The Star Princess
The Star Princess is an excellent romance, the relationship between the hero and heroine a delightful sparring match similar to that of Gable and Colbert’s in the movie It Happened One Night. But when the two are not center-stage, the action flags and attention wanders.
Che Vedla is a prince of the Vash Nadah, an ancient family that holds a prominent place at the ruling table of a large, multi-planet government. He has recently been relieved of his title as Crown Prince by Ian Hamilton (see The Star Prince), an Earth man, who is the stepson of the King of Kings (see The Star King) who rules over all eight of the royal families. Even though Ian is also about to marry Che’s former betrothed and has, thus, been robbed twice, he is relieved rather than upset about the situation. When his advisors insist that to save face – an important motivation amongst his people – he marry before Ian, Che agrees. But while the proud, loyal family member sees the political advantages, he also decides to first take a trip to Earth to enjoy the freedom not allowed to him on his home planet. Another motivation is the fact that he’s long been haunted by the image of Ilana Hamilton, Ian’s twin sister.
Even though she is a galactic princess, Ilana is making her own way in the world. She and three of her friends own a small independent film company and, while she is currently working on documentaries, she hopes to move on to bigger projects. Ilana prides herself on always being the one to leave first in romantic commitments, and she holds herself at a distance from any man with whom she is involved. When Che shows up at her door, she thinks he is another assassin (back story told in Ian’s story, The Star Prince), and sprays him with pepper spray. Just minutes after wiping the pepper spray from their eyes, an incredible sexual attraction rears its head, even though their life attitudes are diametrically opposed.
Che comes from a morally and politically conservative family where divorce is unthinkable. Ilana’s parents divorced after her mother found out her pilot father was a serial cheater. She regards sex as something to be shared between two consenting adults, and while he has been trained in the art of sexual pleasure, he will only have sex with “pleasure servers” (courtesans) until he marries. Che is a pilot, Ilana is deathly afraid of flying. They are both believable, well-drawn characters, and their chapters are gripping.
Since it is their story, Che and Ilana are the center of most of the action, and the book moves quickly when they are discovering their respective differences and falling in love despite them. It’s the surrounding stuff that made the book seem a little slow-going at times. A sabatoge subplot (to say more is a spoiler) is not that interesting, and the characters involved are much more two-dimensional than either Che or Ilana. A secondary storyline involving Muffin, first introduced in The Star King, also pales in comparison; while the motivations for the characters involved in this sub-plot are well-detailed, they are also rather formulaic.
Susan Grant has written a couple of great characters in Che and Illana, and a great romance for them. It’s a testament to her skill that, in light of my problems with two sub-plots, I plan on reading the previous books in this series. I recommend The Star Princess to anyone who wants a romance so contemporary it’s futuristic.