Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Inspired by Story, With Added Skank

Sarah writes in asking for help locating a novel inspired by another story:

I am always amused by romance novels that swipe their plots from really
famous classic movies. (“Fancy Free” by Catherine Anderson is a good
example, from the anthology Three Weddings and a Kiss…… who didn’t know
that was “inspired” by Seven Brides for Seven Brothers? Come on!)

But there’s one I’ve been searching for for a very long time. I read it
in middle school and, for the life of me, can’t remember the title. All I
know is that it is Green Dolphin Street neatly reformulated into a more
smutty version. Googling has been proven fruitless as any search simply
comes back about the Goudge or Faulks books, or the movie.

Plot as I remember it (different from the movie and original book, but same
Later 1800s, America? There are two sisters. One is a borderline skank,
represented by wearing charcoal on her eyelids to give them a smoky look.
The other is our heroine, a far more sweet natured girl with super long red

Skanky sister has a hot beau, our hero. Heroine, I believe, is in love with
him, and is mortified that Skanky sister is only toying with Hero.

Hero gets drunk one night, and writes a letter to finally ask Skanky Sister
to marry him. Only…. wait for it… he writes Heroine’s name instead!!
And she accepts, deliriously happy.

We are whisked away to New Zealand, and lumber, and sex, and
misunderstandings! Heroine finally finds out he never really wanted to marry
her in the first place, and leaves Hero! Hero realizes he does actually love
her and has to woo her proper, and so tracks her down. Perhaps there is a
pregnancy involved. I know not.

Skanky sister marries rich man like she always wanted. Happy Ending for

I have been wanting to read this book again for over 10 years! It would
make my month to even find a lead.


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  1. 1
    Lisa Hendrix says:

    I’ve read this book! (one of the few HABO’s I have)

    Unfortunately, I only recall maybe 3-4 titles for every 100 books I read , and this isn’t one of them. Here’s hoping someone else can do better for you.

  2. 2
    Thuy says:

    This sounds a little like For All The Right Reasons by Elaine Coffman except she travels to California to marry him:

  3. 3

    Oh man, I love New Zealand and lumber and sex and misunderstandings! In that exact order!! I don’t know what the title is, but I’m dying to read it.

  4. 4
    bookishheather says:

    This reminds me of Adam’s Promise by Julianne Maclean. Booklist’s description of the book is… “When Madeline steps off the boat in Nova Scotia ready to meet her new husband, Adam, whom she has been in love with since she was a young girl, she finds that he is less than delighted to see her. Unbeknownst to Madeline, Adam had written to her father asking to wed Diana, Madeline’s older, more beautiful sister….Agreeing to stay together until Diana arrives, Madeline and Adam try living and working together as friends, only to gradually realize they want something more.”

  5. 5
    Sybylla says:

    Unfortunately I don’t know this one, but if you love the swiping of plots, let me recommend The Pursuit of Marriage by Victoria Alexander.  The entire plot isn’t stolen, but certain plot elements (as well as entire – and key – scenes) are swiped from Pillow Talk.

  6. 6
    Cindy Stubbs says:

    I know what you mean, I read a romance novel that still haunts me as I want to remember the author’s name. I read somewhere that romance readers buy by line, not by author and that is so true!!! Why is that????
    My book was about a rich girl who writes a society column and meets the man who writes the same column for a competing newspaper. They meet at a radio talk show. (She is from wealthy family,  her dad owns the newspaper she works at) He tells her to take the silver spoon out of her mouth and find out about the real world, but when she rents an apartment on the wrong side of town this innocent needs his protection!!! Him and his big mouth he thinks! Great book. I keep thinking someone will know this book online. It just bugs me and I don’t know why????!!!! This book was about money and the real world, a little different and not so fluffy!!!

  7. 7
    Becca says:

    talk about swiping plots, the most egregious one that sticks in my memory is a Barbara Cartland book that was virtually scene for scene from These Old Shades, except instead of Leon/Leonie, it was Aime/Aimee (or something like that)—NB, I didn’t buy the book a friend gave it to me saying that if I liked historical romances, I’d like this one. And I did.. the first time around. I like heroines who talk in complete sentences, please, instead of breathy ellipses.

  8. 8
    Sarah V. says:

    Wow!  This is so exciting!  Thank you so much for the responses.  And I realize I could be very wrong about New Zealand.  I apologize!

