The Perfect Princess
The Perfect Princess had a plot that sounded interesting but ended up leaving me cold. It also had promising characters who proved to have little chemistry. What started as enticing, ended up being a perfectly average read.
Lady Rosamund Devere, daughter of a powerful duke, is tired of her boring life. While everyone believes that she will soon be betrothed to a prince, she does not desire to be a perfect princess. Fate steps in while Rosamund visits Newgate Prison with her best friend one day, and she is taken hostage during an escape attempt. Richard Maitland, the escaping prisoner, had no intention of taking a hostage, and his luck is even worse that the hostage is a duke’s daughter. Maitland, former chief of Her Majesty’s Secret Service (an early 007?), was convicted of murder. He was set up (aren’t they always?) and means to find the real killer, but first he must get rid of Rosamund.
Rosamund starts off appearing to be an intelligent, spunky heroine. She’s also a perfect lady and kind to animals and children. Oh, and convicted murderers, too. While at first she tries to escape from Maitland, she ends up befriending him, taking an interest in his quest and trying to help him. So far, so good. Then near the end of the book, a misunderstanding temporarily turns her into a shrew and that left me wondering where the intelligent person Rosamund had been up till then had gone. She accuses Richard of things that are clearly not true, such as him not trusting her. Then she reverts back to normal but has at least one more personality flip-flop before the book is done.
Richard was an honorable man. He is a soldier through and through and clearing his name is most important to him. He finds himself in a quandry over Lady Rosamund. He didn’t want a hostage, but how does he get rid of her? He can’t leave her by the side of the road to be hurt, but going to a town to drop her off increases the chances of his capture. Even though she irritates the heck out of him, he sure does think she’s pretty. For a large part of the book, Richard has a one-track mind about solving the murder and clearing his name. He remains single-minded about this even after he admits his tender feelings toward Rosamund.
While this story sounded exciting to me, but I had a hard time getting through it. I didn’t find there to be much chemistry between Richard and Rosamund. I didn’t see much love, either. Sure he thinks she’s attractive at first, even while she’s irritating him, but some nice talks and a few kisses didn’t make me believe they were meant for each other. That lack of chemistry and his single-minded pursuit to clear his name detracted from the romance.
There wasn’t as much suspense in the book as I thought there would be. A plot involving a wrongly accused secret service agent trying to find a killer led me to believe there would be action and suspense throughout the book, but there really wasn’t. Once Rosamund is returned to her family, Richard poses as one of their servants. He does no investigating while in disguise. He balances the stable accounts and thinks about his next move while he watches some of Rosamund’s potential suitors arrive at the home. Ho-hum. A bungled shooting finally gets him going, but actually Rosamund does more investigating than Richard.
There weren’t too many secondary characters of note, but I really enjoyed Rosamund’s father. He was powerful, but not snobbish, and he appreciated Richard’s honorable qualities. He also doted on Rosamund. His son, Caspar, also showed potential. He served in Spain during the war, and there are some dark spots in his character because of it. He could be a good semi-tortured hero. Rosamund’s best friend, Callie, was also an interesting character.
The Perfect Princess started off quite promising. The prison escape and Rosamund’s attempt to escape Richard were well-done. There are also some nice bits of humor, mostly due to Rosamund, and again there were those interesting secondary characters. Ultimately though, the lack of sparks between the main characters and a dragging midsection left me pushing myself to get through it and at the end, I just didn’t care all that much. Therefore, I’ll have to call The Perfect Princess the epitome of an average read.