Gaunt and wearing an eye patch, Major Ian Cameron returns to India after being freed from horrendous captivity in Central Asia. Thoughts of his beautiful fiancée helped him survive his imprisonment, but much can happen when a man has supposedly been dead for two years, and his return brings him face to face with how much he has lost.
An unexpected inheritance gives him the opportunity to return home to Scotland and begin a new life. First, though, he must fulfill the dying wish of the Russian officer who had shared his captivity by delivering the colonel’s journal to his niece, Larissa Alexandrovna Karelian.
The daughter of tempestuous Russian aristocrats, Laura Stephenson loved her quiet English stepfather and was happy to follow him to India as companion and hostess. His death leaves her adrift—until a handsome, haunted Scot appears to deliver her uncle’s journal.
Startled to find a grown woman rather than a little girl, Ian quickly realizes that Laura is uniquely qualified to be his wife in an unconventional marriage. She accepts his offer and together they begin the long journey home to Britain with a side trip to the mountains to retrieve the belongings her uncle left with a friendly maharajah. In the process, they are swept into an adventure that threatens the future of India, and brings them together with a love and passion that is more than either of them had dared dream of.
Reviews for Veils of Silk
“Veils of Silk is terrific. Haunting. Wonderful characterization and a true sense that something is really at stake. First-rate work.” –Susan Elizabeth Phillips, author of Breathing Room
“Like Laura and Ian, you will be drawn into a dangerous web of intrigue and desire. Ms. Putney has written not only a stunning romance, but a love story that explores her characters’ psychological makeup and how they change through love….A mesmerizing, exotic romance.” –Romantic Times
“One of the most sensual stories I have read in quite a while….I couldn’t put the book down!” —Affaire de Coeur
Ian Cameron has delivered her uncle’s journal to Laura Stephenson, born Larissa Alexandrovna Karelian, and finds himself charmed by the young woman’s kindness, beauty, and good sense. Though he had thought marriage impossible, Laura is uniquely suited to be his wife. This scene is when he has proposed to her in the ruins of an Indian temple to Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of fortune. Slightly edited for length.)
If I had common sense,” Laura said tartly, “I would not be considering your proposal.”
“Then I must hope that sometimes you’ll have sense, and other times you’ll have none at all.” Ian sighed. “As I said earlier, I want to be honest with you, Laura. I can provide for you in a material sense, but I’ve changed for the worse in more ways than one. Though I used to have an amiable disposition, I’ve been living in a black fog for months. On a bad day it takes every shred of will I have to just get out of bed, and the good days aren’t much better. Sometimes I feel like a dried husk that will blow away in the next strong wind.”
She considered his words calmly, her slanted golden eyes thoughtful, then said simply, “Melancholia.”
Startled, he said, “I’ve never been melancholic.”
“You were never imprisoned and tortured before, either,” she pointed out. “Melancholia is not uncommon, you know. My father’s father suffered from terrible spells of it. He would stay in bed for days on end. When he did get up, he drifted about like a body searching for its lost soul. But always the darkness passed, and then no one could match his high spirits. In your case, the melancholy was surely brought on by your experiences. When it lifts, you may never suffer from it again.”
Ian thought about that. Both Juliet and David had counseled patience, saying that things would improve. Laura went one step further; by matter-of-factly naming his condition, she had made it easier to understand. Perhaps he wasn’t uniquely cursed. “I hope you’re right. But if you are and I improve much in the future, I might become very different from the man you would be marrying.”
“Everyone changes with time, Ian. I like you very well the way you are—if you learn to laugh again, I think I would like you even better. So much for melancholia.” She made a dismissive gesture with her hand. “Are you an agreeable man?”
Startled by her abrupt change of direction, he said cautiously, “Probably not. How do you define agreeable?”
“In the literal sense of being willing to accommodate the wishes of others,” she explained. “My mother once said that the most comfortable marriages are between two people who are both easygoing, who do not always insist on having their own way. When two such people do disagree about what to do, the one who cares most about the result will get his or her way, and the other accepts it good-naturedly.”
Intrigued, he said, “Your mother sounds like a wise woman. But what if there is a difference of opinion and both parties care greatly about how the issue is decided?”
“Then they fight,” she said, eyes twinkling. “But I am an agreeable person—most of the time—and you seem to be also. I don’t think we would fight often.”
“I think I’m agreeable in the sense you mean, if not always in other ways.”
“Very good.” She cocked her head to one side. “Do you have any other dark secrets to reveal?”
“One more, and this may be the worst,” he said with wry humor. “The lords of Falkirk were border bandits for centuries, so the family seat is built for defense, not comfort. It’s one of those frightful medieval castles with twelve-foot thick walls, smoking chimneys, and ancient weapons lurking in dark corners.”
“Ghosts?” she said hopefully.
“Three or four, but they’re a harmless lot. Far worse are the drafts. When the wind blows from the North Sea, it could freeze the ears off a stone elephant.”
“You should not say such a thing in front of our friend Ganesha,” she said with mock reproval.
“And don’t think you can frighten a Russian with tales of cold. Compared to St. Petersburg, your Falkirk will seem like Calcutta. We Russkis are very good at creating warmth in a frozen land.”
Though her words were teasing, they were also absolutely true, for Laura had already created warmth in Ian’s frozen heart. “I think I’ve covered the worst of my dark secrets,” he said. “Do you have any to confess?”
Her levity faded and she glanced away, her absent gaze falling on the bas relief next to her. “I haven’t your ability to be honest about things that are deeply painful, Ian. That isn’t a dark secret, but it certainly is a flaw in my character.”
“If that’s your worst failing, I’ll be a lucky man.” He smiled a little. “Are you ready to make a decision, or will you need more time?”
Laura reached out and rubbed Ganesha’s round, jolly belly with her palm. Ganesha, the happy god, who removed obstacles from the paths of mortals. “Laura Stephenson is a calm, rational Englishwoman who thinks that what you are proposing is mad,” she said slowly. “But Larissa Alexandrovna is a demented Russian, and she says I should grab this opportunity with both hands, for I’ll never have another like it.”
Hope welling in his heart, he rose to his feet and walked toward her. “Then by all means remember that you are Russian.”
Laura turned from Ganesha to look at him. “What was your father’s Christian name?”
“The same as your father’s—Alexander.” He stopped directly in front of her, close enough to touch but restraining the impulse to do so. The last thing he wanted to do was to alarm her now.
She took a deep breath. “Very well, Ivan Alexandrovich, I accept.”
Reaching out, she grasped both of his hands in hers. “And I hope to heaven that we don’t both live to regret this!”