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HaBO: Not Enough Romances With Leprosy

Crazysauce HaBO Day continues! Darlene Marshall, Duchess Twitterpants (so named long before the invention of Twitter!), asks for your help with a romance mystery that’s been bugging her:

I never thought I’d post a HABO request, being a peer of the Bitchery and all, but I find myself stymied and slightly tipsy, it being Saturday night and really, there wasn’t enough merlot left to put that bottle back now, was there?

Anyway, Sofia B. writes me out of the blue regarding a post I left at SBTB months ago about a book I read in the late 70s/early 80s, a historical where “the hero is the heroine’s father’s enemy.  He kidnaps her, rapes her, falls in love, she gets away, he follows her to a leprosarium(!) even though he has a horror of leprosy because it killed his mama and when he gets there he gets down on the ground, groveling, and washes the heroine’s feet amidst all the lepers.” 

Aaargh!  I can see the scene in my mind, but I can’t remember the novel’s name!

I want to say it was set in Louisiana, which was later home to the only leper colony in the US at Carville.  What the hero didn’t know was that leprosy, or Hansen’s Disease, isn’t that easy to catch but it sure can scare the living daylights out of you.  I want to say the hero was a pirate, but then, I always want to say the hero was a pirate.

Anyway, it’s driving me crazy now.

Yes. Crazy. That’s exactly what today is ALL ABOUT. Old Skool Romances brimming with crazysauce. Anyone remember this romance?



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  1. 1
    PamG says:

    Would this book by any chance be Darcourt by Isabelle Holland?  The time period is right and I clearly remember the leprosy thing. It’s been many years since I read it, but here’s a link to a review.

    Well, I hope it’s a link.

  2. 2

    @PamG—That novel sounds like an amazing confection of leper crazy, but it’s not the right one.  The book I’m looking for was definitely a historical, I believe early 19th C. setting.

    And let me just add that I too wanted to slap Thomas Covenant upside the head and say, “Get over yourself already!”

    Jeez, what a whiner!

  3. 3
    LauraGr says:

    I swear I read this one! I thought I read one like this in the late 80’s. Maybe from Susan Wiggs? Gah!  I remember several key elements, but not the author or title.

    I remember one where the (same Louisiana setting) there was the pirate and his twin brother and the innocent maiden and a cholera epidemic? Yellow fever?

    I’ve read lots of pirate books. And I have utterly lost my memory for titles.

  4. 4

    @Darlene, I never could get past Thomas Covenant’s whining long enough to read more than 100 pages of the first book. Glad I’m not the only one who wanted to slap him.

  5. 5
    Carrie S says:

    Dear Husband thinks the Thomas Covenant books are made of win.  I CAN’T STAND THEM.  Ironically, I just read another book where the characters talk about the TC series, and the guy likes them, and the girl doesn’t.  Is it a gender thing?  Does having a penis suddenly make that writing bearable?  Has anyone else done a gender test here?

  6. 6
    LauraGr says:

    I read the Covenant books and thought they draaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggggged.  I wouldn’t recommend them to a friend. There is not much to like about them, from my perspective.

  7. 7
    henofthewoods says:

    For Thomas Covenant Novels – I couldn’t get past the “hero” raping someone in the opening. I don’t care if he is sorry, I can’t sympathize with him and I don’t want to read about him.

  8. 8
    Pam says:

    I definitely remember reading the book you are talking about. I was thinking it was possibly by Marilyn Harris. Maybe not though.

  9. 9
    Pam says:

    Sounds kinda like American Eden by Marilyn Harris, but I am not sure it is. I know I have read this one. Wish I could remember for sure.

  10. 10

    @Carrie S, I’ve never met a woman who likes the Thomas Covenant books except for my mother, and without being too melodramatic, let me just say that I wouldn’t trust her taste in anything. She also adored Vanilla Ice.

  11. 11
    Phyllis says:

    If it’s Louisiana, is it the same author that came up a couple of months ago with the Gothic plantation novels? And the sword fighter club? And women in cloaks running away from big, dark houses?

    OK, so I couldn’t remember the author a few months ago and have forgotten her name again, all right?

  12. 12
    Phyllis says:

    Jennifer Blake! Aha! (Had to go mess around with amazon search function for a bit) But that’s all I’ve got. It can’t find anything when I search “Jennifer Blake leper”. With apologies to Jennifer Blake.

