Ladies and Gentlemen, for the first time in my life I have found a book that I did not like yet did not feel compelled to fling across the room. Mainly, I think, because I was just too damn BORED! This book was absolutely terrible! It opens with a letter written by a mother to her daughter and from that letter we find out the little country of Greater Avalonia is involved in an insurrection that killed the daughter’s husband and her father and brothers lives are in danger so she takes her baby daughter and runs to England for their safety. Fantastic! This is a story I can get into. Then we see the daughter is writing a letter back to her mother explaining that she has a duty to her country and will not just sit idly by while her father and brothers do all the fighting. The princess, oh excuse me, hereditary princess as she keeps reminding readers, her friends and whoever else she comes across over and over again, then drops in on a man who she’d left suddenly after about a year. No wait, 15 months, 3 weeks and 4 days as he keeps telling her over and over again. After a while I started hearing that song from Rent playing in my head.
At this point I found myself getting really distracted. First, the date of the mother’s letter was 1767 but the story opens in 1819. As Princess Tatiana is talking to Lord Matthew I’m wondering where’s the baby and how come neither of them are mentioning her daughter? When they both start talking about her disappearance of over a year I’m wondering where the hell she’s been the rest of the time. Mind you I haven’t actually done the math between the two dates because the last thing I want to do when I open a romance novel is start working on my math skills!
Then I realize it’s not even the same friggin person! The letter is from the Queen to Tatiana’s Aunt Sophia. What makes this really confusing is that Tatiana also lost her husband to an insurrection and her father and brother are still fighting the enemy and she too was exiled to England for her safety except there’s no baby. She comes back to Lord Matthew asking for his help because she wants to document Sophia’s story for her family’s history. She doesn’t want to travel around the country as a princess because “people are intimidated by royalty” so she wants Lord Matthew Weston to come with her posing as her husband because you know, the same people who would get tongue tied around royalty will just open right up and feel totally comfortable speaking to a Lord and Lady, right? Matthew questions the idea not because of her absurd logic but because he never figured her as the scholarly type. To this she goes into a tirade about all the things she knows including his hobby of ballooning.
So despite being hurt by the fact she just up and disappeared one day, breaking his heart in the process, he’s intrigued and tells her he’ll think about it and we find her talking to her cousins and closest confidants about the fact that she’s not actually interested in writing her aunt’s history but she’s searching for some royal jewels that Sophia may have had with her. So yeah, looks like ole Matt was right about that. When cousin Dimitri remarks about how she’s become much more assertive, aka a bitch, over the past year she goes into bitch mode and threatens to have him shot. In the next minute though, she’s all kind and soft again and tells him he could speak freely with her any time. We now discover that her new habit of being a bitch started when she disappeared in Paris for six days. Dimitri has a moment of clarity and realizes the disappearance coincides with the time she met Matthew.
So, Lord Matthew is getting bent out of shape and carrying on like a little girl because the mysterious woman he knew for SIX DAYS disappears again and doesn’t reappear for a year (Seasons of Loooooove…). I don’t know what happened in those six days but apparently she managed to discover he was estranged from his family, dreamed of inventing a balloon that didn’t send the operator careening to the ground in a fiery death and wanted to invest in a ship that would finance his balloon dreams. Seems to me they had one good roll in the hay and he opened up like a prank can of peanut brittle.
My friends, this was all before you get to chapter three. I have a rule when reading books. If you don’t get my attention by Chapter one, you’ve had it. If your characters or premise are mildly interesting in chapter one you need to capture my attention by chapter three. Well folks, this book gave me a migraine by chapter three and I find I’m really not that interested in finding out the rest of the story. The introduction is annoyingly confused, the heroine is irritating and needs to take her meds and the hero is a soft whiny little schmuck who today would be engrossed in games of three dimensional chess and rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock!
And so I say, avoid this book like the plague. I understand it gets even more confusing before all is revealed and everything starts falling into place. It’s a real shame because judging by what Alexander is going for I think it could have made for a great story but the execution just sucks out loud!