Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Mangled Hands Make for Hot Romance

This inquiry comes from Tamara, who remembers a lot of the details, but hasn’t been able to locate this book.

This was a contemporary romance, I don’t think it was part of a series or imprint, and I suspect it was something like 300+ pages. I found it on a random shelf in an army base on the Israeli-Egyptian border among a pile of truly awful bodice rippers (also Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day. Eclectic, I suppose,) and I can’t for the life of me find it again. Help!

The heroine is a sort of down on her luck itinerant musician who plays clubs and the like, when they can get the work, with her younger, and generally flightier and more emotional singer sister. Their family history is gone into at some extent, and the only thing I can remember is that they are a quarter Japanese. The sister’s name was something like Eva or Ella, and the heroines…something with a V? Maybe?

Oh, and the heroine is a virgin, at 28, (this is rectified over the course of the novel,) while the sister has either a pregnancy scare or a miscarriage at some point not long before the beginning of the story.

They wind up – er, somehow – as houseguests of a small, eccentric family-run guesthouse or farm somewhere way up in the Appalachians, where they learn to leave behind the hectic modern world and let go of their suspicions and learn to love and so on. (I’m mocking a bit, but it wasn’t bad at all.)

The farm/inn is in danger of being sold off to developers who want to build a huge and not at all eccentric super-resort of some kind. The family are of Scottish origin, have been there since the 1700’s, and the convulted family history is full of love stories with unlikely lost people, and currently have their own internal issues with people who are mad at eachother and a recently dead patriarch (or possibly older brother?)

The hero is an ex-CIA (Or FBI. Or NSA. Something in Washington) agent, who was home for a holiday and helping run the log mill, and arguing with his father (or possibly older brother) who was then tragically killed in an accident (with the log mill. Its quite graphic.) and the hero gets his hand badly mangled, fingers amputated, that sort of thing, (Theres a nice scene where the heroine tells him to stop whining about the hand and forces him to play piano with her) which of course means he has to leave the CIA (or FBI or…) and now he’s home, all guilty, self loathing, directionless and bitter. His name is…something short with a G. Guy or Gus, possibly.

The only other things I remember is that the sister ends up paired off as well, and theres a thing where at some point they both cut off/grow out their blonde dye/extensions, for their natural black hair. I read it in 2007, and at a very rough guess, it seemed like it would be a stretch for it to be set earlier than the late 80’s. (The heroine wears her hair in cornrows and has piercings, she’s embarrassed about being a virgin, and, er, other stuff I don’t remember that made it seem quite contemporary.)

Any clue at all would be extremely appreciated.


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  1. 1
    Carolyn says:

    OMG – I know this one!

    I’ts When Venus Fell by Deborah Smith. Very good book. I couldn’t find my copy and ended up scrolling Amazon, lol. I knew Venus was in the title and so it was.  :-)

  2. 2
    Rose says:

    I am pretty certain this is When Venus Fell by Deborah Smith.

    I just have to add that my Israeli military base had an admin officer who was fond of Jude Deveraux and was happy to share books :)

  3. 3
    Dee says:

    I’ve read this one too. Got it from a motel’s swap shelf.
    The musician heroine and her sister were trying to live incognito since their family was investigated for some kind of crime/ spy thing when they were kids.
    The hero with the mangled hand was part of the investigation team of the sisters’ past. Part of their romance is he takes her to the storage unit with the family’s stuff that the police seized years ago and helps her take their stuff back to the inn or an apartment.

    And the family inn also has a dark history with one of the grandmotherly types having murdered her husband to protect her kids.
    Funny the stuff you remember.

  4. 4
    Rose says:

    Carolyn beat me to it but I think we now have a consensus as to the title.

    I don’t remember much of the story but I do remember the warehouse scene, and them cutting off their hair – I think some bratty teenaged relative had done something bad to the extensions. Also, I’m pretty sure that the sisters’ (Venus and Ella) then-newlywed parents had been the first guests at the inn when the hero (Gib) was a young boy, and he’d promised them to watch over their daughter.

  5. 5
    Wendy says:

    Got halfway through the description and immediately thought “When Venus Fell.”  I read a library copy back when I rediscovered the genre fresh out of library school (so, uh 1999-ish).  I remember lurving it beyond all reason, and naturally ended up buying a copy of my own to reread.  Which have I done that yet?  Of course not.  Because I suck.

  6. 6
    cbackson says:

    I am no help, but the combination of log mill and SuperSecretAgentWhatever-ness is glorious. 

    I must also admit that I originally read this post too quickly, and was trying to figure out how musician chick and sister got from the Israel/Egypt border to Appalachia.

  7. 7
    Gemma says:

    “Oh, and the heroine is a virgin, at 28, (this is rectified over the course of the novel,)…”

    I just wanted to say how much this bit of dry humour made me smile.

  8. 8
    Tracy says:

    Crap!  I knew this one—it’s on my “own and re-read until I die” list.  Truly an awesome book!

  9. 9
    MaryK says:

    This sounds pretty good.  Except for the graphic saw mill accident.  Does it make up for it by being equally graphic about the romance?  I associate Deborah Smith with gentle country romance rather than passionate romance.

  10. 10
    An says:

    Oh stink! I’m late.

    This is definitely the book by Deborah Smith.

    I really like this one and actually own it. It’s not my favourite of her books, but it’s still great. Smith is one of my crappy-day-going-to-read-in-the-tub authors.

  11. 11
    Kayla Krahmer says:

    I love that I knew this one – even if I was too late to be the first!  This is a great one, as are many of Deborah Smith’s books.  I’ve always thought she does an excellent job of drawing the reader into her plots..

  12. 12
    Marjanna says:

    Def the Deborah Smith book. I first discovered it at a lending library while working in a children’s home in Jinja, Uganda. Funny how this book has made its way round the globe. When I got back to the States, I bought it for my keeper shelf and reread often.

  13. 13
    Tamara says:


    This has been nagging at me for months, you guys are amazing. Gib! His name was Gib! I can finally stop spending hours googling things like “Appalachian saw mill music hotel romance.”

    I must pick up more of Deborah Smiths books now, especially if this isn’t even her best one.

  14. 14
    Karen says:

    I haven’t read anything by Deborah Smith, and this one looks pretty good to me—or it did until I looked at Amazon and saw a little more of the summary…  I’m not huge on drama and this book looks filled with Drama.  Is this the case?  I hate to think I could miss a really good books based on pre-judgement!

    Although… I’ve given way more than 61 crappy books a shot—maybe I should pick this one up after all!

  15. 15
    Glenn says:

    I think my wife has read this one. :)

  16. 16
    Barclay says:

    I am so excited to know the name of this book.  I read this years ago.  I could not remember the title but I have wanted to track it down.  It’s a great book.  A little bit of drama but more like soap opera drama and not Oprah Winfrey book club drama.  Looks like it will be available on Kindle Aug 3.

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