The Prince of Frogs
The Prince of Frogs is an interesting sequel to Night’s Rose, but I can’t say that I am fully satisfied with the direction things are going. There is less actual fighting in this story, and the conflicts are much more personal. This is not bad by any means, but characterization is extremely important in this book, and therein lies my big problem: I was annoyed with the characters most of the time, which made their problems seem more like wallowing in self-pity and/or not as portentous as they were supposed to be.
Now that Rosemarie Edenberg is finally back home in Myrdrean, she has the tough job of trying to properly care for her subjects. The problem is, her personal life is a wreck and she can’t shake off the feeling that there is something seriously wrong with her husband. Ever since the evil elf Ecanthar tried to kill Gareth for Rose’s blood, he has not been the same loving vampire that Rose married. Not only is he still recovering from his wounds, but he seems to be hiding something very important from Rose. When asked, he insists nothing is wrong, but Rose feels that he is growing more and more distant from her and she doesn’t know what to do.
Amidst Rose’s personal and political turmoil, Ambrose comes with a summons from her grandfather, the Seelie king. His heir has been murdered, and he is instructing all other potential heirs to come under his roof for protection. Once there, Rose’s suspicions only get worse. She keeps getting dream visits from the Great Mother, and monsters appear from the shadows and try to kill her. Murderous plots abound, and she doesn’t know who she can trust anymore. Gareth is acting increasingly strange, and her feelings for Ambrose keep returning to the surface. To top it all off, it seems that Rose may not actually be who she is supposed to be: the sleeping princess of Myrdrean. Just what is a girl supposed to do to get a break these days?
So, I have severe mixed feelings about this story. The plotline is undeniably more interesting, but the characters are ten times more frustrating. I liked Ambrose’s developing character, allowing us to see a little past the aloof façade, but I was disgusted with Gareth and his utter paucity of communication skills and general un-manliness. Oh, I know there are many reasons why he couldn’t do something or other, but…bleh. None of them really convinced me that he was entirely powerless. And because there’s less fighting in this book, Rose is less of the fighter that I enjoyed in the earlier novel and more a brooding woman who is desperately confused about her role in life.
Unfortunately much of the book’s mystery is centered on the fact that Rose doesn’t know what the heck is going on with her confused husband. In the process, she became less appealing to me because she keept thinking about how much she wanted Ambrose. In the first book, I took issue with the speed with which Rose and Gareth got married, so now, as she yearns for Ambrose, all I could think was: I knew this was going to happen. Yes, I knew what all these signals of two hot men and one woman were leading to, which leads me to my next point: the ménage.
I don’t know if this is a spoiler, because this is one that could be seen a mile away. And even though I knew it was going to happen, a part of me dreaded seeing it begin. It was not the resolution I would have liked to see, not to mention that I find threesomes incredibly unromantic and not conducive to a HEA. It’s a personal thing for me that a threesome is strictly a sexual proclivity and has no place in a romance, but I especially don’t like it when the two males involved are half-brothers, because that’s when incest bells start ringing loudly in my head (even if they technically don’t get “involved”). This is reminiscent of the Merry Gentry series – it has the harem flavor that some might want. At the same time, some might well take issue with the fact that Rose is married – and clearly playing around.
I appreciated the pacing and feeling of The Prince of Frogs much more than its predecessor, but part of its character development and conclusion left me ultimately disappointed. I also didn’t like the porn-y feel to a hefty chunk of the book, which was so obviously a set-up for the ménage at the end. Still, I like Ms. Evans’s world building, and she does a nice job creating a believable alternate universe. While I won’t be rushing to pre-order the next in the series, I still plan to pick up the next book eventually.