In a nutshell

  • Genre: Romance, Mystery, Regency
  • Notes: A fun mostly sappy jaunt through a regency era romance between an over-bearing, but caring man and a naive but stubborn princess.
  • Recommended For: Garwood fans, Those looking for a light read and some sap.
When formulas are enough . . . I read this book a long time ago and forgot a lot of it and thought I’d re-read it for this blog. I enjoy Julie Garwood’s easy reads and while she reminds me of Kleypas’ plotlines her writing lacks the spunk and dynamics of Kleypas. Before I get ahead of myself let’s get the basics out-of-the-way. The synopsis is as follows:
Orphaned and besieged, Princess Alesandra knew that only hasty marriage to an Englishman could protect her from the turmoil in her own land. To the amusement of her makeshift guardian, Colin, younger brother of the Marquess of Cainewood, the bold raven-haired beauty instantly captivated London society. But when Alesandra was nearly abducted by her unscrupulous countrymen, the fighting instincts that won Colin a knighthood for valor were kindled. Deceiving himself that he wanted only to protect her, Colin swept her into a union meant to be a marriage in name alone…yet Alesandra’s tender first kiss and hesitant caress ignited a wildfire in his soul. As the lovely princess dashed headlong into unforeseen dangers, Colin would follow, knowing he must claim her as his own forever. Now he would risk life itself before he would lose this sweet, tempestuous angel…
Things I enjoyed about this book:
  1. The mystery regarding the murderer who you get little snippets of his inner monologue continuously throughout the novel. I can honestly say I didn’t guess who it was until the end.
  2. I thought Alesandra’s sense of humor was good. The ways she gets around Colin while staying true to her promises was very cute.
  3. I liked that Alesandra found ways to utilize her ability with numbers and was shown to be intelligent, if at times common sense stupid.
Things I got tired of in this book:
  1. I found it obnoxious after a while when something would happen or something would be said and Garwood would take the time to explain what that meant. The first time was annoying the 10th time it felt like she thought I couldn’t read sub-text. Hel-lo we got it.
  2. While in romance novels (especially set in Regency times) I realize the men are more domineering and that women had/have fewer rights and little say. I also acknowledge that sometimes in these books its sexy when the man takes charge. But there is also a point where you go from in charge to controlling and Colin had moments where I wanted Sassy Gay Friend to come and let Alesandra know what’s what.
    1. For example, at one point Alesandra is coming down the steps wearing a necklace and  “[Colin] didn’t like the idea of Alesandra wearing it. ‘I have a special fondness for this necklace,’ she remarked once they were settled inside the carriage and on their way to the ball. ‘But I can tell from your frown you don’t care for it. Why is that, Colin?’ ‘Why do you like it?’ Her fingertips brushed the necklace. ‘Because it belonged to my mother. Whenever I wear it, I’m reminded of her. The necklace was a gift to her from my father.’ Colin’s attitude immediately softened. ‘Then you should wear it.’ ‘But why did it displease you? I saw the way you frowned when you first noticed it.’ He shrugged. ‘I was displeased because I didn’t buy it for you.’ She didn’t know what to make of that remark.” I do. In the words of SGF, “Tina Turner? We need to private dance it outta here!”
I don’t want people to think I hated this book or that Colin was an abusive character. I just found that it hit one note for the majority of the novel and between the controlling Colin and the pedantic narrative I got tired half-way through and only finished it because I couldn’t remember the murderer. But Garwood has a system where she takes damsels in distress puts them with men-in-charge who have a vulnerability and makes a happy-ever-after with some sap and a litttle danger. It works.
I also acknowledge that I haven’t read this full series so there might be other aspects of this story that I’m missing out on. But I will say if you can’t pull me into reading a series from one novel then the series is damaged, in my opinion.
I wouldn’t go out and buy this book, but it’s a perfect beach read or I’m on the bus and don’t want to make eye-contact read.  Garwood is still a good writer in my opinion and I am going to re-read some of her other novels I remember liking (like her Laird’s Series) so more on that later.