My Dark Prince
We have all had the experience of reading a book that starts out promising but falls apart toward the middle. My Dark Prince was just the opposite. As I read the first several chapters, my reaction went something like this: “What the…what the heck is going on??! Gad – no one talks like that!”
But I kept on reading – My Dark Prince has cover blurbs from Mary Balogh and Jo Beverley, two writers I highly respect. Very soon the confusion cleared up, the style of writing smoothed out and I became gripped by the story and mesmerized by the characters. Lovers of tortured heros and intense stories will take this one to their hearts.
Nicholas is the Earl of Evanlode and, through his mother, the Sovereign Prince and Grand Duke of Glarien – and imaginary country near the Alps. Glarien has a geographical and diplomatic importance that is much greater than its size would seem to warrant, and with the fall of Napoleon, Glarien is even more important to the great powers of Europe. In order to secure stability in that corner of the continent, Nicholas must marry Sophia, the heir to the neighboring kingdom of Alvia. But Sophia has been kidnapped by Nicholas’ cousin Carl, who has his own agenda.
Nicholas has come to his English home, Rascall Hall and there he finds a solution to the problem. Miss Penny Lindsey who lives in the village, bears a striking resemblance to Sophia. How? It seems that Penny is Sophia’s illegitimate cousin. Penny’s resemblance to Sophia is not as absurd as it seems. First cousins Czar Nicholas II and King George V of England looked so much alike that they would sometimes be mistaken for each other at parties.
Nicholas proposes that Penny impersonate Sophia. She refuses at first, repulsed by this haughty and autocratic man, but after she has spoken with her mother (who had been Nicholas’ governess), she agrees.
This is where the book took wings and soared. Penny refuses to treat Nicholas with the deference due to his august person. She is intelligent, she is capable, she will not toady to Nicholas and she argues with him. Finally, Penny (who has a fantastic sense of humor) makes the haughty Nicholas dissolve with laughter. We readers at last see the man underneath the splendid surface – the man who needs Penny in order to be his true self.
My Dark Prince has a plot filled with complications and dangers – real dangers. Fans of tortured heros will adore Nicholas – he is as dark and hurting as any hero of Anne Stuart’s. He went from being a happy and innocent child to being a haunted and tortured one, courtesy of Prince Carl – a loathsome villian if ever I saw one. Nicholas’ experiences have left him filled with self-loathing. Because of this, his growing love for Penny is more of a pain than a pleasure.
Penny is wonderful. She is likable and kind without being Pollyannaish and when she is caught in Carl’s Machiavellian intrigues she proves herself to be a skilled diplomat.
If you love dark romances with tortured heroes, you will cherish My Dark Prince. If you can make it past the slow opening chapters, you will be rewarded with a tale that will grab you and compel you finish it in one sitting. I am so glad I persisted – I don’t think I’m going to forget this one any time soon.