The first installment in a trilogy (The Royal Brotherhood) that, in my opinion anyway is off to a good start. "The Prince in My Bed" engaged my interest primarily because I came to care, early on, for both the principal characters (Alec, the Earl of Iversley, & Katherine Merivale). Yes, the storyline is a much used one (Alec is penniless and must marry money in order to repair his estate; and while Katherine is an heiress, she's living in penury herself until she marries), and yes, Ms Jeffries doesn't exactly put a new or fresh twist on her particular version of this much used storyline, but then she does provide us with a lot of tantalising sizzle in the interactions between Alec and Katherine as she makes her case as to why these two characters should end up with each other. Nowadays, many storylines are rehashed ones, and not every authour is able to out a new or unique twist on an oft told tale. So that for me the true test as to whether or not the book is a one worth recommending sometimes boils down to the main characters: are they likable, if we care for them and if we empathise with the situations they find themselves in. Reading over the other reviews, I noticed that while everyone feels for Alec, very few have any sympathy at all for Katherine. So, I'm going to mount a defense for poor Katherine, whom I really empathised with.
Here's a young heroine, up in town for her first season, and she needs to find a husband so that she can (finally) touch her inheritance that her family so desperately needs. She thought she had everything figured out since her childhood sweetheart (a sober and trustworthy gentleman) has more or less promised to marry her -- except that he keeps putting off officially asking for her hand because of his mother's "illness." And then Alec turns up and makes a dead set at her. Now Katherine suffers from another handicap: her father was a hopeless rake who quite beggared the family. And based on her parents' tempestuous relationship, and her bedside reading material, "A Rake Rhetorick," (a primer with instructions on how to woo and seduce a young lady), Katherine has quite a healthy distrust for handsome, rakish men. Some readers have been dismayed at Katherine's lack of trust, and how she would keep on defending Sydney (her childhood sweetheart), and keeping Alec at arm's length. But as Katherine notes over and over again, the one reason she doesn't trust him completely is because she senses that he's hiding something from her: and she's right, Alec is pretending to be a rich suitor so that Katherine will not think of his as a fortune hunter. And I'm not sure about other readers, but I'd much rather have a heroine who's awake on all suits to a foolish one who loses her head the moment a tall, dark stranger starts wooing her! And anyway, Katherine's natural doubts about Alec keeps the book humming and moving forwards. It's readily evident that in spite of her natural reservations, she's quickly falling in love with Alec. And knowing exactly what it was that Alec was keeping from her, I was curious to see how the authour would resolve everything and achieve the happily ever-after ending. And I was relieved that Ms Jeffries resolved everything very well and credibly too.
I'm still not sure what all the fuss was about. Reading some of the reviews I got the impression that Katherine was a real witch. And she's anything but! And truthfully speaking my issue with "In the Prince's Bed" was the language -- it was far too modern. And I suppose I'm not too sure about the title either. But then I haven't been sure about many titles for quite a while now. So here's my take: if you're looking for a book with plenty of tempting sizzle, "In the Prince's Bed" in spite of it's much overused plot premise, is just the ticket!