The companion to Passion, Purity and the Prince, Prince of Scandal is what it is. A highly polished book from an author confident in their ability to replicate the archetypical Mills and Boon romance. Indeed, the Australian publishers nominate it as ‘Book of the Month.’
Raul, the crown prince of the fictitious principality Maritz must marry the long lost princess of Ardissia to accede to the throne. Slender, blonde and beautiful, Luisa Hardwicke is found working on her family’s dairy farm which is debt straitened. Seizing upon this financial vulnerability, Raul coerces Luisa to assume her inheritance. Of course, the path of Harlequin love must visit the usual pit stops-hero pays for the heroine’s makeover, heroine connects to the people, passionate wedding night, heroine demonstrate her inherent maternal feelings, heroine shows jealousy when confronted with the hero’s ex, aloof hero confesses his deep feelings when face with the prospect of losing the heroine forever, mutual declaration of love. The End.
As for the scandal surrounding the Prince, it is all rather tame even anti-climactic, but I guess we must allow for the puritanical nature of the North American audience not accustomed to decades of scandal from the House of Windsor.
Dare it be said, but we do not believe West’s heart was in this one. The book was rather perfunctory. That is not to say it’s bad. Indeed, based on the offerings this year, it will probably be one of the best for 2011. Perhaps, as West becomes established in the Harlequin stable (i.e. her primary audience becomes North American), the Australian characters seem to lose their (overt) frame of reference. Their idiom becomes homogenised and the geography of Australian shrinks to just Sydney.
This became an irritant for me, given that most the prime agricultural land around the Sydney basin has long been devoured by property developers, where would this dairy farm be? Most dairy farms are located inland not on the coast yet Raul travels down the ‘coast south from Sydney’ (p.7) to locate Luisa. This rules out Camden in the west. Southern Highlands perhaps? Point is, Luisa wouldn’t be referencing Sydney as home.
But then again, perhaps a heroine from regional Australia would be a bit too radical, wouldn’t it?