Series: Princess in Hiding, Book 2
Genre: Historical Romance
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Three intrepid princesses find themselves targets in a deadly plot against the crown—until their uncle devises a brilliant plan to keep them safe...
Of all her sisters, Princess Stefanie is by far the least amenable to law and order, which is why she’s appalled to find herself masquerading as an unbearably drab clerk for the most honorable barrister in England. But her dull disguise turns out to have its privileges: namely, the opportunity to consort unchaperoned with her employer’s exceedingly handsome nephew, James Lambert, the Marquess of Hatherfield.
Hatherfield quickly realizes that his uncle’s spirited new clerk is, in fact, a lovely young woman of daring habits. The outwardly impeccable marquis isn’t about to reveal her deception. After all, he’s hiding a dangerous secret of his own. But when one too many escapades with the madcap princess bring Hatherfield’s troubled past to light, it is only Stefanie’s sharp wits that stand between the marquis and utter disaster, and only Hatherfield’s daring that can save the princess from the shadowy agents bent on finding her.
Juliana Gray is a marvelous talent and I adored her first and third Princess in Hiding books, How to Tame Your Duke and How to School Your Scoundrel. That being said, I might as well be up front and say that How to Master Your Marquis was not the book for me. So many plot points in the story require a reader to suspend disbelief that I simply cannot list them all. Whether it’s Stefanie’s poor disguise fooling everyone but the hero into thinking she’s a man (even when she’s in her second trimester) to Hatherfield’s lack of caring that people notice his obvious sexual interest in a “man” (take into account the time period), I was pulled out of the story again and again. For me, that’s a big drawback and no amount of Ms. Gray’s lovely prose could make up for that.
As for the characters themselves, neither Hatherfield nor Stefanie drew me in the way Ms. Gray’s other characters have. This I’ll chalk up to reader preference, because there was nothing wrong with either character per se, aside from the fact that I couldn’t connect with them. Also, the timeline of How to Master Your Marquis shifts back and forth between Stefanie and Hatherfield falling for each other and Hatherfield being on trial for murdering his stepmother. While this made the book a bit more interesting, the back-and-forth didn’t do the romance storyline any favors. The chemistry between Stefanie and Hatherfield just wasn’t as strong as I was hoping and perhaps a more linear timeline would have served them better.
While How to Master Your Marquis wasn’t my cup of tea, it wasn’t altogether a bad read. I enjoyed parts of the story, but overall it was simply riddled with problems. Fortunately, the other two Princess in Hiding books are highly entertaining and I look forward to enjoying those books again.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.