Spoilers are present in this review
I love bad boy heroes. Unfortunately the hero Dominic is flat, uninteresting, a mere shadow of what Ms Dodd could do with her heroes. Maybe the heroine could carry the story. Princess Laurentia in this book is much better a personality - she is a woman aware of her responsibilities to her country and her people. She is older, more mature, but lonely, wishing for a dangerous rogue to sweep her off her feet amidst the rather boring, dandified men in her court. Wishing for a rogue huh? Join the Club. Too bad Laurentia's common sense fled the moment the author needs some contrived scenes to keep the story going.
Which brings me to the story. Basically the story is simple: someone is trying to kidnap the Princess, Princess gets bodyguard (Dominic, the villian from The Runaway Princess) who has his own agenda, they romp around the island kingdom of Bertinierre, and that's it. Believe me, the story could've been good. It isn't. There are too many illogical loopholes.
Firstly, if I'm King Jerome and I know my daughter is in the danger of getting kidnapped, I certainly will not assign only one bodyguard for my daughter. Especially a man whose background I know nothing about. I will not be doing that with matchmaking intentions in my mind. My daughter's getting kidnapped, for God's sake! I'll triple the security! Cancel all her functions!
But no, Laurentia insists she rides out - with one miserable bodyguard - for functions where she's surrounded by hundreds of potential kidnappers. She breaks away from the crowd for lover trysts with Dominic, a man she barely knows. She does a lot of things that place her alone, vulnerable, making her very stupid as a result and making me wonder if the author is really in need of some action - any action! - to keep the story going.
And on to Dominic's plot motivations. He needs money to support his dear friend Brat (yes, that's the rude girl in The Runaway Princess - why can't she get a real name?) and Brat's baby (no, the baby's not Dominic's). Fine, I'll accept that. Bad boy heroes must have disagreeable schemes, it's their nature. But eventually Dominic realizes that he doesn't want to betray Laurentia. Fine. Next thing I know, he does the honorable thing: betrays her first, then tries to rescue her from his betrayal. I think I'm missing something here, but Dominic is supposed to be unscrupulous, desperate, and never play by rules. So why this sudden urge of 'honor' to his employer, the villain of this story? Well, if he just breaks his word to the villain, there would be no grand climax.
The final nail in the coffin is that Dominic tried to rape the heroine Evangeline in The Runaway Princess. He assaulted her, beat her in that book. In this book we see him chatty with her and her husband. Will a sane woman entertain her previous would-be-rapist and assaulter in her home? With her baby nearby? Will her husband be so cordial to this man? I doubt it. This is the scene that caused me to throw my hands up in the air.
No logic, two lead characters that do really stupid things, and a plot that really drags. When King Jerome finally admitted he'd been a fool and an irresponsible monarch, I actually shouted. "Told you so!"
The only saving grace in this book is, surprisingly, Brat. Her story is painful, poignant, and her redemption was surprisingly tender. Yet she was shoved away eventually for more of Dominic and Laurentia's romp around the isle of Bertinierre. What a disappointment! Surely Ms Dodd can do better than this clunker of a story.
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