Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Lots of Details, and a Virgin, Too!

Megan is looking for a book that’s haunted her for awhile. There’s virgins! (What, you’re surprised?)

This isn’t a particularly interesting one, so I forgive you if you don’t put it on the blog.  It’s just that it was the first romance novel I read (at, like, 12), and it haunts me.  Although, I have this horrible feeling I won’t even particularly like it if I ever find it and read it again.  I think the hero was tres old skool, which I tend to find repulsive.  Well, soft-core old skool is sometimes titillating.

So, it’s a Harlequin from the 70’s (or possibly earlier).  It’s the kind that had the one-color cover (usually colors that were also used on refrigerators of the same era, coincidentally), with the inset cover-art on the front.  I’m almost positive the cover color was avocado green, but it may have been mustard.  The heroine is pictured on the front (of course), and she had short hair cut in a sort of “pixie” style.  The hero is lurking in the background, looking all masterful.  I think he was the general TD&H.  There might have been a palm tree, and/or luxury yacht in the background.

The storyline is thus:  She’s his secretary, but he doesn’t notice her existence.  Her cousin/sister/some kinda relation is supposed to run away with him on his yacht, but chickens out (or maybe takes her slutty self off with someone else?), so the heroine gets on his yacht instead and hides in a stateroom until they’ve left port.

The cousin/sister/some kinda relation is a morally loose woman who men pant after, while the heroine is a mousy virgin who thinks she’s unattractive.  The hero is a jaded, hyper-alpha hottie who thinks women are all bitches after his money.  He’s never going to fall in love (again?).

He comes into the stateroom to get some, and he discovers the heroine instead of the slut he expected.  He may or may not have sex with her before discovering it, and he may or may not recognize she is his secretary before being told.  I’m pretty sure he informs her she will just have to continue filling in for the other chick, instead of returning her to port.  He dresses her up in some sexy dresses he happens to have onboard, and they have formal dinners and etc.

They continue on to his private island, and of course he eventually falls in love with her.  At one point, she is walking along some kind of widow’s walk, looking out over the view.  He may or may not join her.  The end.

Think there’s any chance anyone will recognize it?

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  1. 1
    Venetia says:

    Wow, I don’t know the book but with the yacht and swapped identities, it sounds like a modern version of Georgette Heyer’s Devil’s Cub!

  2. 2

    @Venetia—Exactly my thought when I read this.  But I bet the Harl. version doesn’t have a scene with a certain elderly English gentleman in a French inn. While all of the novel is awesome, that scene keeps me re-reading Devil’s Cub year after year.

  3. 3
    Bridget says:

    Gotta love those virgins who keep getting mistaken for skanky, skanky whores. Sadly, I don’t know which particular book featuring non-skanky virgins this one is.

  4. 4
    JM says:

    My first thought at the beginning was Miss Mary’s Devil by Emma Goldrick- twin sisters, one a nice virgin, the other a skank, but there is a blind child in that… so it goes down another path completely!

  5. 5
    gautami says:

    I think at that time most of the Mills & Boons and Harlequins were pretty much like the one you mention here.

    I have read so many that I don’t know which from which. And now I think I ought to go back and pick more of such stuff. Are those still available?

  6. 6

    At one point, she is walking along some kind of widow’s walk, looking out over the view.  He may or may not join her…

    …with a pet tiger.

    See? It’s the romance novel update to the classic fortune cookie ‘in bed’ paradigm!

    Or should that be ‘in bed with a pet tiger?’

    Sorry, OP, no clue on this one, but good luck. You’ve come to the right bitches!

  7. 7
    Emma Black says:

    It’s been years since I read it.  It almost sounds like it could be Anne Hampson’s “The Fair Island.  I don’t remember much about it, but there was definitely a slutty twin, a mousy twin, an arrogant hero who thinks all women are like the slutty twin.

  8. 8
    KimberlyD says:

    I went straight to Devil’s Cub too. Of course, its not the same plot but it is so similar that I wonder if this author ripped Heyer off.

