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REVIEW: Bold Destiny by Jane Feather

Dear Mrs. Feather,

When I open one of your older books, I know I’m probably going to be treated to something different. Something I probably won’t get from a more recently written novel. “Bold Destiny” doesn’t disappoint.

Kabul, Afghanistan in 1841/42 is definitely not where a British person wanted to be. The conditions were perfectly horrid, the natives were getting restless and the British Army outpost was stuck with high level officers who couldn’t command their way out of a paper bag. For Lieutenant Christopher “Kit” Ralston the terms “hell on earth” and “bored out of his mind” about summed it up.

That is until he met Ayesha. Or rather until Ayesha held him a stiletto point after he interrupted her bath. It was at that point that things began to get intriguing. For Ayesha was obviously a European by birth, spoke English fluently but acted and was treated like a favored one. The favored one of one Akbar Khan to be precise. The same Akbar Khan who was stirring up trouble and would soon lead the people of Kabul and the wild hill tribes of Afghanistan against the British Raj.

After his encounter with Ayesha, which included a night of passion the world weary Kit had never before enjoyed, he couldn’t get her out of his mind and endlessly schemed in his mind how to free this Englishwoman from the powerful Khan who held her as his favorite. But it wasn’t until the uprising began in Kabul that Kit had a way to get Ayesha, or Annabel Spencer as she was known before her abduction at the age of twelve, away from the Khan and into his arms in the besieged British cantonment. Now all he and Annabel have to do is survive the slow starvation of the cantonment, live through the hellish retreat of the British and their
dependents through the snowy Khyber Pass as they are constantly attacked by the Afghans, and evade the wrath and revenge of Akbar Khan before they can begin to deal with trying to ease Annabel back into a British society she hasn’t lived in for eight years and isn’t so sure she even wants to attempt to rejoin. After which they might or might not have their HEA.

True love never runs smooth and for these two it’s more like a wild trip down a rocky cascade. Kit is faced with a woman who probably will never act like a standard British woman he expected to marry. A woman who confounds him, teases him, teaches him and turns his life upside down. While Annabel has to try to find a place for herself in a society which she sees as more restrictive and which she’s spent the last eight years viewing as “the enemy.” She’s neither fish nor fowl and along with Kit is dreadfully aware of the fact that Akbar Khan is toying with them like a cat with a mouse. Can they survive Afghanistan and if they do, do they really have a future together?

You have done a wonderful job with the setting and mood of the book. The history isn’t merely wallpaper and I learned a lot about a war I hadn’t even known existed.

1378_1_b.jpgAyesha/Annabel is a strong woman who is assertive rather than feisty and who can more than carry her own weight. Kit is her equal in honor and sometimes stubbornness. Both stay true to character and the times throughout the book. An added bonus is a villain who has reasons for what he does and who doesn’t foam at the mouth. Plus there are well done secondary characters who advance the plot rather than just fill space. All in all, it’s one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. I’m giving it a conservative A- for now.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

18 Comments

  1. Kristie(J)
    Mar 03, 2007 @ 08:25:51

    Is this a recent reissue? I looked it up at Chapters and came up with nothing but the book sounds absolutely fascinating!

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  2. Jayne
    Mar 03, 2007 @ 08:42:57

    It was first published in 1990 and reissued in 1999 (which has the cover imaged here). This is another of my “I’ve read it before but recently found it while cleaning and decided I’d rather reread than vacuum” books. ;)

    One interesting thing about it is that the hero is NOT the heroine’s “first” if you know what I mean. wink, wink, nudge, nudge

    It does have a lot about war in it (but it’s not gory) and one reviewer at amazon lowballed it because of that.

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  3. Kristie(J)
    Mar 03, 2007 @ 09:12:26

    Jayne: I checked out Amazon.ca after and saw it there. I put in an order. I had to laugh though. The book was a penny. The S&H was $6.49. Which since that’s in Cdn $’s still isn’t a bad price – all things considered.
    And “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” that only makes it even more appealing “wink”. And I saw the low grade because of the war description and my eyes almost fell out of their sockets while rolling. Heavens forbid we wouldn’t want a tad of realism in a historical book that takes place in that part of the world. That would offend our tender sensibilities don’t you know. I thought you would have know that us women can’t handle the tougher things of life.

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  4. Jayne
    Mar 03, 2007 @ 09:19:41

    I guess that reviewer thought she was just going to get the standard “Avonized” romance with wallpaper history. I guess she didn’t realize that the older Avon books have lots of meaty historical detail. To each her own….