    Thuy—For All The Right Reasons sounds REALLY REALLY close to it, but I don’t ever recall a twin brother.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t the book I’m looking for.  Katherine and Karin sound so familiar, and the publication date is around the time I read my mystery novel.  I’m definitely going to find out.

    BookishHeather—I know it’s not Adam’s Promise, but I’m going to read that one, too!

    Sybylla—Fabulous!  I’m so adding The Pursuit of Marriage to my list.  Pillow Talk is one of my favs.  Isn’t it wild that some authors will pilfer entire scenes???

  9. 9
    Keira says:

    I honestly think you must have described the “Ugly Book.”

    My friend from high school got the UB from a second hand shop. The cover was so hideous. The leads were suppose to look like they were in their late 20s or early 30s but they looked about 80 with dyed hair.

    He was wearing plaid and there were logs and she had bright red really long hair.

    I never read the book the cover frightened me so but your story could so fit the UB cover.

  10. 10
    Stephanie says:

    My favorite swiped book was Christina Dodd’s, um . . . In my Wildest Dreams. Most of her Governess Brides series are swiped, and that one is from Sabrina. Which she acknowledges on her website.

    Which is funny, because at the moment I’m watching one of the most famous movies with a swiped plot—“Sleepless in Seattle.”

    But I don’t know the HaBO.

  11. 11
    Nadia says:

    My first thought was also the Elaine Coffman book.  I had read that book years and years ago, and the “wrong sister” rung a bell.

  12. 12
    Anna V says:

    I’m sure I’ve read it and I am *certain* it was set in NZ.  As much as I adore Green Dolphin St, it’s obvious that Elizabeth Goudge had never set foot in the country because she got so much technically right but the feel was all wrong.  The swiping author actually did NZ more authentically.

    No idea on the title though.

  13. 13
    Sarah V. says:

    If this helps at all, it would have been written before 1999.

    And I remember two very distinct scenes:
    After sex, her red hair cocoons her body… which I thought was kind of gross and a total mess to get the tangles out.

    The other scene is after she’s left him and he’s found her at a hotel.  To drive him insane she’s put on this really skin tight green dress with a very high collar.  And it works.  ;)

    Keira—It may have been it!

    Anna V—Okay, so my long term memory may not be off.  I’m almost going mad not being able to remember the title.

  14. 14
    Vinessa says:

    To Cindy Stubbs, the book you are describing sounds exactly like “Here Come’s Trouble” by Debbie Macomber.  It is one part of a two part Christmas Book called “Glad Tidings.”  I really loved it too!

  15. 15
    henofthewoods says:

    When Georgette Heyer did this plot it was “Devil’s Cub.” (Just mentioning since “These Old Shades” is about the parents of the hero…
    But no lumber and no New Zealand. 

    Now I have to go reread.

  16. 16
    Sarah V. says:

    Devil’s Cub is a great book, one of my favorite of Heyer’s.  But the wrong sister is only the beginning.  What I loved about the book I’m looking for is that it’s the main conflict.  So much angst!  So fabulous!

    You should read An Infamous Army, if you haven’t already.  It’s another Georgette Heyer.  The heroine is actually the daughter of the main characters from Devil’s Cub, and the characters from The Spanish Bride are in it, too.  It’s really, really good.

  17. 17
    CN says:

    Sarah V I’mc going to chime in and say that you’re description is exactly like the Elaine Coffman book. Did the red head end up attacked by a bear? If so that’s the one. In the same spirit of copied plots, Johanna Lindsey copied one plot almost to the letter. One her first (if not the very first) books was Captive Bride, which copied the plot of what some experts say was one of the first modern trashy novels. Funny how this came up when Captive Bride just got released for a new run.

  18. 18
    CN says:

    Sorry about the typos. Still adjusting to the keyboard on this thing.

  19. 19
    Sarah V. says:

    CN—I hope it is!!  I actually ordered the Coffman book along with a couple other “wrong sisters”, so I’ll know in a few days.

    I don’t remember a bear at all!  However, I always remember the little things.

    And that’s so interesting about Captive Bride!

    Thanks so much, everyone!  Merry Christmas!

  20. 20
    Sarah V. says:

    And thank you so much everyone—For All The Right Reasons by Elaine Coffman came in today, and it is THE ONE.

    I can’t wait to start it again.

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