I nearly surrendered myself and put this book aside, but I slugged along until I finished it. It never got any better, though. The negativity in this book is overwhelming and even though there are a couple of unfettered scenes here and there, that’s just not enough to save it. Not even close.
The hero rapidly vacillates between insulting the heroine to wanting her naked. This is supposed to be part of his plan to dupe the princess into not fulfilling the stipulations of her father’s will. But there isn’t enough guilt or remorse from him about those actions when he begins to fall for her. His emotional vacillation happens so often that it loses impact, if there was any to begin with. There’s just no romance between them the way it’s written.
The heroine, of course, gets upset, angry, humiliated, and so on when the hero treats her in such a manner — and she still wants him, she’s still attracted to him. I never once felt the hero was arrogant. He’s just mean and wants what he wants. Even when we find out why he’s doing these things to the princess, that never lessened my feeling about him one whit.
Also, the imagery in this book is just as negative. An example:
He spit a bit of tobacco from his mouth into a potted bush. The conifer dusted in a pretty white powder of snow, now had an ugly brown stain on it.
Please. This is the hero’s action, for heaven’s sake. Couldn’t something with a little more decorum have been used? He’s not masquerading as a dirty rogue; he’s introduced himself as a duke. Even if I look past his attitude and insulting nature, he doesn’t strike me as a person that would do something like this. First, why would he spit tobacco in front of the heroine? Next, why spit it into a potted bush in her castle? This just isn’t his character up to this point. And, lastly, why give us the image of an ugly, dirty stain? Makes absolutely no sense.
The continuity in the book is also lacking. A simple example is when the two characters meet in a receiving line, the hero is close enough to the princess to be whispering his inane dialogue to her, but just a little later it’s stated he never got close enough to her to know how sweet she smelled. In addition, I always had the feeling I was reading a futuristic-set story, not just a straight historical. The names themselves (Volda, Maltar, Alluvia) of the “far-away” lands is the main example of that.
I also never felt a connection between the hero and heroine, at least not one of love. There’s plenty of lust, but there’s never anything really positive between them until the very end where it’s forced because it is the end of the book. Even the relationship between the hero’s sister and the heroine’s brother goes through a negative stage, although it’s not nearly as bad as what’s between the main characters.
Two or three times I found myself thinking, “Oh, that’s not a bad passage,” but there’s no way anything could save this book by that time. The fact that I could be pulled out of the story and think about individual passages doesn’t bode well for any book. So this read gets my very first really, really bad grade. But deservedly so.
She’s a princess desperate for a husband. He’s a duke…or is he?
With her uncle poised to steal her kingdom, Princess Katerina must marry. Miraculously, a new handsome duke appears on the scene. His sexy charm makes her tingle from head to toe. But can she overlook his arrogance?
The future of Dax’s country is at stake. Forced to masquerade as a duke to seduce Katerina and prevent her from marrying, he courts the princess with great success. But when someone tries to kill Katerina, his instincts are to protect the passionate lady no matter the cost.
With Dax’s deception revealed and her life at risk, can Katerina still surrender her heart?
Read an excerpt.