Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Everyone Remembers Their First

Laura writes:

I’m looking for my first ever romance novel which I didn’t finish because
I was too embarrassed and now would really like to find out what happened. I
read it in early 2000’s, but I’m pretty sure it was written before that.

I don’t remember the title or author’s name, clearly. I know it was a
historical set in medieval England or Scotland. The heroine’s sister had
recently lost her virginity to some village guy even though she was
betrothed to the hero (she was betrothed either because they were forming a
truce or as a reward, either way he was some badass knight guy). The heroine
has to disguise herself as her sister on her wedding day to satisfy the
hero’s expectation that a women should be a virgin on her wedding night
(I’m pretty sure there was a lot of emphasis on her bleeding after the sex
scene). The first sex scene occurred pretty early on in the book, within the
first 50 pages or so because it was central to the plot. I’m pretty sure
that the hero was all impressed by how much he enjoyed having sex with the
heroine because she was so responsive.

I also think there was a whole scene with the sister before the wedding
where the heroine was chiding her for losing her virginity and the sister
didn’t really care that the heroine would now have to secretly take her

Clearly the heroine wore a veil to disguise herself at the wedding, but
maybe she revealed herself at the end of the wedding. I think the argument
was that they were already married, so it didn’t matter. I really can’t be
sure about that though, but really it’s the only way that the disguise
situation really makes sense.

Yes. There are very few ways in which the disguise situations make sense. Especially when the result is, “Surprise! I’m not my sister but I am conveniently a virgin! Or, I was until a few minutes ago!” Anyone recall this book?



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  1. 1
    Hvitveis says:

    ooooh! I know this one!

    Impostress by Lisa Jackson?

  2. 2

    It almost sounds like the beginning og The Love Slave by Bertrice Small, except the “substitute the already pregnant twin on her wedding night” plot was only to get the heroine to a nunnery where she would be raped (again) and then sold to a Sultan’s harem and given to the hero to train her in the arts of the bedchamber. 

    Obviously the HABO request isn’t that- I doubt that Laura would have forgotten the “dildo made to the specs of the Sultan’s might wang” used to …prepare her… for him.

  3. 3
    Wendy says:

    @redheaded girl – OMG really? Custom made dildo? What, from a plaster of paris cast? Carved from life? How did he manage to… wait. Maybe I’d rather not know…

  4. 4
    Amitatuq says:

    Was it a Harlequin historical?  Because that sounds really familiar.  But I’d literally have to find and read the cover blurbs on all my old harlequins to tell you what it was.  Sorry. :(

  5. 5

    I think Hvitveis hit it right off the bat!  Here’s the Amazon description of Lisa Jackson’s Impostress:

    To repay the debt she owes her sister, Kiera of Lawenydd reluctantly agrees to pretend to be Elyn during her wedding day so that her sister can have one last night with the lover she must give up to marry Lord Kelan, the “Beast of Penbrooke.” Since Kelan has never seen Elyn, Kiera hopes their scheme will succeed, but everything depends on her keeping Kelan drunk enough to not want a wedding night with his new bride. Unfortunately, after the wedding Kiera finds there isn’t enough wine in all of Wales to keep Kelan from sampling his new wife, but even more surprising to her is just how much she enjoys Kelan’s sensual skills. When Elyn doesn’t show up the next day as promised, Kiera is trapped in a lie and left desperately trying to deceive her dangerous, all too attractive new husband. Jackson’s strong, vivid characters and bold writing style will please readers who want their medieval romances to be adventurous and sensually passionate. John Charles
    Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

  6. 6
    Lisa R says:

    I knew this one and two (!) people beat me to it! :(

    I actually read this book twice… I forgot that I’d read it and the second read-through was a constant source of deja vu, hehe.

  7. 7
    Lisa R says:

    Also, I now want to track down The Love Slave. That sounds like a hilariously terrible read!

  8. 8
    jayhjay says:

    there isn’t enough wine in all of Wales to keep Kelan from sampling his new wife

    Ahh, “sampling his wife”.  Nothing does misogyny as well as old skool romances!

  9. 9
    Joy says:

    I was going to say, it sounds like _Impostress_ by Lisa Jackson,  which I read for the first time last year, but about 2 billion people beat me to it.  It’s set in Wales, not England or Scotland, though.

  10. 10
    hvitveis says:

    Ohhh, “sampling his wife” is just the beginning, and when he finds out the deception its classic You Scheeming Whore. But quite frankly the heroine is a bit of a martyr and probably secretly enjoys it and I remember him as a twit. Not a frequent re-read for me, who tends to read my books again and again..
    Who I really feel sorry for is the sister, who, because of Obvious Morale Reasons is put through the wringer for being a ho. I mean, being devious, falling in love with AND having sex with a man not her husband, making mistakes and daring to go for what she wants….Her story would be intresting to read.

  11. 11
    Natalie Arloa says:

    Setting aside the plot, how about those names: Kelan, Elyn, and Kieran? Anyone else find that potentially confusing?

  12. 12
    Nightwriter says:

    I bought The Love Slave many years ago through a book club. Thought it was a run of the mill historical romance. Holy giant wangers and steel whoopie balls, was I ever shocked! Sex toys galore in that harem. Considering when it was published, that was some over the top racy stuff. I haven’t picked up a Bertrice Small since. Redheadedgirl would have a field day with it.

