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on 27 September 2002
This book begins subsequent to the events of 'The Prince's Bride', however it is not truly a sequel to that book (which in itself was a sequel to The Marriage Lesson). Many of the characters we have met before, however Matthew and Tatiana do not engage overly with our old friends Marianne, Jocelyn and the rest - in fact, as they are called mostly by their titles I found them to be largely unrecognisable as the individuals I know them to be. So this book can be read as a stand alone tale.
Lord Matthew Weston, 'lowly' 4th son of a Marquis, considers himself to be a bit of an outcast. His father sent him to the military (nowadays I expect it would be military school) when Matthew was 16. Ten years later he is trying to win awards for his balloon flying - attempting to fly being a wacky habit that will never take off according to the more sober judges of the day - so that he can fund his own business while avoiding the whole issue of his family. Fifteen months, three weeks and four days previous to the opening of the book, Tatiana had fled Matthews bed a day after marrying him, having not told Matthew in the six days they had known each other who she really is - a hereditary princess of Avalonia (the country we met in 'The Prince's Bride'). Tatiana is now in England to track down the Heavens - a set of jewels said in legend to protect her country which have been lost some fifty years previously. Although in point of fact, Tatiana is really there to sort out her marriage, having discovered that she made a cowardly mistake in leaving.
So far as Matthew is concerned, he married Tatiana because he loved her, and he's been deeply hurt by her leaving. She will have her work cut out for her to convince him that they should get back together. Matthew thinks the marriage has been annulled, but Tatiana did not dissolve the marriage. So she comes up with a cunning plan - to search for the Heavens with his help, 'posing' as his wife. Matthew needs funds, she needs him. As it turns out, Princess Valentina is also now in England, having been exiled from Avalonia, and she wants the Heavens too, in order to oust Tatiana's father and brother from the throne by showing the people how they'd been deceived. Or just for the spite of it.
As with previous books by Alexander, the strengths of this book are the dialogue and relationship between the two central characters. The witty exchanges between Matt and Tatiana are funny and sometimes poignant, serving to show their feelings while at the same time allowing the characters the comfort of clever dialogue. There are some very funny exchanges, and also some very touching ones. Often the wit leads to true exchanges of feeling. They both clearly do care about each other, and this is also shown by shifting perspective between characters so that we can get into their heads.
Again, as with The Prince's Bride, some suspension of disbelief is required - the princess who hides her identity and the couple that marry within 6 days, for example. The conflict in the second half between the couple over Tatiana's title and role is ultimately no conflict at all, which seems rather pointless but does provide the angst of the tale.
Much like Julia Quinn's books, I enjoy Alexander in part because of her use of the same characters in her books, like revisiting old friends. I didn't mind that here those we'd met before were kept to the background, but I was disturbed that I barely recognised them - they are such individuals and here they just seemed to be lumped together as loving couples, without the distinctiveness I know in them. This is perfectly acceptable, as neither Matt nor Tatiana know them very well but I think I would have preferred perhaps just to have one or two of the previous characters appear and have them integrated into the story to greater effect.
A small niggle in what was otherwise a very enjoyable book.
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on 19 September 2014
book not in very good condtion also i found it very boring
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