The Imperial Orchid

Nicola Italia

Historical Romance
At the end of the Victorian era, Orchid Mania has gripped the wealthy and aristocratic men of England. Collectors are willing to spend a small fortune to obtain the rare flowers from distant lands. Lord Holloway, president of the Royal Horticultural Society in London, has decided to finance an expedition team to Ceylon to capture one of the rarest orchids on earth. Frances Wakefield is an educated woman and a gifted illustrator and has traveled throughout Europe documenting various plants and flowers for the Society. When Lord Holloway handpicks her to travel to Ceylon as a member of the expedition team, she is thrilled. When she lands in Egypt to meet the other team members, she comes face-to-face with Miles St. Clair, Lord Holloway’s son and heir. He is the arrogant, handsome, insufferable man she encountered at several soirees in London and the team’s leader. Frances soon learns the trip to Ceylon is to find a very rare orchid. But someone has been watching Lord Holloway’s expedition team, and treachery is afoot. While the expedition intensifies, so does the growing attraction between Miles and Frances, who must work together if they hope to make it out of Ceylon alive.

This book contains:

  • References to past murder
  • Attempted murder
  • Attempted rape.

Frances is our first main character, she’s a modern woman pushing the boundaries heading towards what we know of today with equal rights for women and the ability to work for ourselves. She excels in her field of work, is financially independent and respected equally by her male counterparts.

Miles St. Clair is a Lord’s son, out of place at home after war and with no direction for his life to take. To help him, his father cuts him off financially and gives him a final choice to turn his life around and become a productive citizen of society.

Frances returns home from a working trip to Switzerland in time to have multiple run ins with Miles and to find out about a new trip being funded by Lord Holloway, the President of the Royal Horticultural Society. Of course she’s interested, but how would it work travelling in a team for an unknown project with a group of men?

Miles is the only part of the expedition team that knows from the start what they’re after, and he knows how dangerous it is. He expected to find trouble along the way, but where it came from was a surprise to them all.

One of my favourite things about Nicola’s books is that the women are forward thinking and expect more from the world even in a period of time when they were nothing more than daughters, sisters, wives and mothers. While most of them are driven to work by necessity, Frances is different in that she’s working because she wants to work.

While I love the working aspect, the action was amazing!

There were jungle searches, midnight rendezvous, secret liaisons, subterfuge and of course, murder subplots. Not to mention the general anxiety caused by a massive monsoon storm!

I wasn’t sure who to trust or believe, even right up until the final moments when it was all revealed. You got little suspicions along the way in such perfectly timed and presented ways that it was impossible to not get hooked in and start playing who-dun-it.

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