Princess Julia Sebastiani of the Mediterranean kingdom of Montebello has been threatened. In an attempt to learn more about those who mean Julia harm, the FBI plans to parade a decoy Julia on a highly-publicized tour through the U.S. FBI agent Laurie Lewis, a sweet Nebraska farm girl who happens to look just like Julia, will pose as the princess. Laurie is determined to prove that she can handle FBI field work, in spite of her wholesome image. Her bodyguard on this mission is Hawk Stone, a police officer who left his job due to his grief over the violent death of his partner.
I have a few problems with the plot of this book. In the first place, the Firstborn Sons mini-series seems to be about the sons of some rather extraordinary Vietnam veterans Much is made of the fact that Hawk is the son of Caleb Stone, and that Caleb Stone is some sort of man of action. How it is that Caleb Stone can pull strings with the U.S. government to put his son, an ex-cop from Flagstaff, Arizona, in the middle of an FBI mission of international importance remains a mystery to me. Also, the plot that underlies the love story of Laurie and Hawk involves not one but two fictitious nations and their generations-long feud (brushed over with an idle “not quite as serious as the Israelis and the Palestinians”); and not one but two crown princes who are presumed dead, but whose bodies have not been found. All of this was undoubtedly the brainchild of whoever came up with the mini-series, and not Ms. Wind herself. Nevertheless, my credulity was strained.
In spite of that, as you might expect, Ruth Wind’s excellent character-building saves the day. The sexy, conflicted relationship between Laurie and Hawk more than makes up for my problems with the underlying plot. Laurie is thrilled with the mission. She a good agent longing to test her mettle in the field. Charmingly, too, she is delighted at the opportunity to dress up like a princess. Her pleasure at her new wardrobe, hairstyles, and luxurious private plane is infectious and sympathetic. Hawk is a tormented hero who is struggling with his emotional inability to deal with the tragedies he has endured. For him, the mission and his relationship with Laurie is an opportunity to heal. Wind’s portrayal of the way their feelings grow from mutual attraction to deep caring is nothing short of breathtaking.
I think that Wind’s books are always worth reading. This one, in spite of the rather cumbersome setup necessitated by the mini-series, is no exception.