Virgin With Butterflies by Tom Powers is one of six pulp paperback Harlequin reissued to celebrate its 60th anniversary. It is the oddest and least pulp fiction novel of the bunch and a very novel and entertaining read.
Virgin With Butterflies reads like a cross between the Perils of Pauline serial and a forties mystery comedy. The unnamed character, let’s call her Toots, is a cigarette girl at a Chicago nightclub in pre-Pearl Harbor America. One night, she rescues a foreign gentleman from five thugs. Turns out the gentleman is a rich Indian prince named Halla Bandah who is selling off part of the family fortune due to some pact he has with his brother, another Indian prince.
Toots ends up travelling around the world with Halla Bandah after sort of being recruited by the FBI to do so. She is accompanied by her “Aunt Mary”, also an FBI agent, a Japanese gentleman named Bosco, and the prince’s “sweet” (entourage).
Toots, the virgin with butterflies when things get hairy, is an innocent who knows little about the world and English spelling and grammar. The latter could be irritating to some but you quickly get used to Toot’s voice and it is part of the charm of this not really pulp fiction novel.
A whole bunch of stuff happens, a lot of it rather unbelievable in a comic damsel in distress adventure sort of way. This Tom Powers novel is not particularly memorable but it is a fun read you will probably keep around just because of how original and bizarre it is.
The other pulp fiction reissues in the Harlequin Vintage collection are You Never Know With Women, a rather disappointing James Hadley Chase novel; I’ll Bury My Dead, a very good James Hadley Chase mystery; Kiss Your Elbow by Alan Handley; No Nice Girl by Peter Lindsay which is also banal and hard to get through; and Pardon My Body by Dale Bogard.