Undercover Princess
by Suzanne Brockmann, contemporary (1999)
Silhouette Intimate Moments, $4.25, ISBN 0-373-07968-0

Trust Ms Brockmann to take a spin of a tale as tired as The Sound Of Music meets Mary Poppins and turn in into a fabulously romantic story. This book is part of a series (as if that's something new) called Royally Wed, where four princesses of an island called Wynborough invades America in an attempt to discover their long-lost brother and heir to the country. They may be princesses, but they get plunged into the usual Category Heroine dramatics - this book has the Meet The Nanny theme, one has a Surprise Baby theme, the next book in this series is your usual Bodyguard Loves Me type... fun.

The heroine this time around is Princess Katherine, supposedly the shy, mousy one. May I add "the next parenting counselor in the making"?

Katherine suspects that billionaire Trey Sutherland's business partner may just be the long-lost prince. However, the elusive partner is away and hence Kate allows herself to be hired as a nanny to Trey's two kids while waiting for that missing man to show up.

Cue Elderweiss as Kate slowly teaches young Doug that he isn't a dog. The poor boy who hasn't spoken since his mother died of cancer is gently brought back to his old self, thanks to Kate's innate maternal instincts and guru parenting skills. Kate also lets teenage Stacy gets in touch of the latter's rebellious nature and calms the young girl's raging, pent-up bitterness over her parents. Along the way Stacy helps Kate in choosing the right underwear to seduce Trey.

Sure, there are some really romantic quiet moments between Kate and Trey that send shivers up my spine. Beautifully done. But these scenes only drive home rather painfully how derivative and totally cliched the whole scenario is. Royal princess who has never done a day's work suddenly discovering that she's Mary Poppins with Nanny Fine's gorgeous legs thrown in. Sure.

Surly businessman with no time for kiddies thawed by beautiful, generous loving nanny. Cold family regain love for each other and appreciate the true meaning of family.

Noble sentiments, but really, I'm bored. I can't help wishing it would be lovely if Kate shows some hang-ups about her ability as a nanny instead of the usual I'm not pretty nonsense. Or if Trey isn't such a Capt Von Trapp clone down to the scowl. (Douggie's a cute boy though, and so's the adorable doggie Poindexter).

It's obvious Ms Brockmann is a talented writer. But why is she clipping her own wings by writing recyclable material like this?

File this one under Been there, done that.

Rating: 71

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