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Valarie: Review from The Romance Reader:
It's a lofty abmition, to be sure. Jocelyn Shelton has had but one dream since girlhood, however: to marry a prince and escape the genteel poverty brought about by her rakish fther and his reckless gambling habit. Oh, her circumstances have changed for the better since her father's passing and her brother's recent marriage, but Jocelyn still clings to that dream of a life of leisurely priviledge with the assurance--mayhap arrougance-- that such will be her fate. After all, of the four sisters, Jocely is hte pretty one--and as such, she's expected to make a match of unparalleled greatness.
Prince Alexei Pruzinsky, first in line to the throne of Avalonia, a small principality in Europe, would appear to be such a match. His visit to England is steeped in the mystery of politics and matters of state, yet his interest in Jocelyn is as clear as a bell. Indeed, the ton has taken notice of the said interest and fair waits with bated breath for a proposal--or something equally delicious, nay, scandalous to happen. Although it's only her first season, Jocelyn is confident of her allure and Prince Alexei's intentions. Why, they could be naught but honorable! His request for a private assignation that very evening, therefore, is greeted with delight--and perhaps a touch of naivete. Her family is distrustful of the Prince and warns Jocelyn to be wary: the man is a rake, a rogue. Their advice fails to prevent Jocelyn from sneaking away from the ballroom, however, and into the arms of destiny.
After overhearing a strange conversation between two men in the music room (where Jocelyn was meant to rendezvous with Prince Alexei), her life is inexplicably put at risk. Her eyesight is abominable--and vanity precludes her from wearing spectacles--so Jocelyn is uncertain of the men's identities. When she tries to excuse herself from the room wiht a smile and an apology--her eavesdropping was inadvertent, after all--the threat to her life is made very, very clear. A knife narrowly misses its aim and imbeds itself in the wood of the doorframe; Jocelyn mutes a startled scream; and Viscount Beaumont, a faithful man of the English crown, charges to Jocelyn's rescue (and kisses her silly in the process). It wouldn't be wise to attract undue attention and the lady was about to scream bloody blue murder.
For Jocelyn and Rand (Viscount Beaumont), it's an unusual courtship to say the least. As a friend of her guardian--and her sister's betrothed--Rand is a man Jocelyn instinctively trusts. But marry? Never! Necessity is often cruel, however. With the threat of bodily harm hanging over her family ( and after another unsuccessful attempt on her life) Jocelyn is forced into hiding; and Rand, with his mysterious connections to the government and espionage work, is thought to be her most suitable protector. In order to avoid a vicious scandal, however, Jocelyn and Rand must first wed. Thus, Jocelyn's dream of marrying a prince is crushed into dust. Will this spoiled beauty learn to love the princely handsomeness, dedication and honor her husband? Or will that nebulous threat to Jocelyn and Prince Alexei gain the upper hand?
THE PRINCE'S BRIDE is a whimsical historical romance with a strong hint of fairytale glamour. Avalonia is obviously a creation of the author's imagination; there's also a sweetness, an innocence to Ms. Alexander's prose that's reminiscent of a fable or fairytale. The "conspiracy" or "threat" surrounding Prince Alexei is a convenient plot device, yes, but a forgivalbe one as Jocelyn and Rand are a delightful duo who need such contrivance to bring them together. They're not unlike oil and water when first they do meet. It was also lovely to observe Jocelyn's metamorphosis from a spoiled, vain debutante to a young woman who realizes her self-worth is more than skin deep. Rand's background is left purposefully vague--and I must admit I shred Jocelyn's frustration with his failure to be forthcoming. I was pleased Ms. Alexander avoided concocting a Big Mis, however, to separate the hero and heroine. Although Jocelyn and Rand have their Share of miscommunications, they're never blown out of proportion
Amanda: Raised in genteel poverty, a girl always dreamed of marrying a prince but she is forced to marry her guardian's friend, an ex-spy, instead. They both have to disregard their assumptions. A little overly dramatic but kind of cute with the character deve