In A Singular Hostage and A Beggar at the Gate, Thalassa Ali introduced us to the lush, intriguing world of nineteenth-century British India—and to Mariana Givens, a brave, beautiful Englishwoman. Now, as vengeful Afghan tribesmen close in, Mariana must face the repercussions of her marriage to a Punjabi Muslim, and choose between the people she calls her own—and the life that owns her heart.
Mariana Givens aches to return to the rose-scented city of Lahore, home of Hassan Ali Khan, the Muslim stranger she has come to love, his mystical family, and his prescient little son. But her own reckless behavior has sent her into exile at the British cantonment near Kabul, on the eve of the First Afghan War. There, she embarks on a dangerous double life, pretending to be a proper young Victorian lady while secretly traveling Kabul’s violent, fascinating streets to visit the Sufi seer who possesses the answers she needs.
But the mystic’s help comes with a price, and her family wants her to marry a British officer. As Afghanistan descends into violence and her hopes of rescue fade, Mariana must make a fateful decision: can she abandon her old life and allow herself to be drawn toward her destiny—whatever it may be?
Set in nineteenth-century British India, Thalassa Ali’s dazzling debut, A Singular Hostage, introduced us to Mariana Givens, the Englishwoman who risked everything to save a young Indian orphan from certain death. Now Ali returns to that exotic kingdom beyond the northwestern frontier, where Mariana will come face-to-face with a different destiny.
Two years have passed since Mariana left the walled city of Lahore. But she’s unable to forget its haunting scent of roses or her ill-fated marriage to a native-born husband that has scandalized Calcutta society and made her an outcast among the English. Worse still, she bears the knowledge that she will be forced to give up Saboor—the boy believed to be endowed with magical gifts whose life she risked her own to save.
Now Mariana must revisit Lahore to return Saboor to his family and request a divorce from Hassan Ali Khan. But how can she say good-bye to the enigmatic man whose love defied two cultures—or the child she’s loved as her own? As political and civil strife threaten to erupt in violence, she seeks answers in a world no Englishwoman has ever seen. And she’s driven ever closer to a secret so powerful that it will change her life—and the lives of those she loves—forever.
In a land of exotic splendor, a young Englishwoman finds herself guardian of an orphan child believed by a dying maharajah to be endowed with magical gifts. It is a role that will take her on a perilous journey into a kingdom’s walled city to protect a child she doesn’t know from a culture she doesn’t understand…
A Singular Hostage
The year is 1838. Mariana Givens, a spirited young woman of twenty, has been sent to India to find a suitable husband. Traveling as a translator, she joins the entourage of Lord Auckland, the British Governor-General, as he journeys across India with an army ten thousand strong to meet the fabled Ranjit Singh, Maharajah of the Punjab.
Eager young officers compete for Mariana’s favor, but it is with India that she falls in love: the baggage elephants tramping through country vast and wild; the scent of exotic foods at remote campsites; the enigmatic tutor who is her guide to native languages and ways. Lord Auckland must forge an alliance with Ranjit Singh that will deliver Afghanistan into British control, but as he negotiates his crucial treaty, Mariana is drawn into a perilous conspiracy surrounding the one-eyed Maharajah’s baby hostage–a child of mystical repute named Saboor.