Samantha Rousseau is an American graduate student in wildlife biology, struggling to pay for her stepfather’s cancer treatments, and finding fulfillment in teaching undergraduates and caring for injured raptors.
When members of the royal family of Lilaria come to town, she is informed that she is actually the long-lost heiress of a Lilarian ducal family, who fled the country during civil unrest many years ago. The new Duchess is persuaded to take up her title and lands, hoping for better medical care for her stepfather, a chance to connect with her heritage and family, and, though she won’t openly admit it, the chance to spend more time with Lilaria’s handsome and charming crown prince, Alex, who seems seriously attracted to her.
As Samantha adjusts to life in her new country, makes friends, and learns to dodge the paparazzi, she and Alex find themselves becoming seriously involved. But is she ready to date a real-life Prince Charming, with all the duties and public scrutiny that involves? Could she resist him if she wanted to?
This is a sweet and deftly-handled modern fairy tale, with a sense of humor and an awareness that being a duchess (or a prince) isn’t all about fancy clothing, lots of servants, and balls. The responsibilities and trials of nobility may not be as visible as the perks from the outside, but they are there as well, and the author does a fine job of portraying Samantha’s adjustment to her new life.
The romance is tender and passionate, and the chemistry between the main characters sizzles. The characters are sympathetic, well-developed, and entertaining, real people who just happen to have been born into royalty, and the author makes it easy for even the most die-hard Republican to like them.
Some of Samantha’s resistance to Alex feels a bit forced, as though it were thrown in more because the love story needed obstacles than because it was realistic. Her concern about a publicized breakup is one thing, but arguing that a duchess is not a suitable match for a prince flies in the face of a good bit of royal history. Even in the Middle Ages, that would have been a perfectly acceptable match. Presumably, though, that can be chalked up to Samantha adjusting to her new role. There are occasional typos (“you’re” for “your”, for example), but nothing too severe.
The story follows fairly standard fairy-tale lines, on a more adult level (Disney movies don’t have sex scenes), and is rather predictable, but that’s the genre – anyone expecting the heroine not to win the heart of the handsome prince in the end hasn’t read enough fairy tales.
If you loved Cinderella and Snow White as a child, and always dreamed of being a long-lost princess, this book may be right up your alley. Even if you didn’t, it’s a well-written story with a good deal of wit and charm in it, and can certainly help pass a pleasant hour or two.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader