Be My Prince
The theme of this story is gaining trust after deception on both sides. The book is enjoyable for the most part, but readers will likely look for more romance as the main characters switch from trust/love to distrusting rapidly for extended periods of time.
Lady Alexandra Monroe’s family once ruled Petersbourg but were dethroned and either killed or exiled. She went into hiding and now lives in relative poverty with other family members. Alex is told by her family that she must restore her family’s bloodline back to the throne by marrying Prince Randolph, the current ruler of Petersbourg.
Prince Randolph comes looking for a bride in England’s ballrooms, along with his brother Nicholas and sister Rose. He is aware that every eligible female will try to impress and entice him to marriage. Having been burned by an engagement to a fortune-hunter, he now feels that all means, including deception, to determine the intentions of his shortlisted candidates are valid.
Even as Alex goes about spinning a web of charm and deceit of her own to ensnare the Prince, she finds herself falling for his brother Nicholas. The attraction grows over dances, dinner, and outings. Duty and love war with each other for a short while before she gives into her heart, and decides to run away with Nicholas. However, she is caught at the door by her stepmother who paints a picture of Nicholas’ duplicity based on his earlier womanizing lifestyle, and convinces Alex to place duty first as the judgment of her heart cannot be trusted. The story beyond that is how Alex and her love must overcome deceit and gain trust, while Alex realizes her dream of regaining the throne. The story then moves to the Kingdom of Petersbourg where external threats and plots abound at every corner around the royal family, keeping the main characters and the reader on their toes to find their way to a happy resolution to the story.
As a reader, I enjoyed stepping away from clichéd Regency scenarios into a world where love must be strong and persevering to overcome treachery and trickery on a grand scale. Ms. MacLean did a good job of creating a complex plotline. There are quite a few unexpected twists that keeps the reader turning pages well into the night as characters and situations turn out to be not quite what the reader is initially led to believe. The reasons that Alex and Nicholas both use deception as a means are also believable. I also enjoyed the Royal family aspect, which is well integrated into the story and the lives of the characters, as opposed to the sometimes peripheral royal connection in a story’s background.
There were some minor flaws though. The distrust and estrangement between the main characters was a bit too stretched out for my liking. The focus seemed to be on suspense and twists more than the romance. Also, I prefer main characters who overcome obstacles together, and found it hard to find a connection for a heroine trying to fend for herself in a strange land.
The characters for the sequels in this trilogy are introduced meaningfully, and don’t distract from the plot or the story. I enjoyed this story enough to look forward to reading the other upcoming books in this series.