Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Branding Works

Dr. Zoidberg asks for your help finding this sizzler of a book:

I’m hoping the Bitchery can help me with tracking down this book. I read it
many years ago (even had a copy) and now the copy and the memory of the
title are long gone!

Ok, plot summary: Heroine is going to become villain’s mistress for some
noble reason, but gives it up to the hero because she wants to experience
love/lust before going off with the villain. Villain finds out she’s not a
virgin and and brands her on the breast with a ‘W’ for whore. Heroine a
few years later hooks back up with hero, HEAs all around.

Some pertinent points: part of the action takes place at a (I think) railroad camp, because
I remember a scene with smallpox sweeping through the camp and only the
Chinese workers having a rudimentary knowledge of a type of vaccination. I
remember the hero worked with dynamite, and the heroine had a young child
(secret baby from the hero) that was killed at the opening of the Brooklyn
Bridge.

I really liked this book, and I would love to find this again. Please
help!!!

Aside from the terrible part about the bridge, which would just ruin the book for me, the whole branding-the-heroine thing is CRAZY. Anyone recognize that book?

 

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  1. 1
    Lisa says:

    No knowledge of the book, sadly (or maybe not sadly), but a thought: Sarah, I love the new HABO logo, and the top of the page has always been super-cute. But it’s also kind of super-Caucasian. If you have any other logo development in the pipeline, maybe you could make those represent the diversity of the Bitchery?

  2. 2
    Chantal says:

    I don’t know this book but I do another that features the villain branding the heroine with a W for whore on her breast. It was a Regency romance though – and there was no smallpox or dynamite, caves and mines. Apparently branding was big back in the day?

  3. 3

    I don’t know about this particular book but I’d like to throw out there for the sake of historical accuracy that “Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, wife of the British ambassador to Ottoman Constantinople, is widely credited with introducing the process to Great Britain in 1721. (Wiki)”  In addition, of course, Edward Jenner’s work on vaccination against smallpox was available in all European languages by 1800, and commonly practiced.

    If the HaBO book does indeed contain a scene like that it’s the kind of thing that chafes my butt as an author of historicals.

    Done ranting, resume your book search.

  4. 4
    Daisy says:

    Darlene, which process?! Vaccination, or branding whores with W?  I think you mean vaccination, but reading the comments in order is misleading…

  5. 5

    @Daisy—Ooops.  I meant vaccination, of course.  Dang it, now I can’t go back and edit my comment—too much time has passed.

    Regarding branding working women, I’ve got nothing, except I would want to see the Johns branded as well—where it’s going to hurt the most.

  6. 6
    Jessica D says:

    And to add to Darlene’s point, Jonathan Edwards (yes, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” bane of high school American Lit class Jonathan Edwards) read of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s work and introduced vaccination to the U.S. before it was even the U.S. and over 100 years before the transcontinental railroad and the Brooklyn Bridge were built. So…yeah. AMATEUR HISTORIAN RAAAAAGE!

  7. 7

    @Jessica D—I feel your pain.

  8. 8
    SB Sarah says:

    Sarah, I love the new HABO logo, and the top of the page has always been super-cute. But it’s also kind of super-Caucasian. If you have any other logo development in the pipeline, maybe you could make those represent the diversity of the Bitchery?

    I don’t have any logo development in the pipline right now but soon I will need more. However, I picked the HaBO lady cartoon because if you look at her left hand, it looks like she’s got six fingers. Between Christina Dodd’s three-armed lady, and the six fingered HaBO lady, I am representing the multi-limbed/polydactyly population, eh? 

    The Ladies at the top, interestingly enough, weren’t a logo we developed. It’s a vintage ad for eyeglasses from the 40s, and the original artists were unknown and their credit never established for the creation of the image. We found it at a museum of graphic images and purchased rights to use their high-res scan. But your request is duly noted!

  9. 9
    Laurel says:

    Disclaimer: NOT A HISTORIAN

    But I did read years ago that vaccination was not widely adopted in the US until the twentieth century because it was deemed unChristian, a thwarting of God’s will. It was much more common among slave populations and white folks who were familiar with it and willing to do it usually sought help from that segment.

    But, like I said, I am not a historian and that is simply a tidbit I read a while ago and found interesting. I didn’t research or verify it or anything.

  10. 10
    Dr. Zoidberg says:

    Historical inaccuracies aside, if anyone can help me figure this book out, I would soooooooo appreciate it. I thought it was an Avon ribbon romance, but I’ve searched a list I found of those and nothing seemed to fit. I believe it’s from the early to mid 80s. It’s just one of those things that is driving me crazy, because I remember so much else about the book but not the freakin’ title, author, characters’ names….arrgghhhh!!!

  11. 11
    SusannaG says:

    The U.S. Congress passed an act in 1813 to encourage vaccination against smallpox, and to furnish the vaccine to any American requesting it.  (It was repealed in 1822, in the name of “state’s rights.”)  By the 1840s and 1850s, many states were mandating vaccination against smallpox, and it was pretty much eliminated from the U.S. by 1900.

  12. 12

    @SusannaG—Thanks for the additional info.  I know I shouldn’t respond to these things like Pavlov’s little puppies, but if the novel in question does indeed contain a scene like the one described I’d be hurling it against the wall.

