The Perfect Princess
by Elizabeth Thornton, historical (2001)
Bantam, $6.50, ISBN 0-553-58123-6

Lady Rosamund Devere - remember, she's intelligent - decides to follow her "feisty" best friend Callie to visit the prisoner Richard Maitland (out of curiosity), even when there are news that there is a mob probably heading towards the prison too. Callie suggests that they take Rosamund's carriage (it comes with armed men) but Rosamund isn't sure. What will her father think when his carriage is ruined?

Please, please, please, PLEASE I beg Ms Thornton, I know she can write, but what's with all those braindead heroines? And why is the author calling these braindead women "intelligent"?

Anyway, anyone surprised when Richard Maitland, an ex-chief of the Secret Services and armed forces who is also trying to clear his name, escapes with the help of his friend Harper and takes Rosamund as a hostage in the process?

From hereon, Rosamund, who early on shows some promise despite being as dumb as a doorknob (typical doorknob behavior: she tries to flee from Richard by heading straight into a mob), immediately degenerates into a pouting bratty Daddy's Little Girl who complains about the dirt and all. "I hate you!" or "I don't trust you" breaks the monotony of the Brat Antics of dear Rosamund. Richard, being a man, has the privilege of being a more well-rounded character, with some baggages about Honor and Responsibility as befits his status as a Grown-up. Rosamund... shudder. Whenever she thinks of Richard, it's all in superficial terms. He looks good in those pants. He smiles pretty. He touches her pretty. What about character? Why would a woman fall in love with a man she is complaining and whining about all the time? Why would Rosamund return to Richard when she has the chance to flee? If I am to scrutinize Rosamund's emotional growth closely for an answer, I'd say it's all because the guy is cute.

Richard is an adult. Rosamund may be technically an adult but she babbles and behaves like an overly ardent prepubescent reader of Seventeen. Put a tortured hero and a girly woman in the same book, and all that's good gets negated by all that's irritating.

Still, nice story for people who can overlook the girly love thing. The suspense is well-handled, although I can't say the same for secondary characters, and the whole story is readable and skilfully plotted. It's just that the love thing lacks any mature or credible development. It's a girly love thing, and I say yucks to that.

Rating: 76

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