(November 2010: ISBN: 978 1 742 55059 6)
Being an incredibly shallow creature the first thing we noticed about this book was the cheaper matt finish (and deeper price discount). For once the relatively demure cover adequately reflects the content: a Harlequinised Beauty and the Beast right down to the golden ballroom dress.
We often suspect that there is a prescriptive list of occupations that a heroine is allowed to occupy, waitress, nanny, administrative assistant or if she in possession of a degree of intellect-librarian. (Cite me one MB title where the heroine is a civil engineer). Briton Dr. Tasmin Connors, suffering from a bruised ego and a temporary professional setback cloisters herself away as the royal archivist in the European province of Ruvingia. Here she encounters Prince Alaric the typical tortured hero aka the younger brother carrying the guilt of inheriting the elder brother’s birthright. Yay-lets compare psychological scarring inflicted by childhood.
We would like to think that West has a sense of humour as she deploys elements of the stereotypical librarian right down to the heavy rimmed glasses that the heroine clearly does not need. The initial encounter between our hero and heroine is delightfully executed and probably my favourite for 2010 (which can be read here).
Unfortunately, the pace is not sustained. Admittedly, we have not read every single book written by West but there was the sense that freed from the harshness of the Australian environment the temptation could not be resisted to snow in the protagonists, have the hero injured in an avalanche and let the characters suffer every other inconvenience that can be inflicted by inclement weather.
The explosive secret that Tasmin discovers is the Alaric is the legitimate heir to the throne but this burden comes with a terrible cost that he will be forever parted from Tasmin. The resolution of this dilemma intimates that this may be a two parter with the other being a wedlock storyline concerning Alaric’s cousin Raul. Should be interesting.