Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86501-7
Contemporary Romance, 2017
We return to Grand Serenity Island, a monarchy somewhere in the Caribbeans, and this time, Loving the Princess focuses on our heroine, Samantha DeSaunters who is of course the princess. And like every story involving royalty real or imagined, we have a princess who behaves more like a hapless little girl than an adult. Her brothers may wag it out and wiggle it all around because men are hot when they are hos, but our heroine has self-imposed rigid codes of moral behavior because we romance readers stone these harlots for daring to twerk all around town.
Hence, the entire bizarre premise. In the previous book, something happened towards the end that made it very clear that some people are out to kill the royal family. They even had two main suspects in jail. But here, Samantha is allowed to wander around going all “La di da, I’m a sweet virtuous princess!” as if there was nothing amiss even as these people all talk about the plot on the royal family at the same time. Our hero Garrison Montgomery is the bodyguard to protect her, but he’s doing this as a favor to a friend. Oh, and he’s only one guy. Given that I have no indication that the royal coffers are bankrupt or anything, I can only wonder then whether this family is so cheap that they won’t even hire a contingent of bodyguards for themselves.
When the story opens, Sam is being harassed by an unpleasant boor who also happens to be a high-ranking officer in the country. Instead of snapping her fingers and have him thrown into the dungeon, she has endured his attentions all this while until she has a bright idea. She will kiss a stranger – Garrison, naturally – to make him go away! As you can guess, it only makes that man more determined to force himself on her, but that’s for later. At that moment, that man sics the guards on Garrison for “assaulting” the princess.
Instead of saying no, she is free to kiss whomever she chooses, but those employees can go bug off , Sam remains useless and Garrison has to initiate this deception that he is actually her long-distance boyfriend who has dropped by for a visit. And that’s okay to everyone else, who doesn’t bother to check the guest list or anything, because hey, why not. No wonder the villains managed to get as far as they did in the previous book – these people are all twits and this island is begging for a foreign invasion.
Because a woman kissing a man is apparently equivalent to a ring on the finger, Garrison and Sam are soon the rage of the year. That or the people here are so bored that they would take any kind of diversion, I suppose. This fake courtship is great, because it allows Garrison to stay close to Sam and protect her, and I’m sure you can guess where this whole thing leads to.
Everything about Sam is perfectly encapsulated in this lovely scene.
Sam sighed once more. “All right, Morty. You win, I’m not smart. Okay, run along and tell the world that I’m a stupid, pretty princess,” she quipped and made the mistake of turning her back to him.
See? Even the author admits that Sam is indeed a stupid, pretty princess. She is inviting me to laugh at that idiot heroine.
Oh, and how about Sam’s father being furious that Garrison killed the man threatening his daughter in his house – he’s furious about having to clean up, mind you, not over the fact that someone dared to want to harm his daughter. Is the author telling me that Sam’s family actually wants her dead? The poor darling isn’t that stupid to embarrass the family that much, surely! At the very least, at least she will pop out pretty babies?
Garrison could have been an appealing character as he’s this loner with an unexpected artistic side – he makes nice things even as he kills people with ease, who is so sexy, ooh. Alas, he has no opportunity to shine here, as this is a story also packed with an idiot princess with very little sense of self-preservation, wooden villains, and equally wooden secondary characters with bizarrely inappropriate reactions to the heroine being in danger. Instead of getting into and enjoying Loving the Princess, I spend more time trying to figure out whether the author was deliberately trying to make her story bizarre in order to serve up some campy bad read, or she had just missed the mark altogether.