  9. 9
    Zita Hildebrandt says:

    I wonder if it’s Iris Johansen’s Tempest at Sea:
    Jane Smith sneaked aboard Jake Dominic’s yacht on a dare, never dreaming she’d collide with the bronze playboy-director in the flesh! But the muscled arms that captured her were inescapable—and suddenly Jane found herself agreeing to a month-long cruise of the Caribbean. It was a full-fledged romp on the open seas, where Jane challenged Jake at every turn: faced with her lively mind, indomitable spirit, and her deliciously untouched body, he felt powerless to resist her. Jane had never given much thought to love, but under Jake’s tutelage she discovered its magic…and its torment.

  10. 10
    Joanne says:

    I’ve just wasted half of my day off looking for this HABO book -and why?? – but I found another book from Harlequin that I had to share.

    Doctor in Bondage by Jean S. Macleod (1961).
    I always knew Harlequin was a leader in romance books but they really were waaaaay ahead of the rest of the publishing industry.

  11. 11
    Kate Y says:

    Chalk me up as another person who immediately thought of Heyer’s Devil’s Cub!

  12. 12
    SusannaG says:

    It’s not Tempest at Sea – I’ve read that one, and she’s not his secretary, for starters, and I don’t think she has a sister.

  13. 13
    Kinsey says:

    Either I read it, or there’s more than one “virgin on playboy’s yacht and private island” which, of course, there must be.

    I remember a cynical playboy, slutty sister, blushing virgin, and a scene where they’re lying on the beach and he’s all shakin’ and shiverin’ with the wantin,’ but he’s trying real hard not to Ruin her, and he runs a finger across her sandy belly and says “My God. Sand.”

    That’s completely not helpful, I know. I just think it’s weird the way tiny fragments of books stay with me for 20, 30 years, yet I forget to pack my child a snack for school.

  14. 14
    Katie says:

    Darlene, that scene in the French inn with the old gentleman is a good part of the reason that I had to go and a buy a second copy of Devil’s Cub as soon as my first fell apart!

    Megan, if you can’t find the book you’re looking for (or even if you can) I seriously recommend checking out the Heyer!

  15. 15

    @Katie—I know, right?  You want to grab people, make them read These Old Shades and then shove The Devil’s Cub into their hands just so they can appreciate that amazing scene in the French inn.

    I think it’s time to re-read Shades, and Cub, and Faro’s Daughter, and Ajax, and Sophy…there go my plans for the summer.[g]

  16. 16
    Brianna says:

    @Darlene I’m another one here who loves ‘The Devil’s Cub’. Whenever I am between books in my TBR, or waiting for my next book to arrive, 99% of the time I pick up a Heyer, because I know it will be awesome :D

  17. 17
    meganb says:

    OK, I clearly need to read Devil’s Cub (I’ve been meaning to read some Heyer since I’ve never – gasp – read anything by her. It was all about the Jane Austen for me, baby).

    @ Jennifer Andersen—laughed so hard the kids got out of bed to find out what was wrong with me.  They didn’t get it.

    The Fair Island sounds vaguely familiar.  It did have some really prosaic title like that, I think.  It can’t be the one with the lying on the beach and rubbing sand on body parts, because he weren’t worried ‘bought no ruination.  He just went ahead and ruined away.

  18. 18
    meganb says:

    Good lord, I wrote Jennifer Andersen instead of Jessica.  That’s embarrassing.  I read you, even.  I was thinking “OK, she spells her name ‘-sen’, not ‘-son’ when I was writing.

    It’s late.  I have a cold.  Whatever.  I’m sorry.

  19. 19
    JoAnn says:

    In the 70’s I did read a Harlequin where a sweet young virgin is unloaded, by her slutty step-mother, on an unsuspecting yacht owner who makes her wear some minimalist outfit (this is where I learned the word “cache-sexe”) while they have dinner. He later regrets his caddish behavior when he realizes she is his one-and-only. I really only remember it for the vocabulary lesson.

    I have to get a copy of “The Devil’s Cub.’

