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    Review of A SINGULAR HOSTAGE by Thalassa Ali

    Bantam, 2002

    Mariana Givens is sent to India in 1838 to find a husband. Since English officers are plentiful and English women scarce, this shouldn't have been too difficult--even for a less-than-beautiful woman like Mariana. Especially when she is given a job as translator for the Anglo-Indian army that has set off to invade Afghanistan in what became the first Afghan war. But mystic Islamic visions, a hostage baby, and the romance of India sabotage Mariana's simple plans. She has been warned to avoid all contact with the natives but pure humanity--and Mariana's interest in the exotic world she lives in compels her to reach out. In the intolerant world of Anglo-Indian 'society' such curiosity is likely to lead to ostracism--or worse.

    Author Thalassa Ali has captured a feel for India--exotic, beautiful, lush, dangerous. The 'great game' between Imperial Russia and Imperial Britain has recently begun and the English intend to win, beginning with the invasion of Afghanistan. But the Indians have their own agendas and powerful and magical forces are at work. Ali's depiction of Mariana, torn between English society and her interest in India, is convincing and complex. Ali's writing is strong and compelling with a fine sense of adventure.

    A SINGULAR HOSTAGE is the first in a series and does not fully develop Mariana's romance. Still, it clearly establishes the seeds of this romance with both initial attraction and conflict clearly spelled out.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 2/11/03

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