Thursday, March 13, 2014

Royal Passion - Jennifer Blake (Royal Seduction #2)

Royal Passion has much to offer over the first book in the set, Royal Seduction.  However, I was still less than pleased with it as a whole.  The plot follows Mara, a young woman from Louisiana who goes to France with her grandmother following a bout of depression.  While there, her grandmother gets into some trouble and Mara is conned into bargaining away her "services" in order to get them out of their sticky situation.  Those services?  Seduce the prince of Ruthenia and make sure he's in a certain place at a certain time.

Roderic, the prince in this book, is the son of Rolfe, the prince from the first book who is now King of Ruthenia.  Roderic is much less rapey than his father, which is good, but I still didn't really like him.  He was extremely manipulative, and at the end of the book I still wasn't sure if he was being truthful and sincere with Mara or not, and consequently his emotional investment in their relationship came across as a bit...blah.  Mara was extremely stubborn, to the point of it being unbelievable; she made some choices that I doubt even the most stubborn young lady would make, especially in the middle of the nineteenth century.  The cadre is present again in this story, though of course sporting a different bunch of characters.  They were all very enjoyable, as was Roderic's sister.  It was hard keeping track of them at some points, but they lent a good deal of comedic effect to the story.

I'm not sure what the whole point of the "gypsy" characters was.  It was kind of random, and didn't actually really ever tie together satisfactorily.  The explanation given--that the kings of Ruthenia were some kind of patrons to the gypsies--was half-baked at best.  And considering how little they actually played into the plot, I think the book could have been serviced just as well by Mara simply stumbling into a camp of Roderic and the cadre, rather than a camp of Roderic, the cadre, and the gypsies.

And now let us get to the part that really bothered me.  The politics.  Blake spends an awful portion of the book info-dumping on politics in France at the time of the story.  She attempts to weave the fictional country of Ruthenia into all of this, but it doesn't take exceptionally well.  Instead, it diverts attention from the primary, romantically-oriented plot and onto this weird, boring subplot.  I found myself skipping large chunks of the book when this happened, and really would have been much happier without that whole plot.  I feel like the manipulation aspect could have been just as easily implemented if the subplot focus had been on something other than politics on a massive scale.  This really, really took away from the book for me; I shouldn't have to skim huge chunks of a romance novel in order to get to the romance plot.  Overall, probably at least a hundred pages of this book could have been chopped.

2 stars out of 5.

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