Veils of Slk by Mary Jo Putney: One Great Victorian Exotic Romance
I'm just about done with this book and it's excellent. For those of us who love exotic settings check this one out. It takes place in India in 1841. The hero has lost an eye and spends part of the book impotent. It's so cool to have a hero who is far from perfect but just scrumptious. I really loved Ian and I think I might be adding him to my list of scarred/imperfect hero favorites. The heroine is also admirable. She's of Russian birth but raised as an Englishwoman and has issues with passion because of her wild and crazy parents. She is the kind of woman a man like Ian needs. She's a true helpmate and a strong woman. They meet when she's trying to protect the camp from a maneating tiger. She almost shoots him in the process. Their relationship develops beautifully as they meet each other's needs. Ian was imprisoned for years and was terribly abused, kept in the dark and starved. His cellmate was Laura's uncle and he asks him to bring his diary which he wrote in his bible. Laura helps Ian to heal from his trauma and Ian helps her to come to terms with her passionate nature. They actually marry because both thinks that they can have a passionless marriage since Ian is incapable and Laura doesn't want passion (although she has a sensual nature that she tries to suppress.) The magic and seduction of India helps Laura to come to terms with who she is. There is a lot about the cultures and religions of India in this book which I thoroughly enjoyed. I am definitely very Christian in my beliefs but it is always interesting to learn about other's beliefs. And India is such a diverse nation with people of so many cultures and beliefs. This is definitely dealt with in this book. This book also gives a different view of the British imperialism that takes place in India. I had a negative view of it overall, but in the book you can see that it had some good aspects. The British rule or Sirkhar actually brought about reforms in areas such as banning child sacrifice and sutee (the ritual burning of widows). They also reformed the tax system that was beggaring the poor because tax barons were taking all their money away. And I also learned that the army was largely composed of native soldiers who were lead by British commanders who were educated in the beliefs and language of their troops. Initially the apartheid system (for lack of a better word) didn't exist. Briton and native blended together and often intermarried and bred freely. But as more British who held prejudiced ideas entered the country, that changed. Never say you cannot learn from romance.
This is a great romance but also has plenty of action. Ian is a serious bad-ass. He's a sharpshooter (you might say how does he do it. Well it's explained. Most marksmen shoot with one eye closed). He's a man after my own heart. I love heroes who can get the job done. And he's a Scot. Sigh!!! They actually have to save India from becoming war-torn when a swell of anti-British sentiment from Afghanistan threatens to push over the border. There are reasons that go into this but too indepth for this blog, and you should read the book to find out. It does involve Laura's uncle. I'll tell you that much. There's even a cool secondary romance between Ian's army sargeant, a Pathan warrior, and a young Indian woman who is saved from sutee when her older husband dies. Ooh there's just too much to go into. You need to read it.
I can't give everything away but if you love exotic books full of action with awesome characters and a deep, wonderful romance, you should definitely check this one out.