Friday, February 3, 2012

Review: The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt (3.5 stars, historical)

Full Description: Amazon

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Thoughts After Reading:   
I had high hopes for The Raven Prince. The premise didn't quite match what I look for in romance novels, but after a couple hours of browsing online and being disappointed by my other selections I was willing to be less picky. And things looked good, particularly towards the beginning: the book was well-written and the semi-frequent humor kept the tones of the novel from ever really becoming dark. Unfortunately, the mostly lackluster storyline led me to feel the book, as a whole, was only slightly above average; hence the 3.5 rating.

On of my favorite aspects of the novel was how the relationship initially develops between the protagonists. The heroine is an impoverished widow who lives in amiable companionship with her mother-in-law. One of the underlying storyline threads is that the heroine's husband stopped coming to her bed after three years of marriage (he died after four), since a heir was never produced. Because the heroine and the mother-in-law need a larger income, the heroine ends up getting hired as the hero's new secretary.  The hero's previous secretaries seem to have all been scared away by his overbearing countenance, although his demeanor really isn't that bad. The hero lost his entire family at once to smallpox, and he has physical marks as a result of his own battle with the disease. He was also married once, although his wife died in childbirth. After the heroine starts working for the hero, they develop a gentle (if quick) companionship and respect for each other. The hero is very attracted to the heroine, but  she doesn't seem to be the type of woman to have an affair with. He doesn't really seem to consider marriage, especially since with a barren wife his family's title would revert back to the crown. I thought all of this relationship buildup was nice, if nothing extraordinary. But after that, the story began to lose my interest. The hero eventually decides to appease his lustful urges by visiting a brothel in London. The heroine's plan to anonymously meet him at the brothel is somewhat understandable (she didn't want him to be with anyone else), even if it wasn't very well though out. They have sex a few times, and both come back from London dissatisfied (the hero is hardly "cured" of the secretary, etc and the heroine found anonymous sex with her love to be dissatisfying, who would have guessed?). The story eventually degrades to back-and-forth games of love versus marriage-out-of-duty as the hero finds out the truth about the brothel, complete with some love scenes thrown in. The lowest point is when the author throws in the heroine's sudden worries that the hero will be like her husband and stop being faithful, so she's not positive she wants to marry him even after he decides he really wants to marry her (*rolls eyes*). The conclusion to the external conflict (blackmail plot) was decent, but nothing to write home about.

Overall, there was not too much in The Raven Prince to recommend Hoyt. The humor and writing itself was good, but the latter half of the storyline can be summed up as "nothing special."

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