Under Eastern Stars
by Linda Chaikin
Trade Paperback: 378 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: August 1, 1993
Source: Borrowed from the library.
Book Description, my take:
Coral Kendall and her sisters have been summoned home from London because their mother is seriously ill. They arrive in Calcutta, India only to discover that fighting with Burma will make it too dangerous to travel home. But Coral has the medicine her mother needs to get well! (For some unexplained reason, there is no medicine where her mother is and no one thinks to send the medicine ahead using cavalry messengers, who still safely travel the area.)
Jace Buckley is back in uniform as a British officer. His father wants him to discover if the attack really was from Burma or if someone else is causing trouble. Beautiful Coral convinces the dashing Major Buckley not only to look for her missing son Gem but to escort her and her family home while on his way to the outpost he'll be stationed at. On a road already full of hardship and danger, things get even more dangerous--someone wants him dead.
Under Eastern Stars is a historical romance set in 1799 in India. It's the second book in the series. It picked up exactly where the author left off in the previous novel. To follow what's going on, you need to read Silk first.
Unlike the first book, this read like a romance novel: physical admiration, inexplicable attraction, constant rescues of the heroine, etc. But the hero realized he wasn't a good match for Coral. I agree with his choice for her perfect match, yet that character played an ever-dwindling role.
All of the characters felt that Coral was a devout Christian woman, yet I kept forgetting this was even a Christian novel despite the missionary references and periodic conversions. Why? With two exceptions (out of many instances), she wouldn't submit to any authority and didn't even think to trust God to work things out. If she encountered opposition, she forced her will--usually in the name of a noble goal--on everyone else even when it put other people in danger.
For example, she was willing to take a dangerous boat trip to get home. She was given her way even though it endangered those who would escort her, but that wasn't enough. To make sure her choice was seen as valid, she bullied her two sisters into taking the trip even though they didn't want to.
Coral was unrealistically naive. She suspected certain people of lying to her and having evil intent toward her. She even had proof. The hero--who was very clever and had the remarkable ability to always show up in time to save Coral from her foolish behavior--told her to not trust these characters, and suddenly she refused to believe anything bad against them. Huh?
The other characters were realistic and interesting, though. The villians were fairly subtle and cleverly manipulative. There was plenty of historical detail, though some scenes felt like they occurred mainly to provide a lesson on Indian culture. Coral constantly wandered around dangerous areas unescorted, which would never have been allowed. It made me wonder how accurate the rest of the historical detail really was. Still, it was interesting to learn more about how the East India Company worked to spread their power in India and how missionaries started reaching out to the Indians.
There was no bad language or sex. I got very tired of Coral's willful, thoughtless behavior, but it's an interesting and even suspenseful story if you don't mind that.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.