The Secret of the India Orchid
by Nancy Campbell Allen
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
My Rating: 2/5 stars
Synopsis: Anthony Blake 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 façade 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? (Goodreads)
*I do mention a few events in the book in minor detail. I tried not to spoil anything but needed to give a little backing to my arguments. So this is ALMOST spoiler-free.
**Also, I debated a while over whether or not to post a review. I hate to say anything negative about a book. Authors put a lot of literal blood, sweat, and tears into a book and I feel unkind to say anything negative about it. BUT, in an effort to review all the books I read, I needed to post about this. Additionally, I want you to trust that I won’t sugar coat a book if I didn’t like it. So, here it goes.
Let me start by saying that I have read almost all of the Proper Romance line. Edenbrooke is my favorite. Romance is my favorite genre. I am part of RWA and YARWA and study writing. So, other than the spelling errors and bits here and there, this is what really bothered me about the book.
I would not describe it as a romance. The story is not character based but rather plot based. Also, the romance story line wraps up about the 60% mark when they finally kiss. Yes there are a few parts lingering (he hadn’t proposed yet) but there was nothing relationship based that was an obstacle… unless you count the fact that they were all in danger because of the Janus Document. But that was not a particular strain between them, rather it affected many people.
Second, I felt like a few of the events were just there to be there. Especially towards the end. If the Seadon family arriving was supposed to be an obstacle between Sophia and Anthony, it should have been more of an obstacle instead of just a “I’m jealous, maybe he really is a philanderer.” and his assurance that Miss Seadon means nothing. Too simple. There are more but I’ll spare them to keep this mostly spoiler-free.
A lot of the story felt told rather than shown. And told multiple times. Often I read something and thought I already knew that. She didn’t need to tell me again.
Lastly, I didn’t feel like there was an “all is lost moment.” There wasn’t a moment around the 3/4 mark where Sophia or Anthony truly felt alone, or secluded, or helpless. There wasn’t a moment or realization where they figured out they could solve this and be happy. There wasn’t a real struggle, or even a real climactic moment for me. We knew who the murderer was and when Charity found out it was supposed to be this AHH moment but it felt lackluster. Almost like the climax was given to us in bits and pieces so that when we actually reached the climactic moment it wasn’t there.
The story is cute. I read it in 2 sittings. But it didn’t draw me in like a romance.