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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Format: Mass Market Paperback|Change
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on May 6, 2001
Ian Cameron, the brother of Juliet and the British officer whom Ross and Juliet rescued from the Black Well in Silk and Secrets, has returned to India, barely recovered in body and not at all recovered in spirit from his ordeal. Rushing to find his fiancee and let her know that he's safe, he discovers that she's already married to a friend of his. Feeling betrayed and lost, he intends to resign from the army and return home - especially after he discovers that he is now Baron Falkirk - but first he has a promise to keep. He needs to find Lara Alexandrovna, the niece of Pyotr Andreyovich, the Russian officer who was his fellow prisoner and who died instead of Ian.
Lara, now calling herself Laura, has just watched her stepfather die when Ian finds her. She is alone in the world, and also, he notices, wary of physical contact with men. One legacy of the Black Well, however, is that it has made Ian impotent; so he offers her what he believes will be a safe, affectionate, but passionless marriage. Laura, who likes Ian and feels safe with him, accepts.
Of course, Ian's disability isn't permanent, so at a later stage they have to deal with the consequences, and Laura has to confront her memories and fears. Ian also has his demons, which haunt his nightmares and sometimes make him difficult to live with. Gradually, over a period of a few months and in the course of their journey across India, these two tortured souls heal each other.
But the romantic/emotional plot isn't all there is to this book, which is why I've rated it less than the five stars I normally give Putney. Again, she has a strong dramatic plot - and I generally prefer her books without them - but she's also chosen to locate the book in colonial India. That, for a start, would have put me off buying the book had it been written by anyone other than Putney; as it was, it was difficult for me to empathise with Ian's feelings as far as that part of the plot was concerned, since my sympathies were with those who would prefer to overthrow British rule!
At one stage I did find myself getting somewhat frustrated with the emotional plot, since it seemed as if any time Laura made a step forward Ian would regress a stage, and vice versa! However, in the end that aspect of the book was satisfying.
I did wonder about Ian's mother: after all, she's the woman who was pestering the British Consul in Constantinople for months on end in Silk and Secrets, trying to get someone to find out whether her son was alive or not; and it was she who sent Ross to find Ian. In neither Silk and Secrets nor this book did we see or hear about Ian's reunion with his mother! And what about the British government, which effectively left him to die?
In relation to the series, I was disappointed not to see more of the characters from earlier books in each successive one; all we get is a brief epilogue at the end of each, which isn't enough for characters we've grown fond of. Putney did better in her Fallen Angels series, allowing other characters to reappear in more substantial roles.
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