Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a royal historical romance from Julia London. THE PRINCESS PLAN is the first book in the A Royal Wedding series and was a fun and entertaining romp.
About the book:
Princes have pomp and glory—not crushes on commoners.
Nothing gets the tongues of London’s high society wagging like a good scandal. And when the personal secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia is found murdered, it’s all anyone can talk about, including Eliza Tricklebank. Her unapologetic gossip gazette has benefited from an anonymous tip about the crime, prompting Sebastian to take an interest in playing detective—and an even greater interest in Eliza.
With a trade deal on the line and mounting pressure to secure a noble bride, there’s nothing more salacious than a prince dallying with a commoner. Sebastian finds Eliza’s contrary manner as frustrating as it is seductive, but they’ll have to work together if they’re going to catch the culprit. And when things heat up behind closed doors, it’s the prince who’ll have to decide what comes first—his country or his heart.
At age 28, Eliza Tricklebank is the eldest and spinster daughter of an honorable justice of the Queen’s Bench in Her Majesty’s Service in the year of our Lord 1845. Her father is a doting man, and rather dependent on Eliza to read his missives to him as he’s nearly blind. Eliza’s younger sister Hollis is widowed, and publishes her late husband’s broadsheet rechristened from a political magazine into Honeycutt’s Gazette of Fashion and Domesticity for Ladies, which is an upscale gossip rag. Connections to some higher society folk brings plenty of tidbits for the paper, but none so much as Eliza manages to stumble into.
While at a masquerade ball in honor of Crown Prince Sebastian of Alucia, Eliza encounters his highness in a service corridor. She is well on her way to drunk on rum punch–her first time ever tasting it–and offers the parched man beside her a taste of her drink. He thinks she’s offering up more than that–and she’s slightly offended, but not so much. He’s just a tall, foreign masked man in the moment and it’s not until later that she’s stepped on by Sebastian making his getaway that she realizes who’d attempted to seduce her in that hall.
Her scandalous accounting to Hollis is nothing compared to the big news the next morning: the personal secretary of the prince was MURDERED that night! Sebastian is frustrated that the English law enforcement can’t help him find the killer, and he thinks (with good reason) he’s a huge target for assassins from a neighboring country working in London. Sebastian, who is in London to establish trade treaties and find an advantageous English wife, remembers the odd and brash woman who introduced her own self at the ball the night of the murder. Clues in Honeycutt’s Gazette point him to Judge Tricklebank to whom he immediately goes in search of answers. There he finds Eliza, who will not stand for his rude and upsetting behavior–which he’s only more incensed about. Sebastian is not a man who hears “no” very often, and his ire at being upbraided on his manners soon tempers into an inexplicable attraction for Eliza. Her quick wit, fearlessness, and hidden beauty are enough to tempt him, but when she goes beyond all reason and expectation to help Sebastian discover the killer, and the traitors in his midst, he’s in a full-out swoon.
Only, Sebastian, for all his power, can’t marry any woman he fancies; he must marry a titled lady, something Eliza lacks. That said, he’s not a lazy man, and his ability to see a plan to its end might just catch the woman of his dreams–a princess fit to lead beside him.
This is a fun romp with some dangerous twists and scandalous curves. Eliza isn’t a fair maiden, and she’s not looking for a rescue. Sebastian is a man in need of help, and he’s not going to get it by throwing his weight around. London is not his domain, and for all his power he’s utterly helpless in his pursuit of justice. The recurrent theme of not underestimating the fairer sex really drives this home as Eliza continually challenges Sebastian and rises above his expectations. She’s a fun character, with a low filter and a BS meter set a zero. I loved the banter and the flirtations, which build from the first meeting. The vignettes from the Gazette serve as interludes of humor and plot motion, filling in gaps in a quick and snappy way–continually poking fun at the sexist and classist notions of the era. Though set in 1850s London, the sensibility is clearly American Individualist as Eliza flouts conventions of society time and again, in ways that would be 100% boorish in another character. She’s educated and intelligent and unwilling to give up her independence, which is a hindrance to the period romance.
This isn’t a chaste story, but it’s not super steamy. Expect a slow burn and a ton of sass. Eliza may not want to be a married woman, but she doesn’t mind making use of Sebastian’s athletic body and sexual frustration. In their quest for truth, Eliza eventually accepts that she’s falling hard for Sebastian, and she’ll be sad to see him marry a pretty, vapid heiress with the right social connections.
Good thing that’s not how it ends! I really enjoyed it, and look forward to the sequel coming out later this month.
About the Author:
Julia London is the New York Times and USA Today best selling author of more than two dozen romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the popular historical romance series, the Cabot Sisters, including The Trouble with Honor, The Devil Takes a Bride, and The Scoundrel and the Debutante. She is also the author of several contemporary romances, including Homecoming Ranch, Return to Homecoming Ranch, and The Perfect Homecoming.
Julia is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!