    However—I don’t know the book (yet), don’t know the author, don’t know if the scene is being accurately remembered, so I’m willing to give it all the benefit of the doubt.  I don’t want to judge another author’s book without having all the information.

  13. 13
    orangehands says:

    Sarah: I’ll definitely second Lisa. Interesting about the logo though. For some reason I thought you had designed it, and thought it matched the website perfectly. (Total aside, but I always loved the design of this website, esp the color scheme. It just gives off the completely right vibe for what you were doing with it.)

  14. 14
    Liz says:

    I don’t know about this particular book but I’d like to throw out there for the sake of historical accuracy that “Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, wife of the British ambassador to Ottoman Constantinople, is widely credited with introducing the process to Great Britain in 1721. (Wiki)”  In addition, of course, Edward Jenner’s work on vaccination against smallpox was available in all European languages by 1800, and commonly practiced.

    Also, Reverend Cotton Mather took up the cause for vaccinations during the Boston Small Pox outbreak in 1721.  I took a heath care course last year, and a lot of people were very wary of vaccinations because they thought they would get sick from the bacteria.  Apparently, the 1st vaccinations in the US were done by a doctor on his own children to prove that they wouldn’t kill you.

  15. 15
    SusannaG says:

    Oh, I respond to some Pavlov’s Puppies like nobody’s business.  A recent one that got my ire was a historical mystery set in the early 1890s that constantly referred, in conversation, to the heroine being “a suffragette.”  The word hadn’t been coined yet!

    I hope someone comes up with this novel; it sounds fun-bad.

  16. 16
    lisa says:

    Thanks for the reply, Sarah! I appreciate your willingness to listen.

  17. 17
    kkw says:

    I like the historical inaccuracies, they always make me feel so delightfully clever.

    I remember a book with smallpox, and a workcamp, but I think it was mining, not railways.  I want to say in Pennsylvania.  I can’t remember names, or any pertinent details, of course. Also I recall nothing about branding (it happens in the three musketeers so there’s a literary pedigree if not historical accuracy).  (Anyone else ever hear the theory that the fleur de lis brand suggests that Lady De Winter was a hermaphrodite ?)

    So possibly the book I can’t name is a different one altogether, although I even think I can vouch for having read a book (possibly distinct from either) featuring a kid dying at the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge…getting lost and trampled maybe? You’d think this would be memorable, certainly I have often longed to see plot moppets come to suitably extravagantly unnecessary ends, but I’m sufficiently bloodthirsty that it could have just been wishful thinking.

    Also, I feel like newspapers came into it.  Like one of them was a secret reporter?

  18. 18
    Dr. Zoidberg says:

    kkw, I don’t recall any secret reporters, but it could have been a mining camp. I just remember that the hero did work with dynamite. Also, the child did get lost and trampled…what was interesting about this book was that the heroine’s interactions with the villain were mostly off-scene, as was the death of the child. Also, at one point, after the branding and she escaped from the villain, the heroine worked in a gambling house. She wore dresses that showed her brand and passed it off as a birthmark.

  19. 19
    Susan says:

    Smallpox?  Branding?  Wow.  I thought I had a wild imagination.

    Well, I kind of do when it comes to Peter Wingfield…

  20. 20
    Char says:

    Almost eliminated doesn’t mean smallpox was completely gone by 1900. I can believe there could be outbreaks in mining camps, where the individuals were amoung the poorest of their groups.

    I only say this because my mother and grandmother told me that my grandfather had smallpox as a teen – “When he got better, the scab that covered his face came off like a mask.” (I was 8 when mom told me this. Yes, I have mother issues.) My grandfather fought in WWI. He was born in the 1890s.

    Sorry I don’t know the book.

  21. 21
    kkw says:

    OK, since I appear to have read this book, and seem to be the only other one who has done so, I’m wracking my spongiform brain.

    The newspaper thing may be a herring, but…did they find each other again via some newspaper ad? Or maybe one of them was undercover not as a reporter but as a corporate spy or union buster or something?

    There is always the chance that I’ll come up with something useful, all kinds of dead things return to life in the spring, but I wouldn’t hold out much hope for my memory.  I would guess that I read this in the 90s, if that helps with the dating.

  22. 22
    Dr.Zoidberg says:

    kkw, no reporters or secret agents that I can remember, and since I remember so much about that silly book except the title and the author and the characters (arrgghhh!) I think I’d remember that.

    Thanks for your help…I’ll keep looking.

  23. 23
    Louise says:

    Finally, one I recognize!  Heart of the Flame, by Araby Scott

  24. 24
    Dr. Zoidberg says:

    Louise! That’s it!!! Oh, I love you (in a totally not-weird way)!! Thank you thank you thank you! 

    Now, off to buy a copy! Or, maybe two…or three…

  25. 25
    Louise says:

    Happy to help, Dr. Z!  I’m now inspired to dig my copy out and reread it.

  26. 26
    Literary Slut Kilian says:

    Now that we’ve found the book, I’d like to at my 2 cents about the smallpox vaccine. Jennifer Lee Carrell wrote a non-fiction account of the parallel development of smallpox vaccine in her book The Speckled Monster. It’s a compelling read. Lady Mary learned of the vaccine during her travels in the Middle East. The American doctor, whose name escapes me, learned of the practice from the black slaves who brought it with them from Africa. Some people did die from the vaccine, so there was a real risk, although many more were saved.

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