Jove, $6.99, ISBN 0-515-12768-X
Historical Romance, 2002
The Orchid Hunter has men hunting for orchids all over the globe – not a usual thing one reads in a romance. Too bad the author never actually goes deeper into how these men lead their lives. That would’ve made some fascinating reading. Instead, this turns out to be a same old sort of romance where there’s nothing really new and there’s nothing really bad or outstanding either.
Heroine Joya Penn’s father is an orchid hunter and she is brought up among the tribe members in the island of Matarenga (took me awhile to figure out that this place is somewhere off the continent of Africa). Life is good – the mountain god of Kibatante sleeps peacefully, everyone is happy and content, but somehow Joya feels stifled by her surroundings. She wants to go back to England, where she feels that somehow, her destiny awaits her there.
Destiny comes in the form of orchid hunter Trevor Mandeville. Trevor is looking for a famed orchid species, and when he stumbles upon Joya, he is stunned to see her a dead ringer for his adopter sister Janelle. They realize the truth of her Secret Past and Trevor brings her to London where she is reunited with her long-lost twin sister.
Along the way, of course, they fall in love, gets discovered in a compromising position, and get married, these two. Conflict arises in the form of Trevor. Will that obtuse twit ever see that he should be staying at home baking some buns in wifey’s ovens instead of going to Venezuela to hunt for orchids? Stay tuned.
Oh, and there’s also love for Janelle as well, so don’t worry.
This one has little external conflict, the external conflict being Trevor’s hag mom who has a big secret related to Janelle and Joya, of course. The internal conflicts arise mainly because our virtuous Joya is a complete mush in the hands of everyone. No guile, no ability to think of any solution to her problems apart from running away in tears. Run, Joya, run.
Usually I’ll be irritated with such heroines. Oh, and the hero is obtuse. He does love her, and the author makes me believe that, but really, telling wifey they will make this marriage work even as he packs his bags for Venezuela before the afterglow of the honeymoon dims… that’s a typical thoughtless man for you.
However, the author can tell a story, and she has a nice way of doing that too. I keep reading even though I’m not too enthralled with the somewhat woody characters, and the pay-off isn’t too bad. The Orchid Hunter may not be 100% memorable, but it’s okay at the end of the day.