THE SECRET OF THE INDIA ORCHID, by Nancy Campbell Allen, Shadow Mountain, Aug. 1, 2017, Softcover, $15.99 (young adult/new adult)
The Secret of the India Orchid is the newest offering in Shadow Mountain’s Proper Romance line. As such, it’s a little bit predictable, but if you enjoy a clean romance, you won’t mind one bit.
What does differentiates this novel from others in the series is its setting — India. The Secret of the India Orchid opens in England as Anthony Blake prepares to court his best friend’s sister, Sophia Elliot. But before he can even ask the question, he’s forced to leave the country.
Prior to his current life as the new Earl of Wilshire, Anthony was in the service of the Crown working as an undercover spy. Now, a secret document listing the names of the entire network of British spies — including his own — has been stolen, and Anthony has been tasked with tracking the document down. So Anthony breaks things off with Sophia, allowing her to think the worst of him while keeping her safe at the same time.
Anthony’s sudden rejection hits Sophia like a million continuous slaps to the face. He was so attentive and now he’s gallivanting about the empire and acting very much the flirtatious playboy. With nothing and no one holding her down, Sophia decides to travel to India. The exotic land may be just what she needs to finally heal.
The minute she arrives, however, Sophia finds herself once again face-to-face with Anthony. Not only that, but a sea captain has gone missing — possibly murdered — someone is terrorizing a young boy and it seems she may be the next target. Sophia still loves Anthony, and she can tell there’s still a spark inside him as well. Somehow, everything is connected, and Sophia’s not going to leave India until she has the answers once and for all.
Spoiler alert! If you guessed Anthony and Sophia end up together in the end — ding, ding, ding, you’re a winner! This should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever read a book in the series; it’s kind of the formula each one follows. That should not, however, deter you from reading The Secret of the India Orchid.
Author Nancy Campbell Allen’s writing is like you’re favorite pair of socks — comfortable and warm with a few snags here and there.
The author does a fine job transporting readers to an exotic and unknown land. And for the most part, it’s a beautiful place. There’s little talk of the slums here, but the majority of the British upper crust would never have reason to be exposed to that. There are a few questionable customs that do help drive the story forward.
At times, both Anthony and Sophia felt a little one-note, and I couldn’t help but wonder if Allen’s treatment was how people of the time actually acted or if that’s how she perceived they would act. Either way, I found myself wishing for some more authentic moments.
The Secret of the India Orchid is a fast, easy and clean read. The multiple mysteries throughout keep the action moving forward and add a nice balance to the romance elements. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite book from the Proper Romance series, but it certainly isn’t the worst, either. It’s a decent read, particularly for fans of this genre.
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