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By Thalassa Ali

In A Singular Hostage and A Beggar on the Gate, Thalassa Ali brought us to the plush, interesting international of nineteenth-century British India—and to Mariana Givens, a courageous, attractive Englishwoman. Now, as vengeful Afghan tribesmen shut in, Mariana needs to face the repercussions of her marriage to a Punjabi Muslim, and select among the folk she calls her own—and the existence that owns her heart.

Mariana Givens aches to come to the rose-scented urban of Lahore, domestic of Hassan Ali Khan, the Muslim stranger she has come to like, his mystical kin, and his prescient little son. yet her personal reckless habit has despatched her into exile on the British cantonment close to Kabul, at the eve of the 1st Afghan conflict. There, she embarks on a perilous double lifestyles, pretending to be a formal younger Victorian girl whereas secretly touring Kabul’s violent, attention-grabbing streets to go to the Sufi seer who possesses the solutions she needs.

But the mystic’s support comes with a cost, and her relatives wishes her to marry a British officer. As Afghanistan descends into violence and her hopes of rescue fade, Mariana needs to make a fateful selection: can she abandon her previous lifestyles and make allowance herself to be drawn towards her destiny—whatever it can be?

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Lieutenant Harry Fitzgerald was passing not a hundred feet away, on a gray gelding Mariana recognized from two years earlier. How could she have missed that distinctive uniform with its black, shiny helmet and long, scarlet horsehair plume? How could she have missed Fitzgerald's handsome Roman profile or his strong, stocky body, so different from Hassan's long slim form in its flowing Eastern clothes? Panic overtook her. She looked away, unable to speak. Aunt Claire pinched her leg. ” fluted Lady Macnaghten.

He asked, inclining his head toward the paper on the table. “I have, Munshi Sahib,” she replied, frowning up at him, “but today is not a day for mystic poetry. ” Her dread returned as she told him of her dream. While she spoke, he shifted his gaze to the doorway and looked outside, as if he were imagining the same column of black-clad mourners marching noiselessly past her tent. ” she asked, when she had finished. He looked into her questioning face, his expression unreadable. ” “Please, Munshi Sahib,” she begged.

Charles Mott offered Mariana a longing glance. Aunt Claire beamed with pleasure at such public recognition, then bent toward Mariana as a tall, plain-looking woman strode in, escorted by an army major and followed by a young, sour-faced version of herself. “That is Lady Sale and her daughter, Mrs. Sturt,” Aunt Claire murmured, as the two women were handed to front-row seats. Mariana studied the new arrival's angular profile. No one could have been less like the manicured Lady Macnaghten than the wife of the Hero of Ghazni, with her thin-lipped face and unbecoming gown.

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