  13. 13
    LauraGr says:

    I got some very odd search results from using both pirate and leper simultaneously as search terms. Still no clue about the habo book. I’m fairly useless today.

  14. 14

    @Phyllis—I thought it might be Jennifer Blake, but Karen Robards keeps popping into my head also.  I need to find descriptions of her early historicals and see if it’s one of hers.

  15. 15
    Barb in Maryland says:

    With that hint, I found Amanda Rose by Karen Robards, pub date 1984.
    Here’s the blurb:

    Impetuous English beauty Lady Amanda Rose was determined to escape the loveless marriage that her cruel stepbrother would force on her. But it was a black-haired rogue from the New World who was to change the course of her destiny forever.

    Fugitive of the Crown, unjustly accused of murder, Matt Grayson lay wounded and near death when Amanda first discovered him on the rocky shore. But her promise not to betray him was soon replaced by a still greater vow – to possess this dark and mysterious stranger who aroused in her a passion unlike any she had ever known.

    But a cruel twist of fate forced Matt to flee her embrace. Suddenly Amanda was prisoner on a ship bound for New Orleans – accused of betraying the man she loved more than life itself. Now when her beloved fugitive took her in his arms, it was as his most passionate enemy…

  16. 16
    Barb in Maryland says:

    Well, that’s what I get for hitting the button too soon…
    Re: Amanda Rose—I realize that lepers are nowhere mentioned, nor does her father seem to figure into it.  But hey, the blurb mentioned New Orleans and Pirate—so I thought I’d throw it out there.

  17. 17

    @Barb—Good try, but I don’t think this is the one.  None of the reviews mention the lepers, and I really, really remember his mama dying of leprosy is part of what made the hero obsessed with revenge and avoiding lepers.

  18. 18
    FD says:

    Dammit, I’ve read this. I’m sure I’ve read it, absolutely positive – I remember cackling at the crack-tasticness of the down-on-his-knees-among-the-lepers ending scene whilst simultaneously smiling at the grade A grovel.  And also the mental raging at Mama dearest’s death. But damned if I have a clue about who wrote it though.

  19. 19

    @FD—Whew!  I was afraid I was losing my mind.  Glad it’s not just me.  And that was a classic asshat hero grovel, wasn’t it?

  20. 20
    Pam says:

    It sounds like something by Shirlee Busbee of Jennifer Wilde. Couldn’t find anything close enough though.

  21. 21
    Cyn says:

    Anyone knows when the book was published or the names of the hero/heroine or something? Keywords to help refine the search? The mystery’s getting to my head…

  22. 22
    Merrian says:

    I have no idea about the HABO but have to join in solidarity about disliking the Thomas Covenant books. The self pity and the rape were just too much for me. I am interested in the gender split on how these books are read that others have recognised. I know I stopped reading Robert Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Tim’ books and another fantasy author, Paul Kearney because I couldn’t shake the feeling that their books gave me, that they really didn’t like women.

  23. 23
    AfroQueen says:

    I did a search and come up with HIlary Mason’s “Morisco”…but it didn’t mention leprosy, so it may not be the one.  Here is the Kirkus Review:

    Sexpot Celia Lovell’s mean husband has cast her off, so it’s no tragedy for her when her parents’ entire hometown of Combe is kidnapped into slavery by the dreaded pirate Jaffir Rais in the early 1600s. Off to Sallee, the Moroccan enclave of pirates and social scum, where Rais takes Celia as his concubine: rape turns to rapture, the earth moves, etc. The fate of some of the other prisoners is less easy, however; especially that of escaper John Dunton, whose eight-year-old son will be sold to an Arabian pederast unless he voluntarily returns to Sallee himself. And then there is Celia’s family: her sister Anne, whose Puritan minister fianc‚ wants martyrdom more than her; and her brother Roger, whose early mistreatment of “Rais” (then a Combe village lad named Tom Chandler) caused the whole episode—he’s condemned to life as a galley slave. Busy and steamy, but even innumerable bedroom scenes, tears, escapes, and a little bastinado can’t really spice up this overcooked couscous. (Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1979)

  24. 24

    @AfroQueen—Good heavens!  That’s not the novel in question, but it does sound like an excellent candidate for “Pass the crazysauce!” reading.

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