Sunday, November 8, 2009

Prince Charming by Julie Garwood *****

It took a wonderful, wonderful book to make me want to blog again! This morning I finished Garwood's The Wedding, which I had been reading just a few pages at a time for several days, and since it was Sunday and I had no plans, I decided to pick up another Garwood title.

Garwood has a sort of pattern of writing - she uses similar settings and situations in many of the books I've read. Not the plot, necessarily, but similar phrasing, similar situations. She often has the heroine trying to change the hero to be more like her father - well, that's an oversimplification, but it seems the heroine is forever thinking that the hero doesn't know how to... show love, or greet his wife, or some such, and that she will have to show him how it's done, or how her father and mother were. I'm not explaining it well, but my point really is that Prince Charming took a "charming" detour off that route!

For one thing, it's set in post-Civil War America, whereas so many of the books I've read have been medievals. Apparently she has a trilogy set in the West as well, and I have read the first one in her contemporary series, but this was especially different since I had just finished The Wedding this morning.

There are some plot points in here that many romance readers cringe at - the arranged marriage to a stranger, a will that has provisions, and children. The fish out of water - rugged American hero, prissy Brit aristocrat heroine. Even a secret child, although it isn't the heroine's. But somehow Garwood made all these plausible, and wonderful, and wrote a story with depth and intrigue (well, sorta) and plot twists. Ok, some of the plot twists got solved a little too easily - but still, the story was wonderful and I enjoyed my day very much, just reading (with somes stops for a meal or 2).

Taylor is the heroine - raised by her grandmother who is now on her death bed, her biggest fear is that her uncle, who will inherit the title, the land and the funds, will find a way to take guardianship of her 2 young nieces, recently orphaned in America. Her second biggest fear is that he will also take guardianship over her. Her grandmother finagles a marriage to an American, in exchange for the sum of money he needs to pay ransom for his younger half-brother. Oh, it is all too complicated to explain here, but in the book it made a lot of sense - and the opening was brilliant.

Lucas Ross is the bastard child of an American mother and a British titled aristocrat who only cared about his actual heir, the oldest son. His bastard son, and his 3 other sons from his marriage don't matter to him, but the boys do matter to Lucas. He came to England to pay the oldest brother a ransom to let the youngest one go free. Since he's never planned to marry anyway, this marriage of convenience works well for him - escort the silly twit to Boston, and get an annulment before heading back to Montana.

Oh, if only romance writers would leave these poor heroes alone to do as they planned!! Taylor isn't any more desirous of the marriage, and looks forward to getting to Boston, getting rid of this American husband, then getting her sister's twins and heading West to hide forever from the evil uncle. But grandmother - now smiling down at them from Heaven, no doubt - managed to truly find a Prince Charming for Taylor - a man who couldn't leave her or the twins or the half-breed boy found taking care them either. Not to mention the single, pregnant woman Taylor befriended crossing the Atlantic.

I laughed and smiled and was worried and figuratively on the edge of my seat throughout the book (since I was mostly on the futon, I wasn't really on the edge, but... you know). It was a nice long book, too - over 500 pages!

I've pretty much given up on any challenges this year - I don't know if it fits in any of the ones I was involved in before fate took a twist for me, and moved me back to Houston. Working, and that damned Mafia Wars (so addictive! I cannot stop!), are both keeping me from my passion for reading. But today I indulged, and I'm glad I did. Maybe it's the first of many more reviews and challenges and reading.

5 stars and it's a Favorite too!

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