Tuesday, August 4, 2015

New Review: Mary Jo Putney’s the Silk Trilogy - Worthy Victorian Tales of Adventure and Love in Exotic Locales!

Silk & Shadows
Silk & Secrets
Veils of Silk

How about Persia, Uzbekistan and India for exotic locales? Well, Mary Jo Putney will be my guest tomorrow, talking about her research into the exotic locale of Uzbekistan for her story Silk & Secrets, so I thought to review her Victorian Silk trilogy—all three books—so you can dive into them yourself: Silk and Shadows, Silk and Secrets and Veils of Silk. Here we go...

Silk and Shadows:

The first in the trilogy, Silk and Shadows, while not set in an exotic locale, is an important foundation for the other two stories. Set in England at outset of the Victorian era in 1839, this is the story of Lady Sara St. James, the daughter of the Duke of Haddonfield, and Mikahl Khanauri, an exotic chieftain from the East who has come to London for revenge on Sir Charles Weldon, who coincidentally, is betrothed to Sara.

Mikahl is introduced to London society as Prince Peregrine of Kafiristan by his good friend Ross, Lord Carlisle, Sara’s cousin, and the hero in book 2.

From the very beginning, practical Sara is drawn to Mikahl, as are all the ladies of London. He is mysterious, masculine and very wealthy. She does not love her betrothed, Charles, but thinks he will make a decent husband for a plain girl with a limp (the result of a terrible riding accident she had as a child). Charles, who has a dark side, wants her for her noble lineage and for her dowry. Mikahl thinks she is beautiful and courageous of heart.

As a part of his revenge on Charles, Mikahl seduces Sara so that she is “ruined” in the eyes of her father and her betrothed. Then he offers to marry her, never realizing his heart is involved.

Putney brings us a wonderful set of complex characters and at times their banter had me laughing. And who could not love the mysterious Mikahl who sees beyond the surface to what lies beneath? He recognizes Sara’s pain because he has experienced so much himself. The plot will keep you guessing, knowing both the hero and villain hide secrets as they prepare to unleash their weapons on each other. A worthy tale of redemption, revenge and letting go of the past to embrace the future.

Silk and Secrets:

With book 2, we are off to Central Asia where Sara’s cousin, Lord Ross Carlisle, younger son of the Duke of Windemere, and friend to Mikahl Khanauri (now Connery), seeks adventure.

Though it is set in 1841 in Bokhara, Uzbekistan, it begins in Constantinople where Ross learns that his brother has died and he is now the Marquess of Kilburn, his father’s heir. It is there we discover that Ross has been married for the last twelve years to Juliet Cameron, daughter of a Scottish diplomat. They married young and Juliet left him six months later feeling that she could not handle London Society.

When Juliet’s mother asks Ross to go to Bokhara to find her son, Ian, he agrees, never knowing he will soon find his estranged wife, an adventurer who has won the respect of the Persians where she rules a small kingdom. Ross, a splendid hero everyone seems to love, admires her as she admires him. They seemed perfect for each other and Juliet’s leaving him so long ago is a bit mystifying.

Putney has done much research for this story and she brings the culture of Central Asia to life. The story is rich in historical detail—the sights, sounds, dress and food are vividly portrayed. The scene of the Uzbek equivalent of polo, played with the body of a dead goat, was absolutely thrilling. Lots of action here as we dive into the mystery surrounding Juliet’s missing brother and Ross and Juliet together fight off the bad guys who are trying to kill them. Along the way, their love is rekindled.

Truly an exciting adventure in an exotic locale.

Veils of Silk:

Now we are off to India! The story begins in 1841 as Ian Cameron, the Scottish soldier rescued from the pit of hell in book 2, but left with only one eye, thinks only of returning to his regiment in India and seeing again his fiancé, Georgina. Alas, thinking him dead, she is no longer his.

Discouraged, Ian decides to resign his commission. When he learns he has inherited the title of Lord of Kilkirk, he plans to return to Scotland. But first he must carry out the request of his fellow prisoner, Potyr, a Russian who died, and deliver a Bible/journal to the man’s niece, Larissa Alexandrovna. But “Lara” is now Laura Stevenson, having taken the name of her stepfather who she loves.

Ian comes upon Laura in a crisis in the jungle where a man-eating tiger threatens her camp and her stepfather has just died. Both suffer nightmares from their past and bring each other comfort. Ian believes he cannot perform sexually after his brutal beating in prison and Laura wants no sexual relationship, so when Ian proposes a marriage of convenience, she accepts.

Heading for Bombay, they encounter many adventures and a detour that reveals a plot Pyotr was a part of to spread a fire over India, an upheaval that will see the British gone. Along the way, Ian discovers he is still a man in all ways.

Putney very cleverly inserts passages from Pyotr’s journal that tell Laura much of her new husband and what happened while he was in prison.

A rich tapestry intricately woven that gives you a look at the many faces of India.