  20. 20
    Sally says:

    I don’t know what this book is, but I do have a large vintage Harlequin collection, and when you a possible yacht, I thought about The Rainbow Days by Jean S. MacLeod.

    Back cover reads:
    Vanessa was in the Caribbean for three months—to work as secretary to the writer Alex Rossiter, not to have a romance with him, she assured everyone firmly.

    She might have felt more romantically inclined towards Alex’s brother Max—but Max had no room for a woman in his life. Not after Diane.

  21. 21
    Cath Bilson says:

    It does sound like an Anne Hampton. I wouldn’t know which one, but there are stacks of them, all ‘70s and a lot of them are set in the Caribbean or similarly exotic spots, boats included.
    Don’t have time but you might like to surf Anne’s page on fictiondb and see if anything rings a bell.

  22. 22

    @ meganb- *hugs* No worries, truly!!  Glad to have given you a giggle-snort! (And hope you feel better!)

  23. 23
    Anony Miss says:

    Alright, alright! I’m ordering Devil’s Cub now!

  24. 24
    Bibliophile says:

    …and I think it’s time I finally read it. It has been languishing in my TBR for too long.

    Megan, I hope you find your book.

  25. 25
    zinemama says:

    Put me on Team Devil’s Cub rip-off.

    And oh, that scene in the French inn! There is no one quite as urbane and perceptive as Alastair…

  26. 26
    Kilian Metcalf says:

    Hoody-hoo!  These Old Shades, Devil’s Cub and Infamous Army are all available on Kindle.  Thanks for reminding me of these great books I haven’t read in years.  I’ve loved Georette Heyer for 40+ years and am sooooo happy to be able to download the books to my Kindle.  Now if they would just do the same for D.E. Stevenson, my joy would be complete.

  27. 27
    Kilian Metcalf says:

    Hoody-hoo!  These Old Shades, Devil’s Cub and Infamous Army are all available on Kindle.  Thanks for reminding me of these great books I haven’t read in years.  I’ve loved Georette Heyer for 40+ years and am sooooo happy to be able to download the books to my Kindle.  Now if they would just do the same for D.E. Stevenson, my joy would be complete.

  28. 28
    meganb says:

    Bad news.  It’s not Anne Hampson (well, there are one or two that I haven’t been able to find covers or synopses for).

    But what the hell, half the fun is the looking.  Besides, I’ll probably hate it when I find the damn thing and reread it.

  29. 29
    boogenhagen says:

    Is it Destiny Paradise by Margaret Mayo

    from back cover
    How had Lorna managed to fall in love with the man who had just jilted her sister? She should hate him!

    Only one thing was quite certain—she could hope to find no more happiness with Ashley Ward than had her sister

    It also sounds like Violet Winspear 70’s style.

  30. 30
    tracyleann says:

    Sounded like a Roberta Leigh to me. I found two titles that are similar, but not quite right:

    The Shade of the Palms, 1974:

    To Stephen Brandon, Julia was no more than Miss Watson, his unflappable, highly – efficient secretary. A dowdy woman wearing unfashionable clothes, sensible shoes and spectacles, he would have described her, if he’d considered the matter at all.

    But he was to discover that appearances can be deceptive and that there was a totally unexpected side to Julia .. .

    The cover background is green and there is water in the background, but there plot summary is slim & there’s nothing about a yacht, so it’s hard to tell.

    A Girl for a Millionaire, 1977

    A three-week cruise on a millionaire’s yacht! To Laurel it was more than tempting. And when her fellow worker said she couldn’t go herself unless Laurel accompanied her as chaperone, Laurel allowed herself to be persuaded.

    What a mistake! For, once aboard the yacht, Laurel discovered she had really been brought along as “company” for Nicolas Ponti.

    The fact that Nicolas was young, handsome and wealthy did nothing to console her. Laurel could see a battle ahead … and she had no intention of losing!

    But… no green cover or stowaway plot, and the other woman is a co-worker rather than a sister/cousin/relative.

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