The story begins in 1837 in England, a relatively consistent time period and location for a historical romance, but the bulk of the book takes place in 1847 in “Moricadia”, a fictional European country.
Saber, also known as Raul Lawrence, is the rightful heir to the Moricadian throne and he intends to leave his English home (where he’s resided for years under the cruel influence of his English father) and start a rebellion in his home country to reclaim his title. He meets our heroine, Victoria Cardiff, at the last ball he attends before leaving for Moricadia and shares a passionate kiss with her. The story really takes off, however, three years later. The rebellion is about to take place after much careful planning, when Victoria arrives (as a governess to English tourists) in Moricadia and, unwittingly, threatens to ruin everything Saber has worked so hard for these past three years. Consequently, he does what any sane person would do in this situation – he kidnaps her. Which, if you’re willing to overlook that for the sake of a developing romance, is very amusing.
What follows is a fight between Victoria’s English sensibilities and her growing passion (and love) for the delicious, decadent Saber as she meets his people, participates in his customs, and learns his language. Victoria is logical, sensible, and very strong (which leads to some excellent stand offs). Altogether she makes for an excellent heroine in the midst of such a complex, multicultural, and political plot. I enjoyed Dodd’s willingness to add multiple elements not often see in the classic historical romance. While Dodd writes a relatively cruel backstory for Saber, he doesn’t turn into the ‘brooding and angsty’ hero that we often see in these novels following such an upbringing. While he is affected by his childhood, it doesn’t consume him; this provides a nice change of pace. Dodd balances the romantic and strategic plots masterfully, keeping the pages turning until the very end. Along with excellent dialogue and consistent characterization, Dodd also writes polished scenery, immersing the readers in her location of choice (another nice change of pace from the English countryside).
This book likely isn’t for readers who have really moved past the bodice-ripper era of romance; those who need to have consent at every step of the journey will be incredibly turned off by the nature of the kidnapping. Since this is the ‘meet cute’ of the story, and facilitates the happily ever after, nothing will feel right for a reader who can’t overlook this plot development. However Dodd writes excellent, witty dialogue and – unlike many of the bodice-ripper era novels – Victoria never loses her fighting spirit and Saber shows his gentle side pretty quickly after the original kidnapping.
Reviewed by: Meghan Barrett