Dear Ms. Krahn,
Jane’s already done the first review letter about your latest book which takes the pressure off me to recount the plot. Love it when Jane does that. Your author’s note states that this is supposed to be about a strong woman taking her hero in hand and getting him to do what she wants, more or less. In this you succeed very well. It’s also another fun and funny book from you that will join several others on my Betina Krahn favorites list.
Mariah displays her intelligence early in the game with her diversionary tactics at the inn. While this might not be the dark ages or even the Tudor ages when a King or Prince of Wales and his rowdy crew could get away with murder, she’d still have a hard time getting any justice for any damages the “Jacks” might do at her inn. So, why not prevent damages in the first place? Sounds like a plan to me too.
Secondly, I love the fact that even though Mariah is ostensibly a powerless woman more or less at the mercy of the two men sent to procure her agreement to becoming the Prince’s mistress, she’s far from a weak, quaking character. She, by god, is not going to go down without a fight. But she’s also clever enough not to directly oppose the plan to marry her off in order for Bertie to assuage his sensibilities by having a married mistress. Mariah knows that a flat “no” will get her nowhere but in deep trouble with these men whose future advancement depends on getting the Prince what he wants. So she slyly drags things out and plays for time. All while studying her opponents to gain the upper hand in their arguments.
Another thing that delighted me is the fact that Mariah enjoyed the physical side of her first marriage and looks to replay that in her second one. She might not have had a romantic first marriage but she and her husband got along well and she neither hated nor revered him. Thus she isn’t mired in memories of either One Twue Love or The Marriage from Hell.
Mariah turns the tables on Jack St. Lawrence with his list of men from which she is supposed to choose her next husband. This won’t be the last time she pricks his conscience about his role in this farce – as she sees it – and she enjoys making Jack squirm almost as much as she does besting him. And she’s great at both.
With her insistence on checking out each of the potential candidates for her hand, Mariah slowly gets Jack to acknowledge the wretched position in which he’s helped put her. It’s only a couple of weeks duty to him in order to gain his advancement but it’s a lifetime sentence for her with her new husband. Why shouldn’t she look at each man and see what she’d have to live with? Why can’t she add a few requirements to the list and playfully torment Jack while she’s at it? And once she discovers that Jack is the one for her, why not try for the prize if she can get him?
And I truly enjoyed watching Jack come to realize exactly what he was forcing Mariah into. His older brothers might have already played the game before him but Jack’s got enough common decency to become embarrassed by the whole charade as he watches Mariah meet and reject the men he, Jack, had so casually and without much thought, put forward as potential husbands. One wonders if the St. Lawrence men would have been so quick to engage in this kind of political service to their Prince had they a sister amongst them.
A problem I often have with romance books is the insta love I’m supposed to believe is forever. The couple knows each other for two weeks or sometimes less under fairly superficial circumstances and, yeah, it’s lurve. Here we get to see Mariah and Jack really get to know the other, to see beneath the facade to the nitty gritty. They discover the person inside and it’s that person, and not the pretty package, that ultimately catches the other.
I also love Jack’s ending monologue to the Prince about how he, Jack, has found his better half and how he’s learned that he can’t just serve the Prince but also has to be able to serve himself in order to be the best man he can be. It might be more Romance Man than Real Man but it’s great to read and a part of the book I know I’ll reread.
I didn’t have Jane’s problem with the Prince of Wales. I’ve read enough about him to believe that he might actually act this way and I had to laugh at his reaction to the choice of words Mariah uses to describe how she views his proposal for her to be his mistress. I also could believe that the “Jacks” were among the rackety crowd with whom he surrounded himself.
The secondary characters have their part in the story but never overshadow Mariah or Jack. I like that the book is so short as it concentrates our attention on the main story without any unneeded subplots. As I said, it’s a fun book with a strong heroine who finds her equally strong and appreciative hero and one I had a great time reading. B