My One And Only
Every once in a while you come across a book where the hero and heroine are brave and gorgeous but somehow you don’t quite believe in them. That’s the way My One And Only hit me. The hero and heroine should have been compelling but are not, perhaps because neither one is completely convincing.
The story begins in India with a group of British children who have been kidnapped by bandits. Two of the children, eleven-year-old Kitty, and thirteen-year-old Cameron, have become the leaders of the group. In hopes of helping them escape, one of the bandits teaches Kitty and Cameron some of the Rajput secrets of survival. These include things like being able to walk soundlessly and disappear into the darkness of the night. Before Kitty and Cameron can use these tricks, British rescuers surprise the group. Cameron is shot and presumably killed in the melee that follows.
The story resumes in London many years later. Kitty has become a famous aviator and is engaged to Cameron’s brother. Unbeknownst to her fans, Kitty is in search of a rare jewel, The Blood of India, which she needs to have her father freed from an Indian prison. To obtain the jewel, she has become a cat burglar. Another cat burglar, known as the Tiger, has also been invading homes and Kitty is happy to know that the Tiger is blamed for her thefts. One night, Kitty meets the Tiger while breaking into a bedroom. He mesmerizes her and she does not object to his passionate kiss.
Later Kitty recognizes the Tiger at a party. He is the sophisticated Italian, Count Max Aveli. To make a long story short (and this should come as a surprise to no one) she begins to suspect that he is the lost Cameron. He steadfastly denies this. Of course this doesn’t stop him from pursuing her and the two make love in an airplane hanger. The rest of the book, which takes place in London and in India, surrounds their efforts to capture the rare jewel and Kitty’s efforts to get Max to own up to who he is.
Part of the problem with this book is that once Kitty and Cameron grow up they are far less interesting than they were as children. As a boy, Cameron is brave and resourceful, unselfish and willing to sacrifice his very life for Kitty and the kidnapped children. When he speaks to Kitty, there is warmth and affection. Kitty is also brave and devoted to Cameron.
When next we see these two, they are a couple of jewel thieves who bicker constantly. In the love scene in the hanger, Kitty and Max are virtual strangers and rather hostile ones at that. Later, Kitty and Max travel to India and, even though they do not endure long separations, there are few conversations. They have an ocean voyage together where they do not speak and a train trip during which the same thing happens. It’s as though Kathleen O’Neal couldn’t think of what these two would talk about. For the first two hundred pages they mostly argue, and that gets pretty tiresome.
My One And Only improves in the last hundred pages and I enjoyed the final third when the couple work together and start speaking to one another. The finale, which includes a daring escape, describes a pretty implausable getaway. To describe it in detail would constitute a spoiler but I was groaning all through it.
Outside of the last third of the book, this story is also somewhat entertaining when Kitty and Cameron are having sex. One word of caution though, this is a book where the hero uses the “F” word and the “P” word. For some reason it didn’t bother me (it usually does) but if you do not like that kind of thing, be warned.
My One And Only is not really bad, it is just not terribly interesting. In spite of my reservations though, readers who enjoy a turn-of-the-century setting, lots of action, and India may enjoy it.