Captured Innocence is a princess story with little charm. I read and enjoyed one of Sizemore’s fantasy titles, so I was a bit surprised at how little this book engaged me.
Lady Lily Bancroft grew up living a fairly simple life in the English countryside. Her parents were loving, and she didn’t think much about being a princess of Bororavia. That is, until her father, the abdicated king of Bororavia, died, and her cousin Gregory, the current king, decided to use her to his political advantage. Gregory snatches her from Yorkshire and imprisons her in the Bororavian Embassy, threatening Lily’s mother’s life unless she agrees to marry him.
Kit Fox MacLeod is a spy from a family of spies. All the MacLeods are on England’s bankroll and firmly dedicated to the Crown. Kit’s newest assignment is to prove that Gregory of Bororavia is conspiring with anarchists and is, therefore, a danger to the Empire. To do this, he must acquire certain documents from the Bororavian Embassy. In pursuing his task he encounters Lily and is struck by her beauty. He is drawn to her despite the risk she poses to his duty and despite her status. For Kit was a guttersnipe, a street urchin and thief, before his mother discovered and adopted him. And he knows better than to reach for the impossible: a princess. Or does he?
Sizemore sets up a hopeless situation, a romance between royalty and common blood, and then proceeds to develop it as if the main conflict were no more than trifling. Kit has no problem whatsoever meeting and conducting redezvous with Lily. Many, many times he sneaks into the embassy (security is very loose), and he even manages to snuggle her in public. Kit’s family puts up a token resistance to his feelings for Lily, but there is little acknowledgment of the yawning social chasm between the pair.
It’s easy to forget that Lily is a princess, since she doesn’t act the part. After her father abdicated his throne, he made his home in England and married a progressive, egalitarian type of woman who had little respect for royalty. Consequently, Lily grew up living like a farmer’s daughter in Yorkshire. Still, Lily is a lady even if raised on a Yorkshire farm, and as a lady she would have had some concept of the privileges and obligations of her position, whether as a lady or a princess. Lily seems to think her background and inheritance is something she can decline or get around. She also has a very modern outlook. She is not shocked at the public fondling between Gregory and his long-time mistress, Irenia. What does shock her is the glaring double standard. If he can have his side dish, why can’t she?
On the surface Lily and Kit have nothing in common. Cut through the surface,and you’ll find they still have nothing in common. It’s difficult to understand the deep feelings they have for each other when they know each other so little. Kit is a ladies’ man with a reputation as king of hearts, but he’s never wanted anything more than a casual fling until Lily. But why Lily? He sees her and there’s just something about her…If any other reader figures out just what this something is, please let me know. I haven’t a clue.
The Victorian setting feels less than genuine. In fact, the book has a cartoonish feeling to it, an anything-can-happen atmosphere. Kit comes froma large family filled with annoying characters all of whom have spy talents. Code breaking, theft, potion concocting, you name it, and Kit has a sister, mother or grandmother who can accomplish it. Other characters also have a “if-you-dream-it-you-can-do-it” mentality. Irenia seems to think that by telling Gregory he must marry her, he will indeed make her his queen. And no one makes a move to slap her into reality. The characters’ language does not lend authenticity to the setting. Modern slang crops up a number oftimes.
Finally, the book’s ending is completely unsatisfying. The characters do get their Happily Ever After, but the resolution of the book’s many conflicts is not convincing. The deus ex machina takes care of Gregory, and the class conflict is circumvented in an unbelievable fashion.
I was very disappointed in Captured Innocence, and from now on, I believe I’ll stick to reading Sizemore in her fantasy incarnation.