of bad.  But, I believe it was written between 1988 and 1993ish.  So that might explain it.

    Thanks for everyone’s help!

  28. 28
    Coco says:

    It probably isn’t but could it be

    Katharine Sutcliffe’s Fever? Just based on the plot that is. Can’t quite remember the details.


  29. 29
    Donna says:

    Coco, No that’s not it.  But thanks for trying.

  30. 30
    SusiB says:

    No, it’s not Katherine Sutcliffe’s Fever – I’ve read that one. It was awful and melodramatic, but the heroine was the daughter of the dead former plantation owner’s wife, who inherited…something, I think a deserted plantation, after having been raised in a french convent. Could it be something by Rosemary Rogers or Virginia Henley?

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