Synopsis: Victoria knew from an early age that she would become a governess; it was the only choice she had to escape her begrudging stepfather. She ensured that she was every inch a lady at all times to better her prospects of obtaining a position… except once. During her friend’s birthday party Victoria was kissed by Raul Lawrence, a disposed prince plotting to regain control of his country. When years later she arrives in his country, Raul kidnaps Victoria because her knowledge of his identity could ruin the revolution. The future king plans to seduce Victoria, but soon learns that in this is one governess he has met his match.
Cover: The front cover is nothing out of the ordinary for a historical romance –a half-clothed female in the arms of a man whose shirt has no buttons. The inside cover is just as cliché of a man with his foot resting on a rock as he surveys his kingdom.
Plot: The story takes place in three time frames consisting of Raul at age eleven, twenty-one, and twenty-four. The first is Raul’s arrival to England and being introduced to his father’s legitimate family; the second section consisting of Raul planning to return to his home country and meets Victoria just before his departure; and finally three years later when Raul is on the brink of leading the revolution and Victoria arrives.
Location: This book mostly takes place in Moricadia, a European country that borders France. It has lush valleys, filled with an abundance of trees and waterfalls. For all its natural splendour, the people of Moricadia are poor and starving due to oppression. Only the very beginning and the end take place in Victorian England.
Character Development: The hero starts as a grubby boy called “Saber” to his people who knows nothing of civilized behaviour but has a lot of heart. Dubbed “Raul” by his uncaring father, the hero has any feeling beaten out of him over the course of his adolescence and also discovers everything he needs to learn about how to free his country from its oppressors. Over the next three years of planning a revolution, Raul relearns how to care again in taking responsibility for his family and his country’s people.
Character: Danel, Zakerie, and Prospero are Raul’s right-hand men. Danel is Raul’s first cousin and has some claim to the throne; Zakerie is a distant cousin; and Prospero is a brother-in-arms. While Danel and Raul are fighting over who is the rightful heir, Zakerie and Prospero are at odds about how to prepare for the revolution. Between the three of them, they make for an interesting read.
Romance: The pubic relationship between Raul and Victoria is fabulous. They are a delightful mixture of adversaries and soulmates; they cross each other but often behave in a tender manner. In private Raul attempts to seduce Victoria without promise which, while sensual, seems at odds with his caring attitude and possessiveness.
Quote: Victoria slammed her forehead into Raul’s face. He yelped and leaped backward. She never felt an unholy and never-before-experienced satisfaction of knowing she hurt another human being. “You’re right. There are weapons here I hadn’t previously recognized.”
She had noted many times in her life that men were stupid. These two were especially stupid.
The Verdict: Christina Dodd has done it again, yet another successful novel full of intrigue, imagination, and intelligence. It’s a book you just can’t put down and are disappointed when it ends. I hope that there are further books for these characters, as I’d love to know what happens to not only Raul’s commanders but to his sisters.
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