Help A Bitch Out

HaBO-Thon: This is Some High Grade Crazysauce

This request is from Cathy, who remembers so much crazy from this book, it's just amazing. 

I'm looking from the first romance I ever read, which I'm pretty sure I
stole off my older sister. It was a category M&B (I remember it was a skinny
book) and the more I think about the plot the more I realise how WTF batshit
crazy it was.

Now I don't remember any names, but I reckon publication date would have
been 1978-1983 ish.

So without further ado, here's the crazy I remember…

Our heroine is a young stage actress about to break into the big time when
she suffers a terrible accident (or maybe the attack of a vicious rival?)
that leaves her with horribly disfiguring scars all down one side of her

Devastated, she runs off (to Cornwall? maybe?) puts on a rubber mask with
black Cleopatra wig attached to hide her scars, and gets a job in a theatre
as understudy to the leading lady, a Villlainess of the first order, who of
course has designs on…

Our hero, the director of the play. Or maybe owner of the theatre. The Boss,

The heroine falls for the hero and spends a lot of time agonising over how
she'll get sacked/dumped if the hero finds out about her face and how can
she ever tell him?

Some plot stuff happens that I don't remember and the Villainess attacks our
heroine and tries to scratch her eyes out. The mask gets damaged and the
heroine freaks out and hides in her dressing room. She spills nail varnish
remover on the mask and it's magically all mended again.

The book ends when the hero catches the heroine without the mask and has no
idea what she's talking about when she sobs out her agonised confession
about her scars. Because Lo! They are magically all mended too! She didn't
look at her face in the mirror without the mask on for months and they all
healed up.

Everyone HEA.

What gave me the crazies about this book is that I am absolutely sure that
in the late '70s / early '80s not even George Lucas had a pull-on rubber
mask with Cleopatra wig that would not make you look like an alien instead
of a beautiful young woman. And if he did I don't think nail varnish remover
would have fixed nasty scratches in it.

I'd love to find this and read it again, just so I can see if the author
really did manage to put that much WTFery in a book which can have been no
more than 200 pages long.

This is miracle crazysauce. I want to read this. I bet half of you are thinking, “Please, someone identify this book so I can read it.” This book must be found for the betterment of crazysauce readers like us – and we're everywhere! Anyone recall this book?


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  1. 1
    Candy says:

    This is the craziest romance plot I’ve ever read of.  It actually makes me think of a cheezy 1970s horror film for some reason.  It could star Donald Sutherland as the director.  And a young Amy Irving as the creepy mask-wearing gal, bent on revenge against all non-scarred up actresses… I just keep picturing her in that mask…lurking about.  Creepy. as. f#ck.

  2. 2
    LG says:

    I love crazy HaBOs like this. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the book is, and my Google-fu wasn’t up to the task of finding it.

  3. 3

    Somebody, please find out the name of the book! Your description has made me want to read it. I love the ending… so WTF?! :D Reminds me of a book I read in which the heroine grows up in a nunnery and she used to be ugly as a child. She marries the hero and goes on and on about how “plain” she is. Finally the hero gets fed up wit her, rummages through his trunk, takes a mirror out and shows her, her beautiful face. Sooo cheesy, lol :D

  4. 4
    Hannah says:

    Well, I found a list that has at least 5 dozen titles of disabled/disfigured heros or heroines, but sadly this HaBO is not on it. Still the source is too good not to share.
    I hope someone else has better luck than I did :)…

  5. 5
    LG says:

    Yeah, Dara Joy’s Knight of a Trillion Stars has a similar moment. The heroine isn’t disfigured or anything (sorry, no magical healing), but she doesn’t think she’s particularly beautiful and is a little jealous when the hero is around beautiful women. Then she spots herself in a mirror and is all “omg!” because suddenly she’s gorgeous. She asks the hero if he did anything magical to her, and he says no. I remember, the explanation for her sudden beauty is something like: she now looks beautiful because he sees her as beautiful. Or something similarly eye roll-worthy. The male gaze, better than any face cream.

  6. 6

    Holy crap if anyone finds this sucker I want to buy a copy. It’s like a reverse POTO with magical nail varnish remover. Talk about a Sunday read.

  7. 7
    Amber says:

    The only book I can think of is Starting Over by Lynsey Stevens. It’s been a long time since I read it and I can’t remember if the heroine wore a mask.

  8. 8
    Cathy B says:

    That’s not it I’m afraid. I’ve tried every kind of Google-fu I can think of and not come up with an answer. Really hoping some of you Bitches are smart enough to figure out what I can’t!

  9. 9
    Lisa M says:

    This is so weird. I’ve read this story, all the details exactly as you describe, but it wasn’t a Mills & Boon book. It was in the form of a comic strip called ‘Mask For Melissa’ and it appeared in the 1984 Tammy Annual For Girls. 

    I collect girls’ annuals, and I always enjoyed this story because it was so ludicrous. Melissa is scarred in a car accident and runs away from her stage school, then gets a job in a seaside show. She has a fight with her rival backstage, but the scars on her mask heal up. Eventually she’s discovered by a theatre producer and gets her big break in a new rock musical. Her secret is discovered when she has to take off her mask to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to another actress. Although there’s a hint of romance with a rock star who’s performing in the musical with her, this is extremely secondary to the main theme of a girl learning to accept herself. It’s never said outright, but I always had the impression that the mask had magic powers.

    Here’s a scan of the page with the ‘nail-varnish’ scene:…

    I wonder if this is what you remember? Now I wonder if the comic was commissioned by the comic’s editors taking inspiration from an actual novel! And the annual itself is out of print of course, but I know they turn up on eBay pretty often.

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