The Runaway Heiress
by Stef Ann Holm, historical (2002)
Sonnet, $6.99, ISBN 0-671-77549-9


I can give a lengthy ramble about why The Runaway Princess pleases me when not many new romances could recently, but I think it all boils down to one simple, mundane reason: this story makes me feel good. There are times while I am reading this book that my face ache from all that silly grinning, and sometimes I swear I am hearing that oldie - can't remember the name or the male singer, but it's the song they used in the opening credits of that Denis Farina TV series Crime Story; anyone knows what it's called? - in my head.

Set in 1911 America, it tells the story of a sheltered heiress named Evelyn Thurgood-Baron whose attempt at rebellion and running away leads her right into the middle of a fugitive-on-the-run/dirty cop conspiracy story starring framed cop Luke Devereaux. Evelyn can be a complete ditz, and in a way she is, but Ms Holm explains her growth so wonderfully. She's sheltered and she resents that, and I can empathize with the adventurous girl in her waiting to be break free. I kinda cheer for her when she sings in that seedy establishment.

The singing fiasco causes Evelyn's father to betroth her to some boring rich guy, so she runs away. I'm too charmed by Evelyn's spirit to roll up my eyes at this point. I do roll up my eyes when Evelyn can't see through Luke's ugly woman disguise, but I guess romance heroines have to carry the cross of being rather stupid in the name of plot. Luke is on the run, and when he disguises himself as a woman, he has no idea Evelyn has disguised herself as Luke's maid. This way, they are stuck together in a fun road trip.

Luke just wants to clear his name by finding his ex-partner, who he sure plays a big part with other dirty cops to frame poor Luke. He doesn't want Evelyn along, and he's grouchy in a cute, adorable bulldog-like way about that. When he's won over by Evelyn, he's still grouchy. Dang, I wish I have a bulldog. Anyway, he and Evelyn are so cute together. They have this thing going that is filled with banters and good-natured bickering that I am so charmed. I still want a bulldog.

The story does drag towards the end, and I get exasperated by Evelyn's cluelessness - she really doesn't know what is going on most of the time, although she does display some brainpower to redeem her somewhat. And I'm not too sure about Luke's problems being solved so easily like that. But I don't care really. This book makes me happy. I feel as if I can swing jaunty with each step I take after putting down this book.

So yeah, The Runaway Heiress is a great story to runaway into. I want a bulldog. I think I'll go download that Crime Story song from my trusty old Morpheus program. Damn, I feel good.

Rating: 91


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