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Book review: British spy leaves woman he loves to track down damaging stolen document in 'The Secret of the India Orchid'

"THE SECRET OF THE INDIA ORCHID," by Nancy Campbell Allen, Shadow Mountain, $15.99, 310 pages (nf)

Romance, intrigue, suspense and espionage come together in Nancy Campbell Allen's novel "The Secret of the India Orchid," which is a 2017 Whitney Award finalist in the historical romance category. The Whitney Awards recognize novels by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sir Anothony Blake is in love and he's determined to become engaged to the woman of his dreams. But on the night he has planned to propose, an unwelcome visitor shares news of a stolen document that derails his plans and sends him on a chase across continents.

Sophia Elliot is crushed when Anthony leaves, claiming that he has enjoyed their friendship immensely, and treating her as nothing more than a sister. She resolves to forget him, but finds it nearly impossible, despite eventual rumors of his amorous escapades in far-off lands. What she doesn't know is that he's really a spy, and the role he is playing is for her own safety.

After two long years, Anthony and Sophia meet again in India, where Anthony has tracked the item he must recover in order to get his old life back. While he hopes to return to Sophia's good graces, even if only as a friend, danger threatens to keep them apart for good. Anthony must find the stolen document, even as the line between friends and enemies becomes blurred, or risk losing the woman he loves.

"The Secret of the India Orchid," part of the A Proper Romance series, is exciting right from the first chapter, and Allen's writing style ensures that readers stay hooked to the very end. The book also has an interesting cultural aspect, as Allen weaves bits of Indian custom and history throughout.

"The Secret of the India Orchid" has no profanity or sexual content, and there is some generally described violence.

Allen is the author of 13 published novels, and won a Utah Best of State award in 2005. She lives with her husband and three children in Ogden.