Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4165-2552-3
Historical Romance, 2008
Now, this is the Jane Feather that I remember. To Wed a Wicked Prince has a hero who is a complete piece of dung paired with a heroine who is capable but at the same time so meek that she is like a sheep led by the noose to the slaughter. If you want to wonder why you even bother to wake up today when you could be staying in bed and enjoying some sweet dream involving a naked hard-bodied young man, this book is the one you read to catalyze such a feeling in you.
A long, long time ago, a Russian prince and an English woman had an affair and produced a child. This intermingling of nations raised the ire of one Catherine of Russia. To prevent trouble, the woman did what every other romance heroine is programmed to do: she offered to leave the man and let him keep their child, reasoning that the child was better off with the father. The man might be in love with her but, I suppose, he loved his position and wealth more, so off he went to Russia. The woman lived the rest of her life alone, a martyr for love, until she died and left the house she lived in to some heir that her lawyers had to scramble to locate.
The kid grew up to become our hero, Prince Alex Prokov, and he claims that he has a distant and cold relationship with his father. I have a good laugh over the fact that the now-dead dumb woman made herself a martyr for no reason. Alex is now in London to claim the house as well as to play some spy games on behalf of his Motherland. However, the house is currently inhabited by Livia Lacey. Alex needs a beau, if not a wife, to give him a reason to socialize with the rest of Ton, so he decides to woo Livia. Naturally, he can’t tell her that he has the power to evict her out of the house – and he won’t, even as he proceeds with plans to have the house reverted back to him behind her back – and he also doesn’t tell her that she is about to become a pawn in his games. It’s not because that he can’t tell her, mind you. Even when he claims to love her, he still proceeds to tighten the noose around her neck until she remains a powerless creature completely dependent on him by the end of the day.
Then again, it’s hard to feel any pity for Livia. She is the one who insists on not caring about Alex’s background when she has the opportunity to have him investigated. She is the one who becomes a completely stupid moron because she’s so deliriously orgasmic by his reptilian touch that she “understands” him even when the dirt from the soles of his boots are still fresh all over her back.
If that is not bile-churning enough, the heroine is actually a pretty smart one when it comes to everything but the hero. She even saves the day here while our incompetent fool wanders around in a daze like a complete dumbass. Her reward for saving him is a high-handed speech telling her to either submit to his will and let him continue spying for Russia or live a life estranged from him. She chooses the former and then it’s the end.
Seriously, there are so many unresolved issues between those two – although I still say that there is nothing a little homicide can’t fix – but the author chooses to rush her story through a painful “action climax” and wrap up the story by portraying “true love” as the heroine agreeing to follow the hero.
So, to sum things up, the heroine discovers within the space of 150 pages or so that the man has done nothing but to screw her, literally and figuratively, until she’s left hanging in the wind, that she barely knows anything about the man she has married, and still she agrees to be his wife because she loves him.
Welcome back, Ms Feather. The romance genre is just about to become too optimistic and fairy-tale like without you going about spreading a little suicidal blues and intense homicidal urges to balance things up.