Doesn’t everyone dream of being swept away to a hidden castle by a handsome prince? A handsome prince leading a double life – pretending to be a gambler and rake while he secretly plots against an old enemy? A handsome prince with a noble cause – saving his country from continued rule by evil usurpers and restoring it to its former glory?? Well, in reality it isn’t as romantic as it sounds…at least, not if you ask Miss Victoria Cardiff.
Victoria is a graduate of the esteemed Distinguished Academy of Governesses. She went there so she would be able to make her own way in the world. Her stepfather resented any money he ever had to spend on her and her mother was too weak and uninterested to make any sort of protest. Victoria has been traveling through Europe with the Johnson family, acting as governess/chaperone to the two Johnson daughters and assisting Mr. Johnson with some of the bookkeeping duties that accompany his work as a financial advisor. When their trip takes them to Moravia, Victoria sees a familiar face.
A side note, if I may – just to let my geek flag fly. Every time I read the name of Moravia’s capital city – Tonagra – I thought about the episode of Star Trek: TNG where Picard was trapped on a planet with a guy who spoke in nothing but metaphors…
Am I the only one? Yeah, probably just me…but I was distracted every single time I read it. Anyhoo…
Once upon a time, Raul Lawrence was known as Prince Saber of Moravia. That was before he was sent to live with his cruel British father. Growing up in England, Raul has had to control his emotions and be patient. He needs to learn all he can about diplomacy and warfare, so he returns to Moravia to take back the throne stolen from his family two hundred years before.
During his time in England, Raul meets Victoria at a birthday party for one of his younger sisters – Victoria was her friend and classmate. At the birthday ball, Raul and Victoria share a passionate moment out in the dark. However, both have big plans and those plans do not include any sort of romantic entanglement and they do not part on the best of terms. So, when Victoria catches a glimpse of Raul in Moravia, she can’t believe her eyes. And he disappears so quickly that she isn’t sure she really saw him at all.
Later that night at a ball in the hotel, the Moravian rebels sweep in. In the following confusion, Victoria is separated from the rest of the assembly and is blindfolded, kidnapped by a masked man, carried off on horseback and deposited in a room that has all her things already there. By the time she takes in her new situation and turns around, the door is closed and a key is turning the lock. Not until the next morning does she realize who has kidnapped her – Raul Lawrence!
Raul tells Victoria he has plans to keep her busy (and watched) during the day and that she will be locked in with him at night (the room she’s locked in is his). Victoria promises she will not tell anyone anything about him or his plans, if he will just let her go. After telling her he doesn’t believe her, Raul explains about the cruel leaders of Moravia, goes into detail about what they would do to her if she’s captured and says her only option is to remain in his castle. However, everyone in the castle works, so he offers the position of mistress. She is outraged, course. Eventually they decide she will teach the people of the castle – the children will learn English and the adults will learn etiquette, since they will become his courtiers when he becomes king.
I know it might not sound like it, but this book starts off really slow. As I was reading, I kept waiting for something to happen. Victoria is in the castle, she’s teaching the kids and trying to convince the adults they need instruction, too. She is fending off advances from Raul – he told her he wouldn’t take her against her will ever, that she would have to beg…he didn’t say he wouldn’t do his best to make her beg, though. Naughty Raul. 😉 But he sets out to seduce her, to make her give herself to him, doesn’t set out to begin a romance. He has too much to do – a revolution to lead. And yet, the time they spend together locked in his room draws them closer and closer.
I have seen mention of forced seduction in this book. I consider it to be forceful seduction. She is so wrapped up in rules and what is and is not proper, it takes a lot to get past her walls. She is fighting herself and her desires. Are boundaries pushed a bit? Maybe a very little bit…but not so much that it makes me uncomfortable as a reader. They have an argumentative relationship and it spills over into the loves scenes. Things change when it really sinks in that he is leading a rebellion against so very evil people. The time they have at that moment, even if she is locked in his room, may be all the time they ever get. No matter what she is saying to him, her thoughts make it clear she is willing. As Victoria thinks to herself, “…intelligence and logic apparently didn’t work when she was naked.” Heh.
The plot really gets going about two-thirds into the book. Just as she and Raul are getting closer, Victoria is kidnapped again – this time by Raul’s cousin and rival for the throne. What will happen? Will Raul come after her? Will he and his cousin kill each other before either gets a chance to rule? Will Raul ever let Victoria return to England? You know you want to find out, faithful reader.
Also, for those who haven’t read any of the Governess Brides series, this book stands alone very easily.
Lovely Victoria Cardiff is very prim, very strict, very sure that England is the only civilized place in the world.
She’s about to find out she’s right.
Only Victoria knows the truth about dashing, dissolute, dangerous Saber Lawrence—that he is a renegade prince plotting to seize control of his country. To ensure her silence, Saber kidnaps Victoria and carries her away to his castle deep in the woods. There they hide the truth about their past: a glittering ball, angry words, a passionate kiss. He vows to vanquish her reserve … but soon finds an English governess is not so easily seduced …
Between persuasion and passion, they realize that only together can they defeat the enemies determined to destroy them. But will Saber discover too late that a woman’s heart is a treasure more priceless than any kingdom?
Read an excerpt.