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HaBO: Almost Incest But Not, Thank God

FairyKat writes in looking for the first romance she ever read:

This was my first ever romance novel—it came up for sale in the high school
second hand book sale, my friend Karen bought it and we passed it around
from hand to sweaty hand. Occasionally I try Googling various plot details,
but I haven’t been able to find the title.

It’s set in Scotland, probably the Highlands, somewhere in the 18th or 19th
century. The heroine has emerald eyes and raven tresses (and may even be
called Raven). The hero is called Robbie. They meet on an island, I think,
she’s been swimming, he’s a voyeur, they have a clandestine romance. Then,
at a ball, the heroine’s long lost half-brother is announced, but it’s
Robbie! She faints. Eventually it turns out her mother had an affair, so
they aren’t related after all.

I’m afraid to reread it and find it’s dreadful—on the other hand, I
remember being 15 and being delightfully shocked by all this glory (naked
people! extramarital sex! ohhhh nooooo incest icky, but affairs! happy ever

Surprise Brother is not a plot device we see much of. I think this is a good thing. The HornyPants Signal of True Lurrrrrve™ is often encountered, such as when the heroine is dressed as a boy and the hero wonders what the hell is wrong with him that he’s so interested in a young man, but I don’t recall seeing “I can’t be horny because he’s my brother” all that often. Like I said, that’s a good thing.

Anyway. Anyone remember this book?


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  1. 1
    Wendy says:

    Wait, her mother had an affair that produced this hero, and yet they’re not related? How is that NOT related?

  2. 2
    nekobawt says:

    i don’t know, but i’m amused by the concept of “i thought he was my half-BROTHER but it turns out he’s only my HALF-brother, so that’s ok!”

  3. 3
    Marguerite says:

    I have a feeling that Robbie is her father’s son – except that then it turns out that the man who raised her wasn’t really her biological father, so she and Robbie aren’t related.

  4. 4
    Marguerite says:

    In other words, they’re each the product of an affair—Robbie is the son of Papa and his lover, while Raven is the daughter of Mama and hers.

    Captcha: possible68 – There are probably 68 possible ways of explaining hot half-no-not-sibling action in this story!

  5. 5
    Susan says:

    Thank Goddess, I’m pretty certain I have *not* read this.  Sounds like a Zebra book from the 80s – Raven????!

  6. 6
    LG says:

    The only “I can’t be horny because he’s my brother” stories I can think of are manga. If I remember correctly, Marmalade Boy has a romance in which the pair try to squelch their feelings for each other because they believe they’re brother and sister. I had a hard time enjoying that series once that particular romantic complication came up, even though it turned out all right for the two of them in the end.

  7. 7
    megalith says:

    This sounds super familiar to me. Unfortunately my memory is crap when it comes to titles and authors. IIRC, she thinks they’re half-siblings with the same father, but it turns out she’s the result of an adulterous affair.

    I agree that this is not my favorite form of Big Misunderstanding, Sarah. Instant Yikes! and then you’re supposed to apply brain bleach apparently. Which, not so easy if the sexxoring has already commenced when the misunderstanding happens.

  8. 8
    Liz says:

    i have no idea what this book is, but the holy crap we might be siblings plot device was used in an old Lisa Jackson.  The hero was a teenager when he little sister was kidnapped.  Ever since his parents were looking for the kid.  Then, years later, this girl shows up, claiming to be the long-lost sister.  Of course big brother and possible little sister are really attracted to each other, and there is some PDA even though there is a possibility that they are related (I think only half, but ew).  I believe that it is revealed that the heroine is the long-lost sister, but that she was the product of an affair that his step-mother had and wasn’t his father’s kid after all.

    Even though they weren’t related, I wanted the brain bleach, and I haven’t read anymore Lisa Jackson books.  Too afraid to find incest…

  9. 9
    Milena says:

    I have no idea what this is, but I have to say, I just love HaBO’s. I mean, really. Incest! Two wives! Dutch translations! Where else is there anything that even approaches this level of fun? Particularly when I’m supposed to be working…

  10. 10
    Jules says:

    Hilarious, @Milena! It’s been a scintillating HaBO day, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to see the cover for this book.

    Captcha: almost87 – How much you want to bet this book was published in ‘86? It sounds like a plot line straight from Dallas or Falcon Crest

  11. 11
    Amanda C. says:

    Hmmmm, my first thought was Mists of Avalon by Bradley because of the setting and confused half-brother incest-age. But the names are wrong and in Mists of Avalon they really were half-brother/sister. *yeachk* Maybe it’s some other take on Arthurian legends.

  12. 12
    SWegener says:

    Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding has the ultimate we’re in love but surprise we might be siblings, or maybe not! It was written to make fun of the very first novels ever published. Sort of one of the first tropes ever!

  13. 13
    Hell Cat says:

    Oh, great. This has caused a mental revisit to V.C. Andrew’s Ruby series.

