A Worthy sequel to Olivia and Jai, although it’s heavier on the history and lighter on the romance
The Veil of Illusion begins about 13 years after the Sepoy Rebellion and the massacre at Bibighar when Jai Raventhorne was accused of participating in and presumably hanged (or was he?) for his crimes. Olivia mourns her beloved Jai (this is not a spoiler, it’s on the book jacket) and she has struggled over the years to prove his innocence. Their children Amos and Maya bear the burdens of mixed parentage and stigma of their father’s alleged heinous activities. Maya meets and falls in love with a high born Englishman, Christian Pendlebury, much to the chagrin of his parents newly arrived from England. Also involved in Maya and Amos’ life is the mysterious Eurasian Kyle Hawkesworth who prints a local paper and also has a very hidden agenda (and a BIG secret) in respects to Christian’s father Lord Jasper.
This is a story that is very difficult to put into words, and is very different from Olivia and Jai. There are no star crossed lovers that keep you turning the page well into the night waiting for the next surprise, the first half of the book is actually taken up with setting up the story and providing the flash backs into what happened prior to the Mutiny.
What this book is about is the plight of the Eurasians in colonial India, whether they are poor and base born or independently wealthy as the Raventhorne’s are. Not accepted by either the British community or the Indians, theirs is a life lived in constant shadow and insecurity. The author uses several interesting methods with her characters to keep this theme at the forefront of her story, from Olivia’s support of a home for women, to Amos and Kyle’s interest in setting up a school for the lesser born Eurasian children, Christopher’s idealistic dreams of what he can accomplish during his public service in India, and the most heartbreaking of all when Maya is rejected by a member of an Indian family she’s known since childhood.
As stated earlier, this is not a romance with star crossed lovers and a HEA ending for all, and if that’s what you are expecting I recommend you stop and just savor the ending from Olivia and Jai and keep that in your memories forever. However, if like me you need to read the rest of the story and enjoy a novel heavy on the history and setting of 19C India and the British Raj along with an eye opening look at the prejudices of the time against the Eurasian population it’s well worth your time searching this one out. Ryman was born and raised in India and her knowledge and love of the culture shine through making for a well written and well rounded journey to another place and time, and isn’t that what historical fiction is all about?