The Prince Who Loved Me (The Oxenburg Princes #1) by Karen Hawkins
The Cinderella archetype takes a slightly different twist in this regency romp. All the players are turned about. The father is not dead, although somewhat lax in his attention to his eldest daughter, except where she can help him with his business pursuits. Bronwyn Murdoch looks after much of her father's business. She wants to do that. Her father is a muddle headed inventor. The description of Bronwyn seen through Prince Alexsey Vitaly Grigory Romanovin eyes is quite adorable. One is drawn to her immediately. Step mama might be careless of Bronwyn's desire to play a backseat to her sisters, but she does embrace her stepdaughter. The two stepsisters are likeable and there is love and camaraderie amongst the three. Sure, Prince Alexsey is charming, more of a careless cad rather than a ravishing rake, out for a tumble with what he assumes is a intriguing local maid. (How come those lower down the societal chain are assumed to be up for sexual encounters at the first glance from an upperclass scion?). The Prince being Romany adds an additional frisson of the exotic. (I must admit I flashed back to some of the early Barbara Cartland's at that disclosure).
The godmother appears as the prince's tartar of a grandmother. His Tata, (I like the play on words here), the Grand Duchess Natasha Nikolaevna. The Grand Duchess is determined that her grandson will marry. Both Bronwyn and Alexsey were very likeable. The plot is dotted with witty little musings, particularly on the part of Bronwyn. Throughout, the lead into each chapter is preceded by quotes from Bronwyn's favourite story of the moment, The Black Duke, a highly questionable romance with a somewhat incompetent heroine. Mostly her book just stirs Bronwyn's interest in kissing. Something Alexsey is quite willing to help her with. Indeed, Bronwyn finds that this can be quite delicious.
The plot rattles along at a goodly pace, although there are things happening off stage that one catches hints of but they never quite come into focus until the end. Bronwyn going about her seduction attempts is extremely amusing and the three methods she uses are ridiculously charming and loveable for both us and the prince. Who knew rosemary could be so effective!
I was going to give the story three stars but then reflected and realized that Bronwyn deserves at least four. She is a treasure of a character. I really enjoyed her.
As an aside, I love the relationship between her two deerhounds and the Duchess's lapdog Papilion who has the heart of a warrior.
A NetGalley ARC