  13. 13
    Cammy says:

    Holy giant wangers and steel whoopie balls!]

    I have just found my new favorite catchphrase. Thanks Nightwriter!

  14. 14
    Susan says:

    Nightwriter:  Yes, The Love Slave was quite – educational – for its time.  I don’t remember exactly when it was published – early 90s?  but i don’t think we had the Internewt then.

  15. 15
    Susan says:

    Ok, I meant to type Internet, but Internewt is kind of funny.

  16. 16
    Faellie says:

    I remember a book which began very like these descriptions of The Love Slave only I think it missed out on the nunnery.  Leaving after the wedding night with the unvirgin twin sister’s fiance, the heroine was captured, “tested” for virginity and sold/taken to a reluctant “trainer”.  I think turned he out to be the “hero”, but I gave up it all long before finding that out.  I’m not inclined to go back and try to work out whether it was the same book as The Love Slave, though – some of these Habo requests are made by braver people than I.

  17. 17
    AgTigress says:

    …how about those names: Kelan, Elyn, and Kieran? Anyone else find that potentially confusing?

    I don’t know about confusing, but two of them are Irish, not Welsh, and the other is misspelt (Elin is okay as a Welsh name).  Oh, wait — it’s feminine Kiera, not Kieran.  I don’t know if that feminine form existed in the Middle Ages, but at any date, it is extremely un-Welsh.

    Getting The Names Wrong is one of the first signs of trouble in an historical set in the Middle Ages, and it is extraordinary how common it is.  My late friend Talpianna, who was a medievalist,  had countless examples much worse than this one, with modern, sometimes even specifically American, forenames transplanted into the medieval period.  Research on personal names is actually not all that hard to do, and if an author thinks it is unimportant, and doesn’t bother, it says a lot about her approach.

    Susan,  ‘the Internewt’ is a charmingly memorable typo.

  18. 18
    Diva says:

    I thought the names sounded like a total “huh?” as well. Not because I know jacksquat about name origin and nationality but because I was pronouncing “Elyn” eelin and then it rhymed with Keelan and was all matchy-matchy. Ick.

    Although the Keira-Keelan matchup sounds very 80s-era soap operas which were all about the couples having the same initials (Luke and Laura, Frisco and Felicia…okay I only watched GH as a kid, i confess).

  19. 19
    Seadhli says:

    Kiera is an Irish name meaning ‘black hair.’ I know this because, in high school, my sister named her chihuahua “Kiera” after finding it in a Baby Name book.

  20. 20
    AgTigress says:

    I was pronouncing “Elyn” eelin and then it rhymed with Keelan and was all matchy-matchy. Ick.

    LOL!  The Welsh name Elin is pronounced with a short e and a short i:  e as in ‘end’ and i as in ‘pin’. Incidentally, ‘Enid’, once a popular English name, is of Welsh origin, and is pronounced with a short e in Welsh — Ennid, not Eenid.  :)

    Seriously, I think that if a novelist is going to set a story in Medieval Wales, she should at least use Welsh names rather than Irish ones.  It’s not hard to find plenty of suitable Welsh names, so why select names associated with a different country and language?  Unless, of course, she is hazy about the difference between Wales and Ireland, and the Welsh and Irish languages, in which case, I think it might have been wiser to avoid the Celtic countries altogether.

    Confusion about the Celtic countries and their languages is quite annoying for those who belong to one of them.  The Irish language is closely related to Scots Gaelic and Manx, all being part of the older, Q-Celtic (Goidelic) branch of the Celtic language group.  Welsh is P-Celtic (Brythonic), and Breton and Cornish have the same origins.

  21. 21
    Laura says:

    After reading the blurb and the first 2 chapters, it totally is Impostress by Lisa Jackson. Thanks guys!

    Also, I think if I had read The Love Slave when I was that young, I DEFINITELY would have remembered.

  22. 22
    Malin E says:

    Oh, how well I remember The Love Slave, which of all the Bertrice Small novels I read in my teens (and I read a whole bunch, mainly the many Skye O’Malley sequels) was probably the most ridiculous (and very exciting for a young teenage girl). Of all the many “young European girl ending up in a Middle-Eastern harem” plots Small had, that one really exceeded my suspension of disbelief. I think the bit where she killed someone by having sex with him will be burned in my memory for ever.

  23. 23
    Kris says:

    If I was to read the synopsis for The Love Slave now, I would be snarkily attracted to it just for the campiness.  Having bought and read the book when it was released, though, I have to admit it is a very close to the top favorite of mine of LaBertice’s books.  Yes, it is admirably awash in purple prose, and some is frankly uncomfortably explicit.  One of the things I truly did like about the book was that it wasn’t resolved in the formulaic “let’s go back and show ‘em all what I’ve made of my life” endings that we had gotten used to in the ‘90’s.  :)

    reading45 (Yes, that’s almost right…reading now and tbr pile are at about 25…)

  24. 24
    Corinne says:

    Could it be “The Husband Trap” by Tracy Anne Warren that you’re looking for?

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