The Prince's Bride
by Victoria Alexander, historical (2001)
Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-380-81821-3

This is it. Victoria Alexander's big time debut at the romance Almacks as a Superleader. Avon is gunning for her in a very big way, and Julia Quinn is probably somewhere biting on her fingernails.

Well, The Prince's Bride is nothing interesting, really. At first I'm fascinated by the selfish, arrogant heroine Jocelyn Shelton. She's beautiful, and she knows it. She will settle for no less than a Prince for a bridegroom, and she may get a chance when Prince Alexei of Avalonia seems to start paying her some special attention.

London stirs in fascination and envy as they await Prince Alexei to propose. I wonder why foreign princes in Europe are always called Alexei. If not Alexei, Dimitri. What's wrong with Baryshkinov?

Anyway, what Jocelyn does not expect is to get involved in a Murder and Betrayal Plot against the Prince. Oh, she's not doing the plotting - please, romance heroines being that smart? - she's actually the unlucky witness. She almost gets killed, but she sure wishes she is when she finds herself wed to a mere Viscount in the process. A Viscount! Ooh, the outrage!

It's a marriage-cum-bodyguarding stint, of course, and both of them, Jocelyn and hubby Randall, don't think highly of each other. I am fascinated.

Alas, this is no Judith Ivory's Beast. Victoria Alexander soon does the mediocre redemption thing, turning Jocelyn into a tweety bird of virtue and nitwitdom, where Jocelyn starts trying to save the world in her inept style. Her selfishness does not ring real, as if it is just one of those cardboard labels marked "Selfish" hanged around the heroine's neck. When the time is right, the author merely replaces the label with "Look, I'm a Regency twit now!"

Rand is a stock hero, with little wit or charm to distinguish him from all those Regency heroes out there. Character-wise, this one is a bit of the soggy biscuit type.

Plotwise, well, the humor is forced, the slapstick stuff is not funny, the secrets are not interesting, and the misunderstanding and trust issues are a pain in the butt because they are so ineptly done.

In short, while I do find The Prince's Bride at least interesting compared to the author's recent soggy oatmeal offerings, The Prince's Bride is still somewhat on the dull, uninteresting side. I don't think Julia Quinn will have to invest too much on those false nails yet.

Rating: 74

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