Help A Bitch Out

HaBO Saturday!

Janine emailed and asked for your help with a rather unique-sounding romance:

The recent BEJEWELED ELEPHANTS crazysauce review made me think of a
historical romance set in India that was actually…pretty good. I got it
years ago from a library paperback “take one-bring one” shelf and would
love to reread it—but of course I cannot come up with title, author, or
names of any of the characters.

The heroine is the stepdaughter? niece? of a British official in 19th
century India. Her biological parents, who may or may not have been English,
had a horrible, crazy passionate, hot-tempered marriage which the heroine
does not remember fondly.

The father died in some manner appropriate to his
hot-tempered personality (thrown from a stallion? drowned in a lake? shot in
a duel?) and the mother at the beginning of the novel is also dead, so the
only remaining parent is this father-figure who seems to be a genuinely
nice, caring guy until he is killed off in about the first chapter (or maybe
the book opens with him already dead too?) while the two of them are off in
the wilds of India on a business-related trip.

Enter the hero, who is a British soldier/spy (with perhaps a picturesque injury?) who has just
escaped from being held prisoner by a local ruler for many months. He is on
his way back to his former headquarters, where he looks forward to being
reunited with his gorgeous fiancee, so he takes Heroine along (since clearly
a white upper-class woman cannot wander India alone) . Except, UH-OH, when
they get there, Fiancee has, on the basis that everyone assumed he was dead,
moved on and gotten either engaged or married to someone else.

So at this point, Hero and Heroine decide the best possible outcome is for the two of
them to get married. Part of the grounds for their compatibility are that
the hero has PTSD-like symptoms resulting in a terror of the dark and
impotence, and the heroine thinks she doesn’t want sex anyway because she
is afraid she has inherited her parents’ passionate nature, and look how
that turned out for them. Obviously neither of these two conditions stick.

There is also a tiger hunt in there somewhere and when they do manage to
sync up their sex drives it takes place in a maharajah’s palace. Despite
the crazy plotting, I remember the characters as being genuinely likable,
and that you could really understand what they appreciate about each other
and what they each bring to their relationship. Would love to reread if
someone knows what I am talking about!

I love when the strength of the characters overrides what otherwise would be an eyebrow-raising plot. Anyone remember this book?

 

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  1. 1
    cate says:

    It probably isn’t the right book – but, there are elements of that synopsis that remind me of Mary Jo Putney’s Veils of Silk .

  2. 2
    FairyKat says:

    I swear I have read this.  I’ll be tracking the answers closely, as I’d love to read it too…  In my memory, it’s a Victoria Holt, but I don’t think that’s right (from my quick googling).

    Oh Bitchery,  do your magic, I so want to re-read this!

  3. 3
    cate says:

    OK – just because this one’s already driving me bonkers – here’s part of MJP’s   synop for Veils of Silk -

    “Gaunt and wearing an eye patch, Army Major Ian Cameron returns to India after being freed from horrendous captivity in Central Asia. Thoughts of his beautiful fiancée helped him survive his imprisonment, but a lot can happen when a man has supposedly been dead for two years, and his return brings him face to face with how much he has lost.

    An unexpected inheritance gives him the opportunity to return home to Scotland and begin a new life. First, though, he must fulfill the dying wish of the Russian officer who had shared his captivity by delivering the colonel’s journal to his niece, Larissa Alexandrovna Karelian.

    The daughter of tempestuous Russian aristocrats, Laura Stephenson loved her quiet English stepfather and was happy to follow him to India as companion and hostess. His death leaves her adrift—until a handsome, haunted Scot appears to deliver her uncle’s journal.

    Startled to find a grown woman rather than a little girl, Ian quickly realizes that Laura is uniquely qualified to be his wife in an unconventional marriage. She accepts his offer and together they begin the long journey home to Britain with a side trip to the mountains to retrieve the belongings her uncle left with a friendly maharajah. In the process, they are swept into an adventure that threatens the future of India, and brings them together with a love and passion that is more than either of them had dared to dream ”
    -

  4. 4
    Barb in Maryland says:

    Add me to the list of those believing it was Putney’s Veils of Silk.  Not one of my favorites because i never could buy into the heroine’s motivations.  And, to me,  it Moved. So. Slow.

  5. 5
    talena says:

    yep. Veils of Silk.

  6. 6
    Kit Russell says:

    I’ve been wondering about this forever!  The first and third books in the trilogy were in the ship’s library back when I was in the Navy *mumble* years ago, and I really enjoyed them.  I wanted to re-read them, but I’ve always been too lurky to actually submit a HaBO!

  7. 7
    Reneesance says:

    Oh put me down for Veils of Silk too.  I re-read that one at least half a dozen times in high school. I’d probably end up throwing it against a wall if I read it now :)

  8. 8
    Lostshadows says:

    Rats! I finally know one, and everyone else knew it too.

  9. 9
    willaful says:

    Lotsshadows, I know, me too! Add me to the list of those who don’t like this one. The heroine all scared of sex because of her passionate parents makes my eyes roll back so far in my head they may never return.

  10. 10
    Kay Webb Harrison says:

    I knew this one right away, too. Of this Mary Jo Putney trilogy, I enjoyed the first and third books about equally. It was the second one—Silk and Secrets(?)—that I did not especially like. How could the heroine have abandoned wonderful Ross? The plot of the second book is to rescue Ian, the heroine’s brother, from captivity in Central Asia. He was imprisoned with his heroine’s uncle, who was executed. I didn’t like the endless trek across the wilderness; I especially could not sympathize with the heroine—I don’t even remember her name!
    However, I did enjoy Ian and Laura’s travels in India, their “period of adjustment,” and the political and military action.

    Kay

  11. 11
    Clau says:

    That’s Veils of Silk by Mary Jo Putney, I loved that book.

    Clau

  12. 12
    Janine says:

    Yes, that’s it! Can’t wait to reread and see if it holds up. Looking back, I think it was the first time I came across a romance hero who was not a perfect physical specimen—but still totally a hero—and I was very intrigued. Thanks for everyone’s help…

  13. 13
    FairyKat says:

    Drat, Veils of Silk isn’t the book I’m remembering,  I’ll have to try harder to rustle up some more details so I can submit a HaBO of my own…  But WOW, what a synopsis!

  14. 14
    miz_geek says:

    I’d always wondered if I’d actually be able to recognize a HaBO if I’d ever read it, or if all the romances I’ve ever read have just blurred together in a jumble of heaving bosoms and throbbing manhoods.  Maybe Mary Jo Putney is just more memorable than the other authors I used to read, but I knew this was one of hers right away.  Nice to know my brain still works!

  15. 15
    Susan says:

    Def Veils of Silk.

    And Kit?  Thanks for serving.

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