- Mass Market Paperback: 344 pages
- Publisher: Jove Books (Aug 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 051512883X
- ISBN-13: 978-0515128833
- Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 10.2 x 2.8 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 258,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Prince Nicholas also has an English heritage and an English title. He is also Earl of Evanlode, a title inherited from his father. When it is discovered that his bride has been secretly abducted, the prince delays his arrival in London and escapes to his English estate, Rascall Hall, to revise his plans and avoid a political catastrophe. Shortly after arriving at Rascall Hall, he meets Penelope Lindsey (Pennie), who possesses a bold and straightforward manner for a woman. Not only is she not impressed with his title of prince; she also dares to touch him! He is royalty and is used to being treated as such but it makes no difference to Pennie. But Prince Nicholas immediately determines that it is best to avoid reprimanding this outlandish woman and attempt to remain in her good graces. It seems that Pennie is the illegitimate cousin of the Princess of Alvia and is her exact likeness. The prince is shocked to discover this treasure at his England estate. He decides that Pennie must be taught to be "royal" and travel to London with him and impersonate the princess at the royal wedding. Pennie does not like this idea at all and refuses again and again. But the prince wins out or so it seems. Eventually she agrees to the charade and allows him to train her in the mannerisms and customs of nobility and Glarien. But Pennie really has no desire to lie and risk everything in her life for this cause and repeatedly changes her mind. Of course, she eventually does assist him but falls in love in the process and in doing so, dooms herself to immense misery.
Knowing this extensive premise gives you solid ground when you begin reading The Dark Prince. Ross writes an unusual romance and it is sometimes work to really get into her novels. She is a superb author but The Dark Prince disappointed me. There were a lot of intriguing moments in the book but overall, there was just too much angst. There were always problems and Pennie's behavior drove me a little crazy. She was alternately loving Nicholas at one moment and hating him the next. She was kissing him one moment and then hurling horrible insults at him during the next. It happened again and again and again. And she cried and cried and she certainly at times had reason to cry. But she cried and cried even without reason. I have never read a heroine that cried this much. Her on again/off again feelings towards Nicholas grew very tiresome.
Then we have Prince Nicholas and, being a typical man, he tells Pennie exactly as it is - he cannot ever have a relationship with her. He is most emphatic about this and is usually unkind in the process. But Pennie continues to hold out hope in this impossible situation with absolutely no encouragement from the prince. As the reader, you are unable to discern if the prince is a basically kind soul or a bloody manipulator. The enigma surrounding the prince's character is the finest part of this book. A true mystery enshrouds his genuine nature and he ends up holding more secrets than I expected. Yes, the hero and heroine eventually become involved and there is a sense of romance budding here and there but it is always, always suffocated by his duty to his country, which must forever be first. Since the prince is so secretive and closed and Pennie is continually bouncing here and there, the misunderstandings between the two do abound. But somehow, a relationship of sorts does develop. There are few sensual scenes and they rate about a 3.25 out of 5.0 (see More About Me for rating guidelines).
On the whole, I cannot recommend this book as more than an average adventure. Although Ross's writing could fall into more categories than romance, it is still primarily a story that is structured around the romance. Therefore, it is most likely to be read by romance fans and will ultimately disappoint many in that realm. There were many things that mesmerized me during my reading of The Dark Prince. But there were also too many maddening scenes, essentially played over and over again, that reduced the book's overall appeal.
The Dark Prince, Grand Duke Nicholas is truly quite dark. There were times I hated him; then there were times I adored him. Was he Machiavellian manipulator or tortured, but sweet soul trying to do the right thing? This book was an emotional rollercoaster for me wondering when Nicholas was being sincere and when he was being calculating.
Penny was the stalwart, straightforward English girl who dared to talk to this prince as no one ever had. She even dared to touch the "sacred person"! She is bound and determined to bring out the goodness and light in him - to salvage the small, kind, happy boy he had been before he was ripped from his home in the English countryside and taken to the Alpine kingdom of Glarien where he learned about royalty, cruelty, deviancy, manipulation and survival.
His cousin Carl Zanich is the evil presence in the book. And he is evil. He revels in humiliation, domination and mind games and he wants the crown. Nicholas must do what ever it takes to ensure that that does not happen - Glarien would be lost in Carl's hands. That's where Penny comes in. Her resemblance to Nicholas's fiance the Princess Sophia has brought her into the royal sphere. She must impersonate the Princess (who has been kidnapped by Carl) at the wedding, speaking Sophia's vows in order to ensure Nicholas' crown and that Glarien is not swallowed up by the other European powers after Napoleon's defeat.
Penny and Nicholas play their parts, but what happens when feelings get mixed up in the fantasy they are acting out? Will they be the same once the pretense is ended or irrevocably changed?
I loved this book. A classic.
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