by Eve Silver, historical (2007)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 978-0-8217-8128-9
Dark Prince is a very obvious take on the old Beauty and the Beast tale. Here, in Pentreath, Cornwall, our heroine Jane Heatherington realizes that she has to serve seven years as Aidan Warrick's bond servant or her father will be Doomed Forever or something like that.
Now, you have to understand what such drama means to a young woman like Jane. This young lady is not exactly normal. She takes self-absorption to a gloriously high level. For example, she comes across a dead body early in the story, the victim of the latest antics by the wreckers along the coast. Instead of feeling sick or nauseous or scared, Jane thinks "fiercely", oh, at least that woman lived, unlike poor Jane who is currently suffering as someone who, er, has never really lived or something. Seriously, go read page 11. This young lady loves being a martyr. When she realizes that she has to perform the ultimate sacrifice for her father, she practically has an orgasm on the spot.
So here Jane is, living with the brooding new stereotype in town, Aidan. Jane is soon performing her "I redeem an emo with my love" stint with gusto, announcing late in the story that she has experienced her epiphany, whatever that may be, so Aidan has better listen to her and behave accordingly because this story is always about Jane. Oh Jane. I can't help but to laugh at her ridiculous antics in this story. Nothing truly fazes her. Jane is so determined to star as the Gothic heroine of her life story so the bad guys never stand a chance against her. How can I resist a heroine who is so determined to play the leading role in the love story of the century?
As for Aidan, he's a stereotypical hero in many ways, but he is so cute as this hero who huffs and puffs in flustered consternation as he finds himself falling for the daughter of his enemy. It's not that he is that in love to the point that he is willing to give up his revenge, mind you, but like Jane, he knows how to go about posturing and making sad faces in a melodramatic way that I find appealing despite my reservations.
Despite the fact that the characters are silly hormonal kids, this story has a romance that is quite believable, in the sense that the characters end up talking about their trust issues and the problems that stand between them and their happily ever after. It also helps that, unlike the heroines in the author's previous two Gothic romances, Jane doesn't blindly trust Aidan just because he makes parts of her body feel warm and funny.
My only issue with this story is the choppy way the author jumps from scene to scene in the last few dramatic chapters leading up to the resolution of the mystery subplot. This part of the story is unnecessarily rushed with headache-inducing splits and jumps.
Sill, in many other ways, Dark Prince is a pretty enjoyable campy read.
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