by Gaelen Foley, historical (2000)
Ivy, $6.50, ISBN 0-449-00635-2
I have enjoyed this author's previous two books set in the mythical kingdom of Ascension, but Prince Charming, the latest, is really the crowning glory to an already fabulous series. And it has a hero who must be the reason why they make chastity belts. Yummy. Dark, dangerous, and a true rogue, Prince Rafael de Fiore, has undergone a metamorphosis from the impressionable young man in Princess into a man of all women dream about and warn their daughters away from. Yummy yum yum.
Rafi, as he is known to his buddies, is bored with his dalliances. When he is robbed by the Masked Rider, he's not that unhappy. So, this Masked Sissy fancies himself Robin Hood, eh? Not if Rafi has his way. He and his buddies chase the Masked Rider, intending to do some heavy-duty medieval kick-ass on that scum's butt, only to lose that fellow in Lady Daniela Chiaramonte's estate.
Needless to say, Rafi starts having a different sort of heavy-duty medieval fantasies altogether. He courts her, with the rogue intention of making her his mistress (you know he's gonna get it, heh heh), and Dani demurs.
Until he discovers that she is the Masked Rider.
Dani and Rafi sounds a little too cute together if you ask me, but that's okay. I love Prince Charming, whose charms lay 90% with that lovable rogue. Rafi may be bad and nasty, but deep inside there is still some humanity and chivalry that rekindle after Dani gets entangled in some royal court intrigue. And nothing beats a bad, bad, really bad boy with a heart. With kd lang's sensual vocals playing on the stereo, I find it really easy to fall under Rafi's spell (even if he's called Rafi). Charming and charismatic, sensual and capable of devotion, Rafi is one of the best scoundrels I've read in a romance who manages to captivate me completely.
It would be a shame then if Dani (really, I hope their children wouldn't be called Mini or Tini) couldn't measure up, but she does. Not exactly as memorable as Rafi, for Dani is the unfortunate victim to the school of thought that all heroines need a credible (virtuous) reason to function (compared to the men who can rut and drink for all they want) and hence has to find a really good reason to loosen up. Hence she's the stereotypical do-gooder woman. Boring. But she's not bad - she manages to hold her own with Rafi when it comes to making that rogue beg (you know what I mean). She is also capable and competent in her Robin Hood aspirations, which raises her in my esteem. No simpering and incompetent brainless floozy here. Her name's Daniela Chiaramonte, and she is going to slay Rafi's heart. Rafi, prepare to eat Cupid's arrow.
And the story has a nice theme of loyalty and duty prevalent in all Ms Foley's Ascension stories. And Rafi's inner turmoil when faced with Dani is really wonderful. He should kill her - his honor dictates it - but he also is nuts about her. And given access into this man's increasing obsession about Dani only makes me even fonder of this man. Yes, he's capable of devotion and love, and yes, I believe he deserves it.
One minor complain though: the sugar level and coming-off-as-contrived smoochie koochie love-reaffirmation scenes towards the last quarter of Prince Charming should be toned down. This reader is at an age where diabetes is always knocking at the door.
Still, all in all, Prince Charming gets a solid 88.
This book at Amazon.com
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