    *scrubs brain with lysol and goof off*

    Quite53: why yes, over 53% of my brain is quite ruined now.

  14. 14
    sweetsiouxsie says:

    I’m confused.

  15. 15
    Diana says:

    If there is amnesia involved, it’s probably Only For a Knight by Sue-Ellen Welfonder. Hero is Robbie, amnesiac heroine is Julianna. All the details sound the same—maybe-incest isn’t usually a big plot point.

  16. 16
    Eva says:

    Not the same book but Dancing Doll by Janet Louise Roberts had a plot twist where it looked for a while like the hero and heroine were brother and sister. That book was creepy in many ways but I loved it at the time. Says something that I remember it after nearly 40 years. Weird how that is.

  17. 17
    StaceyIK says:

    Oh no.  This sounds really familiar to me, but not in any way that I can recall the title or author.  But I definitely think Old Skool romance with the almost but not quite incest.  And of course the Scottish lass with green eyes and raven tresses.  Don’t all the lasses have green eyes?

  18. 18
    lexie says:

    Sort of sounds like a early Susan Johnson novel that was later revised, expanded and released. 1700’s Scotland. Name escapes me though…

  19. 19
    Quizzabella says:

    “Pandora” by Jilly Cooper had a subplot about two half siblings who thought that they weren’t related because they thought the dad didn’t father her; turns out that he did, cue fainting in a sort of Jerry Springer style DNA results cause shockwaves way. It’s ok though becuase it turns out the first wife cheated on the husband with the next door neighbour so the couple aren’t actually blood relations.  The family tree must be pretty confusing.
    Sorry, I have no idea what the book is though.

  20. 20
    Ros says:

    I was going to mention Pandora as well.  I am a massive Jilly Cooper fan anyway, but Pandora is one of my favourite books and the Jonathan/Emerald brother/sister storyline is also one of my favourite.  She also faints when she discovers that Jonathan is her brother (DNA tests).  But it all turns out okay in the end.

  21. 21
    Hell Cat says:

    The family tree must be pretty confusing.
    Sorry, I have no idea what the book is though.

    That sounds like One Life To Live in book form. No, wait. Passions. Definitely Passions brought to book form. *waves at the Cranes*

  22. 22
    Elisabeth Rodrigues says:

    This is slightly off topic but there is a Portuguese classic with this story line – The Maias, where brother and sister live together as husband and wife for a while – the brother eventually finds out and actually sleeps with her after finding out that they are related – and that’s the beginning of the end – obviously there is no HEA.
    Then there’s the Fiela’s Child by Dalene Matthee where the boy is found and raised by a coloured family and when the authorities found out they hand him over to a white family (South African book from the 1980’s) who lost a child of his approximate age years before.  Obviously he falls in love with his sister and its wrong – angst, angst, angst, eventually its found out that he is not the missing child so its ok – this one has a HEA.
    The “his your brother” trope might not be common in romance but it seems pretty well represented in other genres.

  23. 23
    Daisy says:

    Isn’t there a country song about this situation?  “To marry Robbie ain’t no sin, ‘cause you and Daddy ain’t no kin”

  24. 24
    Isabel C. says:

    I know there’s a folk song—“Johnny Be Fair”—along those lines: “Your father may be father to all the boys in town but still—he’s not the one who fathered you, so marry who you will.”

    Good times.

  25. 25
    redcrow says:

    I don’t recall seeing “I can’t be horny because he’s my brother” all that often.

    I used to watch a lot of telenovelas – pseudo-siblings crushing on each other were pretty common there.

  26. 26
    Donna says:

    Am interested to see what this is now. Sounds like one of those carcrash novels, all URGH…but I must read more…avert eyes and peek past hand…really…REALLY?! Funnily enough one of the first romances I read as a teenager was a maybe-siblings story by Barbara DelinskyTwilight Whispers; AND my favourite Linda Howard has a big incest incident in Shades of Twilight……Now I’m a bit worried about myself!

  27. 27
    henofthewoods says:

    I was trying to remember where I heard about this song, then I realized it was right here, January 22, 2011.

    Anyway, just another song to add the your play-list while reading this book when you find it.

  28. 28
    Janelle says:

    This is undoubtedly a book by Laura Black, called Ravenburn.

  29. 29
    megalith says:

    Reminds me of the time I was cleaning out my bookshelves and handed my sister a Philippa Gregory trilogy. A few days later, I actually remembered the plotline—murderous sociopathic “heroine” seduces her brother and tries to murder his wife to prevent having to marry and move off the estate she loves—facepalm time. I called my sister up and asked her how she liked the books. There was this awkward pause, then we both ended up laughing like loons. I’m still apologizing for that!

  30. 30
    Jules says:

    Jokes aside, I can’t believe I didn’t immediately think of Jeffrey Eugenides novel Middlesex when I read this. It’s not a love story (it falls in the literary fiction category) but there is a mutual brother/sister relationship. The story is about the consequences of that union.

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