REVIEW: The Winter Prince by Cheryl Sawyer
Dear Ms. Sawyer,
After hearing great things about your work, you’ve been on my “I gotta try this lady someday” list for a couple of years. I had heard that your books were long historicals filled with facts and details, with great characters and realistic plots. Hey, what’s not to love? I’m in heaven when someone tells me about books like these. Set it during the little used 17th century and I’m practically orgasmic. So, why didn’t “The Winter Prince,” the telling of the secret love between Mary Villiers Duchess of Richmond and Lennox and Prince Rupert, work enough for me to even finish it?
Upon seeing a copy in Waldenbooks, I snatched it up. The matte cover is lovely and fondle-able. The flyleaf is filled with glowing quotes about how wonderful the book is, the type is easy to read and it’s not a weird trade size. I set down to start and realized by page 17 that this book was going to take a while to get through. I revised my goal of finishing it in one day to finishing 2/3 of it. Then that got revised downward as the pages just crawled by on their hands and knees. I couldn’t understand it. How could a book about two such dynamic historical figures, surrounded by a whole host of other interesting historical figures, set during a desperate Civil War struggle that would decide the political fate of a great country not be riveting?
Well, I hate to say it but this one just didn’t work for me. I knew going into it that there was no chance for a HEA, as the book was about real people and their fate was known. I knew that it would be bittersweet but bittersweet works great for me sometimes. I knew the love story would be of the hidden variety as these were honorable people and all descriptions of them state that historians “supposed” that they fell in love. But as another reviewer said, lingering glances, stolen moments of intertwined pinkies, subdued statements in front of friends and families will not sustain my romance needs over the course of 384 pages. Couple that with exhaustive details about every single event known to have taken place, whether or not it was central to the story and I’ll be honest and say I fell asleep at page 188. While your attention to detail is admirable, it also has to be presented well and this book felt bone dry. I honestly didn’t feel the spark between Mary and Prince Rupert. I felt more emotion between Mary and her arranged-marriage husband James Stuart, Duke of Richmond and Lennox then with Rupert. And even the battle scenes came across as dry, recitation of facts rather than life or death moments.
I’m sorry that my first venture into your writing ends so quickly but I just couldn’t face reading any more. It would only make me hate the book and waste time I could be spending on books that would gripe and enthrall me. But this one ends as a very sad DNF.