Series: A Princess in Hiding #3
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Berkley on 3 June 2014
Reading Challenges: 2014 Mid Year COYER
This book had it all from cross-dressers to conspiracies, a cuckolded husband and even a moment where I thought it was curtains for our plucky princesses. I enjoyed it despite the over-the-top plot and modernisms. Princess Luisa is the last princess to get her happily-ever-after and this is quite fitting as she is the rightful ruler of Holstein-Schweinwald-Huhnhoff. Luisa’s lot is to work as secretary for spy-master Philip, the Earl of Somerton.
Somerton is convinced that his wife is cheating on him with another man even though he can’t get his hands on the evidence. He has become fixated with punishing her without really considering the implications it might have for their son. We quickly find out that he is paranoid and utterly ruthless when dealing with those who do not give satisfaction. In this respect he is the perfect partner for Luisa who needs someone strong (and vicious) to deal with her enemies. I was surprised he didn’t join the dots and work out Luisa’s identity as there were a number of obvious clues sitting right under his nose and he is supposed to be the Duke of Olympia’s counterpart. I wish that Somerton had positioned a spy in Olympia’s household so he could have turned the tables on the meddling matchmaker.
Luisa might come across as a fairly impudent chap when cross-dressing but she is pretty hidebound in her role as leader. She has already sacrificed an awful lot for her country but rather than enjoy exile in secret, is determined to get her crown back. Luisa challenges Somerton (which he isn’t used to) and would rather quit her position than do something she morally disagrees with. She quickly becomes Somerton’s right-hand person and slips under his guard (along with her corgi). I didn’t have a problem with the delayed gratification nature of the romance but I wish that more page time had been devoted to them falling in love rather than learning to trust each other.
This book is the darkest of the series as the identities of the conspirators are revealed but my attention kept getting drawn to the Machiavellian Duke of Olympia. The level of attention he gave the regaining the principality was suspicious and I really hoped that he would plan a coup of his own – no such luck. There are quite a few time jumps which was disconcerting as often significant events occurred during them. More than once we were forced to live inside the head of a character that stayed behind and simply wonder what was happening rather than getting the POV of the one who was off doing exciting things.
This novel rounds out the series nicely. Please read the books in order though as I think you will get lost with the political machinations otherwise.