SBD: The Disgraced Princess by Robyn Donald

Robyn Donald’s Harlequin Presents are like cotton candy: quickly consumed and really not all that good for me.  And still I read them.  

The title is kind of ridiculous, even more ridiculous than the usual mistress/virgin/Greek/sheikh mix and match titles that HP specializes in.  The heroine isn’t a princess; even at the end of the book, once she has married into royalty (no spoiler there, really, given HP tropes and genre requirements, yes?), she’s still not a princess.  And there’s no disgrace.  But whatever. Standard cover art, embracing characters with wind-tossed hair.

The backblurb:

Prince Gerd Crysander-Gillan has long held a torch for beautiful Rosie Matthews. But three years ago that need turned to rage when he discovered that Rosie’s affections were apparently for his brother.

Now Gerd has taken the crown, and His Majesty needs a princess. The obvious candidate for marriage is Rosie—a chance to take sweet revenge for the wound that has never healed. Only, once he has his royal bride, he is astounded to find that she’s still a virgin….

The first paragraph is actually accurate. Shocking, I know. The second not so much, since Rosie isn’t an obvious candidate, and he realizes she’s a virgin when they have sex long before they get married.  And there’s really no revenge involved.

Things I liked:

  • Getting the hero’s POV, so even if the heroine isn’t aware of the seriousness of his feelings, the reader is.
  • That the characters actually address the age difference, which is a little creepy — 18/30 in the flashed back scenes, 21/33 at present
  • That the heroine had realistic career goes and executed those plans, going to university and getting a business education, working in the industry she was interested in, even if the economy put the kibosh on her job plans

Things I didn’t like:

  • The characters conflating the morning after pill with abortion
  • Virginity again
  • Paparazzi as an excuse to railroad the heroine into marriage
  • The vast power imbalance in their relationship

Things I was on the fence about:

  • The heroine’s immediate abandonment of her life plans for the hero
  • The convoluted familial relationships that are never really explained: the h/h are related by marriage, although I didn’t really understand how
  • How/why the hero grew up in New Zealand but was the heir apparent for an Adriatic/Aegean duchy

As an HP, this one is pretty good.  But as usual, a reader unfamiliar with HP tropes would be not impressed.

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