Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The Prince and I by Karen Hawkins

My first finish of the year is an historical romance, The Prince and I, by Karen Hawkins.  I liked it.  I've always been a fan of the Robin Hood story and this book provided a nice take on it.  The book is technically the second in a series, but I haven't read the first yet.  It works out just fine as a standalone.

Max is a general and prince of a country somewhere near Russia called Oxenburg.  Don't question the geography or the fact that they have their own language.  Making up a random country is a common trope used in historical romances to not have to deal with pesky things such as historical reality about royal genealogies.  Someday, someone will make a map of all the made-up countries used by historical romance authors.  It should be quite interesting.  But I digress.  Max is escorting his grandmother (who reminds me of Tante Lulu from Sandra Hill's books) to an estate in Scotland so she can retrieve something she lost from the current owner of the estate, Louden.  These books are set during the Napoleonic wars, so Max is war-weary and discouraged from fighting and losing people.

Murian is the widow of the late owner of said estate, who was kicked out with all of the servants when the current owner took over.  She, and most of the people in the area are convinced the current owner murdered her husband.  To prove it, she's also trying to get something from the estate, her late husband's journal.  However, when she and the others were kicked out, they ended up living in an abandoned village in the woods.  For various reasons, she and her merry band hold up the coaches of the people visiting Louden.  So Maid Murian is actually Robin Hood.  I love the gender-bend.

The opening scene is wonderful, and introduces the characters well.  Murian and her crew hold up Max and Tata Natasha.  We also meet Max's men, who we get to know a little better in the story.  The story progresses at a good pace.  It doesn't really bog down all that much anywhere.  The fact that Murian is a widow means we don't have to deal with maidenly blushes, etc.  She is a strong character in her own right and does what she can to provide for her people.  Max has a hang-up, of course, in that he doesn't think soldiers should marry.  Luckily, he's not as angst-ridden or stupid about it as so many heroes I've read.  The falling in love felt organic, not rushed.  The attraction was instant, sure, but the rest wasn't.  

The supporting cast is fleshed out as much as needed, although there are a few characters I'd love to read more about.  As for the betrayal written about in the blurb, I really liked the reveal.  It was a good twist.  There really wasn't much about the book that surprised me, other than the reveal about the betrayer.  I've read so many of these books and read so many versions of Robin Hood that nothing surprised me.  I figured out at least one twist extremely early on and was just waiting to see how that would play out.  All in all, the book was an enjoyable, quick read.  I'm sure I'll read it again when I'm in the mood for a book with humor.

No comments: