Published by Proper Romance on August 1st 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Anthony Blake, the Earl of Wilshire, is in love with his best friend’s sister, Sophia Elliot. But his plans to court her are put on hold when he is forced to resume his role as an undercover spy for the Crown. A secret document listing the names of the entire network of British spies—including his own—has been stolen. To protect Sophia, Anthony cuts off all ties to her and exchanges his life as an honorable earl for the facade of a flirtatious playboy.
Heartbroken and confused, Sophia travels to India, hoping to find healing in one of the most exotic regions of the British Empire. But the exotic land isn’t as restful as she had hoped. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery of a missing sea captain, a possible murder, and a plot that could involve the prince of India. And when Anthony appears at the British Residency, asking questions and keeping his distance from her, she is stunned.
She still loves him, and, in her heart, she knows he loves her too. But how can she rebuild her relationship with him if he won't confide in her? Does she dare offer her heart to him a second time, or will their love be lost under the India sun?
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
The Secret of the India Orchid is a stand alone book by Nancy Campbell Allen. It’s the first book I have read by this author, but definitely won’t be the last.
Anthony Blake is the Earl of Wiltshire and he’s desperately in love with his best friend’s sister, Sophia Elliot. On the cusp of asking for her brother’s approval to officially court Sophia, Anthony is called upon to take up his role as a Spy for the government. The job he needs to do will take him abroad, and would be dangerous. So he writes a letter to Sophia saying goodbye, and thanks for her friendship and sisterly love. She is distraught when she reads it because surely all the things he used to do were subtle courtship. He loved her and she loved him, she was sure of it.
Two years later and unable to forget Anthony, realising that she will never love another man, she decides she needs to leave London and all the memories of him that familiar places bring forth. She sails to India amongst a group of single London women who are going there in order to find a husband from the British men that work for the East India Company. Sophia isn’t looking for a husband though, just a break. She doesn’t know that Anthony is in India too, and is shocked when it is he who helps her alight from her carriage at the home she will be staying in.
From there the story really takes off, not only do we watch as the sparks fly between Anthony and Sophia, both angry and passionate ones. But the very reason that Anthony left England and is now in India rears it’s ugly head when the papers he is searching for are in Sophia’s hosts safe. Before he has time to get to them, the man he is searching for is missing, thought dead after a lot of blood was left in front of the open, now empty safe. The hunt is on to try to find both the murderer, who is bound to now be in possession of the dangerous documents. Can Anthony keep Sophia and the other house guests safe. He knows he will have to confess all to Sophia, how will she take it? They need to join forces, and spending so much time together even in dangerous circumstances sees them re-uniting. It was quite novel to see how their romance blossomed all the while murder and mayhem was afoot.
I really enjoyed this story, the setting in India was wonderful and I loved reading of the Indian culture. There was the nasty side of it, with wives expected to burn to death with their husbands when the latter had died and was to be burned on a funeral pyre. But there was also the fun side of it where we see things like Sophia riding an elephant for the first time, or when she found the perfect toy for a young boy she was fond of. I especially loved the use of flowers including the orchid that Anthony used to communicate with Sophia! The romance rekindling for our main couple was beautiful. Sophia tried so hard to punish Anthony for the way he left her and for saying she was like his sister, but it wasn’t long before she realised that she still loved him the same, if not more than ever before. He had never stopped loving her, so it was with a huge happy sigh that I read that they had made up with a view to eventually marrying. BUT of course before all that could happen they really needed to get those papers back and have the thief apprehended! An adventurous action filled story with just the perfect amount of romance, I definitely recommend it.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced readers’ copy of this book.