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Bold Destiny

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  • Posted January 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The cover art on an updated edition gives the impression that Bold Destiny is a tale of banal boudoir seduction and does no service whatsoever to the book's serious setting of war.

    It's 1833 and the Brits are in Afghanistan, secure in their superiority over the heathens. The central character, Annabelle Spencer, straddles two cultures: the English one she vaguely remembers and her formative years under the strong influence of Islam. A strong-willed 9-year-old when her parents were killed during a raid in an Afghan mountain pass she was brought as a prize to Akbar Khan, powerful and cunning tribal chief. He raised and educated her in the world of Islam. Renamed Ayesha, at 20 she is obedient, intelligent, multilingual, taught to hate the feringee, and trained to give pleasure to the Khan. Destiny begins when Lt. Christopher (Kit) Ralston, on patrol to negotiate with Akbar Khan, comes upon a beautiful bathing woman who is obviously not Afghani. The danger of this trespass is exacerbated by a mistaken whim of the Khan to gift Ayesha to Kit for a night; he thought to humiliate the Brit but instead the couple is profoundly shaken by what passes between them. Annabell-Ayesha becomes torn between the two worlds, but sends Kit away. Destiny becomes bold indeed when Kit seizes an opportunity during a skirmish to remove her from Akbar's quarters to his. Akbar wants her back at all costs, and he successfully fans the flames of the tribes who set out to destroy the intruders. The harsh country, the harsh lives of the Afghans and the slaughter of British forces led by sappy officers is well drawn. But too many steamy moments detract from the horrors of war that continue to this day. Disappointing.

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