Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Something’s Under her Skirts

Katherine writes:

It’s a historical I read back in jr. high/high school that I’m guessing was written in the late 80’s/early-mid-90’s.
I don’t remember any character names or the title, but the basic plot (as I remember it) is the heroine is the last of a line of Scottish smugglers working to circumnavigate that pesky oppressive British government. The hero is an English customs officer set to figure out who this obnoxiously successful smuggler is, bring him (because who would suspect a woman) to justice and shut down the operation. All sorts of fun ensues, including a hefty chunk of the book taking place on her ship, where he is trying to prove she’s the smuggler while she tries to complete a smuggling run right underneath his nose.

Naturally they fall in lust/love and the compromise becomes she agrees to retire when they get home and they hatch out a plot that will enable the hero to prove to his superior that he has been successful in his mission while keeping the notorious smuggler’s true identity a secret. Classic big misunderstanding ensues when the heroine independently decides the best way for this to happen would be for her smuggling persona to “die” by going over a cliff as the hero and his backup troops come to make the arrest. He thinks he’s killed her and is furious when he arrives at her home later to find her very alive and very pleased with herself, vowing he wants nothing further to do with her.

Later that night the heroine is chased down by the hero’s superior, who has been trying to convince her to marry him? (I think – I don’t really remember what prompts the murderous chase, just that it happened). He hunts her through the cliffs and caves, eventually ending up strangling her at the edge of one of the cliffs … where naturally the hero comes at the last minute and saves her.

The villain ends up getting sent off to be an indentured servant in either the US or Australia I believe. There’s a side story involving the heroine’s mother and the hero’s father, who have a romantic history — they met and fell in love while he was darting about Scotland with Prince Charlie, and I seem to recall her hiding him from pursuing redcoats by shoving him under her skirts.

Why aren’t there more romances titled, “Under Her Skirts?”



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  1. 1
    Lil' Deviant says:

    I am really thinking it is Smuggler’s Lady by Jane Feather.

    Word: likely 69
    I think that has possibility.  *grin*

  2. 2
    hapax says:

    This isn’t your book, but when I saw the headline I was *sure* it was going to be Patricia Veryan’s WAGERED WIDOW, one of my favorites.  I love the scene where the heroine hides the hero (a Jacobite agent) from soldiers crashing a grand ball.

    What other great skirt-skulking heros are out there?

  3. 3
    AbbyT says:

    Seconding the Smuggler’s Lady from Jane Feather.

  4. 4
    michelle says:

    wow, i have to find this book! actually, it looks like i have to find Smuggler’s Lady AND Wagered Widow. thanks, ladies!

  5. 5
    Katherine C. says:

    Holy crap ladies!! I’m so excited. It definitely is not Smuggler’s Lady by Jane Feather — the main character was not a widow (although her mother is) and it takes place in Scotland and onboard her ship — and the hero was not a noble (I don’t think, he may have been) but he was being bribed by the government to hunt down the smuggler (who turns out to be the heroine) or they’ll hang his criminal father (the Bonnie Prince Charlie supporter).
    HOWEVER, giving me Jane Feather helped me find another book I couldn’t recall the title of, The Silver Rose, that had stumped me mostly because the story line was so similar to so many other books, so thank you very much! And I’m still hoping for a solution to this query. And keep in mind, the skirt-skulking was done by the hero’s father under the heroine’s mother’s skirts decades before this story takes place (wow, sounds like an episode of Jerry Springer doesn’t it?).
    Thanks ladies!

  6. 6
    mirain says:

    I believe that hiding-under-skirts motif dates back quite a ways—I recall it being used in Tin Drum by Günter Grass.

  7. 7
    Spider says:

    You know, I think SBTB could do a great fundraiser by assembling a basket of books from the HaBO.  I would bid on a basket of, say, chocolate and literary WTF’ery.

  8. 8
    Gram says:

    WOW…Like your idea, Spider…
    hes63 and if he is I am robbing the cradle!  LOL

  9. 9
    SusannaG says:

    That’s a great idea, Spider.

  10. 10
    Patyann says:

    It sounded a lot like Captain Jack’s Woman by Stephanie Laurens but not quite right.  It takes place in the Norfolk coast and the ending doesnt sound right so I could be wrong.  But it was a good book.

  11. 11
    Katherine C. says:

    That’s not it either. I guess it will just remain a mystery. Sigh. Thanks anyway ladies.

  12. 12
    Susan says:

    Don’t have a clue what this is, but what a plot!

  13. 13
    Polly says:

    This isn’t it, but parts of the plot sound very like Jo Beverley’s The Dragon’s Bride. It’s Cornish smuggling, and there aren’t any Jacobites (that I remember), but the showdown with a government agent sounds very similar.

  14. 14
    Lil' Deviant says:

    I am sure I have read it.  Now it is driving me crazy.  I hope someone can figure it out.

  15. 15
    Patricia Briggs says:

    There’s a Joan Smith romance, I think it is Endure My Heart, that has a plot similar to what you are describing.  The book was published in 1980, and it’s probably been at least fifteen years since I last read it

    . I don’t remember a shipboard incidence—though there could have been.  The hero had been sent out to get the leader of the smugglers—and the heroine is the leader of the smugglers and much fun ensues. 

    The leader of the smugglers had to have a spice pseudonym (preSpice Girls, folks) and were called “Miss” though the assumption was that they were men—so it was a real joke that “Miss Rosemary” or “Miss Sage”  (sorry I don’t remember her actual name) was really a woman.

    It was a good book.  And now I’m going to have to trudge out to my garage and pick through 80+ boxes of books to see if I can find it.

  16. 16
    lunarocket says:

    I can confirm that it’s definitely not Captain Jack’s Woman by Stephanie Laurens, I just read it last month. Other than that I can’t help, I am very new to the romance novel thing started reading them in July. Y’all are giving some great ideas on what to read and not read next though. :-)

  17. 17
    Katherine C. says:

    Nope, not Endure my Heart either, but thanks for the suggestion (and, may I say, I heart your books like whoa and like damn :)

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