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  5. Keishon
    Mar 03, 2007 @ 09:30:28

    I should try this one, thanks Jayne. I remember reading one by Feather that was very boring and I have been put off her work ever since. Have you read anything in her V series? I ask because those are the ones I think I have collected from over the years, especially Virtue?

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  6. Jayne
    Mar 03, 2007 @ 09:36:12

    No, I haven’t read any of the “V” series but have heard that they’re good. I enjoyed her Tudor spy series (even the much despised third novel) but found the last two books in the Bachelor series only average. There’s another book (Reluctant Lady?) which is a Regency smuggling book that was boring to me too. I think she’s definitely an author to get recommendations on individual book titles before glom buying/reading.

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  7. Jennifer
    Mar 03, 2007 @ 10:55:56

    I loved The Far Pavilions, and this sounds similar in theme, so I’ll have to go dig it up.
    Great review! Thanks!

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  8. Janine
    Mar 03, 2007 @ 12:31:33

    I should try this one, thanks Jayne. I remember reading one by Feather that was very boring and I have been put off her work ever since. Have you read anything in her V series? I ask because those are the ones I think I have collected from over the years, especially Virtue?

    It’s been years since I read it but I loved Virtue. I have read four or so Jane Feather books and Virtue was my favorite.

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  9. Miki
    Mar 03, 2007 @ 17:32:25

    Found that older picture on eBay, Jayne.

    http://www.ebay.ph/viItem?ItemId=330092996023#photo

    (Otherwise, can’t discuss the book. Haven’t read any Feather.

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  10. Janine
    Mar 03, 2007 @ 19:30:00

    Here’s a link, Miki.

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  11. Jayne
    Mar 03, 2007 @ 19:39:26

    Miki, thank you! You’re a goddess.

    But anyone interested in bidding on this copy should act fast. After all, it could easily be gnawed by rats. Yeech!

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  12. Miki
    Mar 03, 2007 @ 20:52:48

    Thanks for the hint, Janine.

    But, Jayne, I can’t believe you really prefer that cover! ;)

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  13. Jayne
    Mar 04, 2007 @ 05:46:14

    Yes, I do prefer it. I mean look at it. It makes sense. They’re on an oriental rug about to do the dirty so it makes sense that his shirt is off. She’s wearing period style clothing and not on her knees worshipping at his crotch. He’s not standing outside in a blizzard with a cape whipping in the wind and no shirt on. He’s not bent over a saddle pommel trying to haul her ass up into the saddle…I think it’s a great old Avon cover. The newer one is so….blah. It gives me no hint of what the book might be about. Yeah, it’s more acceptable for public viewing and less likely to provoke comments from non-romance fans but it’s just, ….blah. :)

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  14. Kristie(J)
    Mar 04, 2007 @ 07:22:03

    For it’s time, I kind of prefer the older cover too. It sounds like one of those bold sweeping books so a bold sweeping cover kind of goes along with it. Of course the fact that Avon is using the same style (and despite what some say,almost the exact same cover tody) of cover in 2006 as they did in 1991 when bold and sweeping isn’t how I would describe the majority of their books anymore, shows a decided lack of growth. If that were the cover of a book they put out today, I would loathe it with a passion – as I do many an Avon cover *g*.

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  15. Janine
    Mar 04, 2007 @ 11:36:09

    I wasn’t hinting, just trying to be helpful. But you’re very welcome.

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  16. Tara Marie
    Mar 04, 2007 @ 15:54:40

    I haven’t reread this one in years, I may pull it out. Ms. Feather used to be an autobuy for me. Loved the V series and she has two good May/December romances Vixen and The Accidental Bride.

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  17. Nifty
    Dec 10, 2008 @ 14:46:21

    This book was just reprinted with a new 21st century cover that makes no sense whatsoever. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41FOn4tLwqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_.jpg

    When I saw it at Target I picked it up because it has Jane Feather’s name on the cover…then I flipped to the copyright page and saw that it was from 1990, and that clinched the sale for me. I’m one of those readers who LOVES the history-rich romances from the 90s and deplores today’s “Avonized wallpaper romances.” When I read the reviews at Amazon, I KNEW I would probably enjoy this book. The positive reviews praised the history and detail; the negative reviews decried the history and detail. Ha! I can’t wait to get started on it. Something tells me this is going to be another Feather added to my keeper shelf.

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  18. Jayne
    Dec 10, 2008 @ 17:56:30

    Nifty, thanks for the link to the new cover. Heavens! And I totally agree with you that it makes no sense based on the book inside. “Bold Garter Wearing.” Anyway, I hope you like it.

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