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.
Ayesha/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.