The Secret of the India Orchid

Written by Nancy Campbell Allen
Review by Lauren Miller

In this Regency romance, broken-hearted Sophia Elliot would like to get as far away from Anthony Blake, the Earl of Wilshire, as possible and the exotic, distant land of India sounds like a mesmerizing solution when Blake abandons their friendship for the lures of the Continent. Starting over amidst a company of women also looking for new starts, Sophia has a nose for trouble that gets her involved in solving a suspicious death, locating a missing sea captain, and maintaining the polish of a well-bred young Englishwoman. To Sophia’s surprise and frustration, Blake has also turned up and is inordinately interested in the same recent events. Little does she know that Blake is there as a secret operative for the Crown, and that there may be more lives in danger, including their own.

Veteran writer Nancy Campbell Allen has a dozen titles in her portfolio of works, ranging from contemporary romances to historical fiction. The Secret of the India Orchid is her second title (preceded by My Fair Gentleman) in Shadow Mountain’s Proper Romance series, which feature “clean” historical romances and include authors Julianne Donaldson, Sarah M. Eden, and Josi S. Kilpack. Allen’s newest book is the first, however, to venture to India, drawing in the emigration of single women to British colonial India. Drawing on historical practices and mindsets of the period, Allen depicts a striking contrast in the cultural differences between Britannia and an India struggling to assert herself, centering on a wounded heroine dealing with culture shock, reminiscent in ways of the fictional portrayal of Anna Leonowens. Overall, a sweet, Christian romance with elements of suspense in a dreamily beautiful setting.