Series: A Princess in Hiding #2
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Berkley on 7 January 2014
Reading Challenges: 2014 Antique Reading Roadshow
Princess Stefanie is having a rough time undercover as Stephen Thomas. While her sister got to play at being a governess, she is forced to work as a law clerk for a distinguished barrister. The biggest advantage of this comes from spending time with the barrister’s dishy nephew, James Lambert, the Marquis of Hatherfield. James sees through Stefanie’s disguise very quickly but their relationship is threatened when he is put on trial for murder.
James might be physically good looking but his father has left him emotionally and mentally scarred. He is a champion of the weak, the poor and oddly enough the middle class. The latter comes from him investing in middle class housing at a time when the wealthy were fairly ambivalent. James assigns himself as Stephen’s protector and tries to take care of her even when he is on trial for murdering his step-mother.
Stefanie is your typical rebellious creature who risks exposure at every turn. At times she came across as fairly foolhardy considering the threats on her life but at others fairly naive. Cross dressing was liberating for her (apart from the dastardly moustache) as ‘Stephen’ is expected to use his brain rather than rely on his exulted position. The humorous scrapes she got into helped balance the dark tones of James’ trial.
You will have to suspend a good deal of disbelief in order to enjoy this one. There are quite a few mannerisms that seem decidedly modern and there is of course the fact that no one except our eagle-eyed hero can identify Stefanie as a woman. There are lots of flashbacks and they can get a mite confusing as the significance of them isn’t always clear. I suspect though that with the last book in the trilogy, Gray will bring all the errant threads together.
I got the sense that Gray had enormous fun tweaking staid historical romance tropes when writing this one and couldn’t help enjoying it. I think you will be confused if you don’t read How to Tame Your Duke first though as there are lots of references to it. The two books run parallel to each other which helps as we get to see how the different princesses perceive events.