Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Review: The Prince & I by Karen Hawkins

Publication Date: August 25th 2015
Publisher: Pocket Books
Length: 400 pages

Thanks to Netgalley and Pocket Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

Gregori Romanovin, Oxenburg’s warrior prince, is escorting his grandmother to a house party deep in the Highlands when he and his entourage are robbed at sword point by a group of ruffians led by a man the locals have dubbed “The Scottish Robin Hood.” The battle-savvy prince instantly realizes there’s something different about this thief, and it’s not just the Scottish accent—it’s the fact that “he” is really a “she.”
Lady Murian, a young widow out for revenge against the powerful earl who killed her husband and stole his birthright, is now living in the woods with her family’s banished retainers. To stay alive, she and her band of men rob rich nobles coming to visit the evil earl. But when she ambushes the Prince of Oxenburg’s golden coach, she gets far more than she expected. For when the prince uncovers her true identity, she’s afraid that 
he might be the real thief…of her heart.

I’ve never read a full novel by Karen Hawkins, but I have thoroughly enjoyed several of her novellas, so I was looking forward to this novel before I even saw the blurb. Then I saw that it was a play on the Robin Hood tale set in Scotland and I was sold.

It’s a thoroughly enjoyable book, one I stormed through in a matter of hours and loved getting lost in. It’s not my favourite romance, but it definitely had a lot going for it that meant I’m very eager to check out the rest of the series.
It’s fun and plays really well with the Robin Hood story, with a few surprise twists and a gender bend on Robin himself. I loved the opening scenes with the robbing, it definitely got the novel off to a fantastic start!

It’s also peopled with incredibly vivid characters that really jump off the page. I did find it a little difficult to keep up with some of the secondary characters (there were just so many of them!) but the main players are very well done. 
Both Murian and Max have accents – his some sort of Russian/Romanian hybrid and hers thick Scottish, so it does take a while to get used to reading the accented dialogue, but it meant that the voices really came to life and brought the story right off the pages. I could hear their voices in my head whilst it was reading, always a good sign.

However there were a few things that marred my enjoyment a little, and they were three fold. Firstly the modern language that crept in from time to time. It’s a pet peeve for me when modern language and phrasing finds its way into historical fiction, and whilst this was by no means the worst case I’ve read, it was frequent enough to be distracting.
Secondly the pacing lagged a bit in the middle and I found my attention waning. There’s a lot of longing looks, heated kisses and riding around moping. The action slows right down and it fails to maintain the pacing that the beginning and end have.

Thirdly, some of the romance. Sadly I wasn’t as swept off my feet as I was hoping to be. I did love both Max and Murian, but the chemistry just didn’t click for me which meant that the heat I was supposed to be feeling for them just never really fanned into a blaze. That happens from time to time with romances, not every couple is going to be everyone’s cup of tea, so whilst it didn’t quite work for me I know other people are going to be swept off their feet by these two.

It’s still a very good story, light hearted, fun and with some really vivid characters – all in all a thoroughly enjoyable read. If you’re after a quick romance to transport you to the Highlands I’d definitely recommend picking this one up. Now I can’t wait to go and find the other Oxenburg princes…

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