Interest: Guilty Pleasure/Nice Cover
A princess in hiding
Dispatched by the king to retrieve his headstrong, errant daughter, Lucas Garcia thought this was just another day at the office. That's before he meets Princess Claudine Verbault, who's adamant that returning to the kingdom that banished her as a child is never going to happen.
A barely concealed attraction!
Hidden from the spotlight, the now-independent Claudia has learned the art of being the anti-perfect princess. But Lucas does not look like the kind of man to accept insubordination! If only she could bargain with this frustratingly immovable man and give him something to distract him from his duty! (summary from Goodreads.com)
*I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has not influenced my opinion in any way.*
Harlequin Romances are one of my favorite guilty pleasures to indulge in when I have a little (emphasis on the little) room for a reading break. I'll be one of the first to admit that a number of them are filled with so much cheesy romance, you gain five pounds just by looking at the cover. Princess in the Iron Mask laid it on thick in the first 30 pages or so. Claudine uses words similar to god-like, graceful and predator to describe Lucas, while he uses the terms curvy and "way too sexy to be dressed up in a lab coat" for Claudine.
What originally interested me in the story was the idea of an MIA princess who refused to feel obligated to her country. What kind of treatment in her kingdom would inspire that level of avoidance? I admit to Claudine having a good reason at the beginning for abdicating any feelings of tenderness for the crown. Still, I felt like that, one of the most solid parts of her character, was swept aside as a misunderstanding in order to expedite the plot. It made me feel confused because I was disappointed in the resolution of such a huge conflict in her life, yet the explanation for it felt too plausible to dismiss.
Lucas was like every other romance hero ever. He's a god guy and worthy of a woman who loves him, but he doesn't feel he is because of some childhood or teenage tragedy involving a loved one. I liked Lucas because of his banter back and forth with Claudine, but other than that there was nothing very distinguishing about him.
The side details were really what kept me interested in the novel. (Well, that and the hot makeout in the stairwell, but that's another story.) I constantly wondered why Claudine's parents had decided to leave her on her own, to be completely independent when she was the Crown Princess. This is of course me assuming there was some character-driven reason for it, not a convenient plot hole. I was very interesting in examining more of the relationship between Lucas and the King as well as Lucas and his second in command. I adored the little endearments Lucas and Claudine said in Spanish, I believe?
I had never heard of JDMS before and was a little interested in the illness. I liked the idea that the princess hadn't always been perfect, but instead suffered a few serious self-esteem issues from her past. (Even though to Lucas, she grew up absolutely drop-dead gorgeous anyhow.) I'm happy the author decided to include the illness, especially given that her son has the same condition.
For Claudine and Lucas, I would have preferred a more drawn-out and torturous game of "I lust after you, you up for a f***?" But, this is a short novel and I can understand the need for speed in that area.
Princess in the Iron Mask was exactly what I expected, a fun, sexy and best of all, distracting read. It was a good Harlequin novel which I wouldn't mind reading again. I'd actually like to see an extension of this world with a few of the side characters. Princess had an interesting world worth exploring. If you're a solid romance fan, or just looking for a short book to read in an afternoon Princess in the Iron Mask will be perfect for you.
Teaser Lines: "Does Lucas know how you feel about him?"
A breath she'd had no idea she was holding whooshed out out of her and her head bowed- her mask slipping to shatter upon the floor. "God. I hope not."