Berkley Sensation, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-26567-3
Historical Romance, 2014
Three orphaned princesses of the kingdom of… you know what, feel free to read my review of the previous book in this series, How to Tame Your Duke, to get the back story as I don’t want to make the effort of typing the really long name of a fictitious country. How to Master Your Marquis acts as a standalone story pretty well, but it’s still a perplexing story at the end of the day because it is made up of many things that, at a fundamental level, don’t make sense.
Princess Stefanie Kardashian and her sisters are in London, and as per the plan of spymaster ex machina Duke of Olympia, they are sent – in disguise, as boys – alone and unchaperoned to the care of various individuals across the country. Their enemies are out to get them, so it makes sense, of course, to put these girls in situations out of their league. Oh, and Olympia also wants to match make these girls, his nieces, to guys that he knows are right for them. Even when a kingdom is at stake, there is no time like now for some encouragement for boinking!
Stefanie, curvaceous and beautiful, of course goes undetected for so long, as we all know big-breasted wenches simply exude manliness to fool even the most observant. Our hero James Lambert, the Marquis of Hatherfield, knows that she’s a woman, though, because he’s the destined pee-pee for Steffie. He soon realizes who Steffie is, but can they boink in peace without being bothered by their respective family drama?
This story has me scratching my head from the get go. Displaced from her home and having lost some dear family members, Stefanie still treats the whole thing as an exciting adventure. What, no home, separated from her sisters, potential killers at her heels… what’s there to worry about? Watch as she jumps around acting like she’s in Legally Blonde, turning out to be an accidental genius lawyer even as she pouts and stomps her way ineptly through her disguise. Stefanie has no clue how to behave in any way other than a spoiled princess… which makes me wonder what Olympia is thinking to send her alone out here like this.
She and James don’t seem to be perturbed by the gravity of Stefanie’s predicament. They act like they are mere happy-go-lucky lovers who have only minor obstacles to overcome. Of course, some people would die here and poor James would get into trouble, but even then, Stefanie still behaves like she’s merely suffering a minor inconvenient setback of some sort. When Stefanie does show some strong emotions, it’s often because she’s just being a very emotional and unthinking creature that wants to do whatever she happens to think up of now. It’s a good thing that the author doesn’t let Stefanie run wild like that creature wants to, because then she’d be unbearably obnoxious. As it is, she just acts like a crazy agitated llama now and then, before settling back into her eerie high once again.
That’s the problem of this story in a nutshell: every main character is behaving in a manner that is disconcertingly flippant considering the fact that Stefanie is all alone in this world apart from her sisters, and even then she is separated from them while being on the run from homicidal villains. It is as if the author needed a story to tie up to the previous book, so she grabbed a story from her drawer and changed some minor details to fit that story into the series. Also, the whole girl-becomes-boy thing doesn’t work because the heroine is described as curvaceous and yet, she passes herself off as a guy merely by wearing the right clothes. I know, Clark Kent wore glasses to hide the fact that he’s Superman, but he’s also that guy that wears red panties over his blue tights. Let me know when Stefanie does the same.
The best thing about this story is the author’s descriptive and elegant way with words – the opening chapter is one of the most remarkable things ever – but she can’t coast to the finish line on this alone. This story isn’t camp enough for her to get away with the amount of absurdity in this story, so Ms Gray should consider actually working at making some sense in her next book or just running wild and upping the farce to a level that is so bad, the story becomes so good to read.