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Book CoverLynneC’s review ofA Royal Without Rulesby Caitlin Crews
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Presents 3 Jul 13

The book contains Crews’ trademark angst and does it very effectively. However, the reader is kept wondering a little too long about the nature of the hero, and the heroine is somewhat irritating.

The heroine has been personal assistant to the Crown Prince and heir to the kingdom, Lenz, for three years, and, while he hasn’t touched her, the kingdom thinks she is his mistress because she comes from a family notorious for its women and their affairs with the royal family. Although she knows her family history, although she must have seen the occasional tabloid, she remains blissfully unaware of the fact.

Lenz then passes her on to his brother Pato, a man notorious for his messy and blatant affairs with numerous women. As we know from early on, passing her on is part of a plan the reader isn’t party to until later in the book. Pato comes on to her. She fights him very hard. After all, he’s a womanizing pig.

Like the hero of the romance classic Flowers from the Storm, the reader first meets Pato at the tail end of a night of debauchery. He really does the things he’s accused of, it’s not an elaborate charade in that way. She finds him in bed with two women and sets about organizing him. What she doesn’t realize at first is that she’s another pawn in the game the brothers are playing. The reason for the game isn’t revealed until late in the story, but it’s not hard to guess so the reader is left with a sense of ‘at last.’ I would have enjoyed the story more had the secret been revealed earlier, so the heroine doesn’t go through quite so much angst and suffering, but it wouldn’t be a Crews book without angst and suffering.

The heroine, Adriana, is pure martyr material. Despite her ancestress’ scandalous behavior, she remains in the tiny country of her birth, trying to live down the stories that follow her around, instead of making a fresh start somewhere else. There doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason for her not to do so. One of her female relatives is the sweeter version of Wallis Simpson, living abroad with the man who gave up his position for her.

Pato is a more interesting character, sacrificing himself for something he believes is important, and he does it without self-pity, which is more than can be said for the heroine, who positively wallows in it. He makes himself into something he needs to be and doesn’t bother to excuse himself. I find that refreshing, and I think he has shades of my favorite heroes, a touch of the Jervaulx or Lymond. Only a touch, mind you. But I do like a bad boy who is really a bad boy. However, and it’s a troubling however, there is no mention of a condom once the hero and heroine finally do get together. Or anywhere else in the story, for that matter. This boy has seriously slept around, and a few weeks or even a month or two isn’t going to do anything to cure him from anything he might have picked up. You’d have thought he have enough respect and consideration for the heroine that he would have wanted to protect her.

The heroine cries a lot and can’t understand why she’s falling for such a degenerate. We spend most of the book in her head, so it does get a bit annoying, all that “I can’t” stuff, and then Pato catches her nobility, or he has it from the start. I’ll leave that to you to find out. Adriana is the main reason this book doesn’t get an A. Seriously annoying.

There are clever uses of the rumors surrounding the British royal family. I already mentioned Wallis, but Diana also makes an appearance in the backstory. The romantic versions of them, worth the women as heroines, although the men are left to clear up the mess.

The book ends abruptly, which in some ways is interesting. Pato tells Adriana what will happen, but we don’t see it happening. I assume there’s to be a sequel, because Pato has a brother who is engaged to an ice maiden, who is obviously also more than she seems to be, but I’d have liked Pato and Adriana’s happy ending to be more definite, since they sure had to work for it.

LynneCs iconGrade: B


The most debauched man in the kingdom of Kitzinia—if not the entire world

Royal PA Adriana Righetti is no stranger to scandal. But Prince Pato takes it to a whole new level. His infamous liaisons make for exceptionally disreputable reading!

Her latest assignment, keeping the playboy prince out of the headlines before his brother’s wedding, is mission impossible. Particularly as Pato is intent on ruffling her seemingly uptight feathers!

But when the cameras aren’t looking, Adrianna sees behind his careless facade, and wonders—is there more to this rebel royal than the world knows?

Read an excerpt.