With new authors it's always a crap shoot, but I still love trying them. Even when the books are bad you can think about the talent behind the storyteller, and if they're good then you can be the first to enjoy them and share them with others. Julianne MacLean's first book lays somewhere between good and bad. The good: she's a fine writer. The bad: the story just plain sucks. And it's the first book of a trilogy...
Lady Alexandra Monroe is the rightful heir to the Petersbourg throne. Thought dead, she's been raised by a noble family, but now it's time for the people who have funded her and her family's comfortable lives to be paid back. The payment: she's to marry Prince Randolph, the current heir to the Petersbourg throne. Alex is prepared to do this not only for her family, but for herself. SHE is the rightful heir and wants her kingdom back.
Well she did anyway. Until she falls for Randolph's rakehell brother *spoilers* who isn't really the brother but Randolph masquerading as his brother so he can find the truth in the woman he marries. And here's where it all went wrong for me. I'm not opposed to this sort of plot, but it takes a certain flair to pull it off. Sadly with the convoluted plot, an on and off again relationship, the piling on of lies and misunderstandings, and an ending that I'm still shaking my head and saying, "WTF??" to, MacLean didn't show flair.
The good: MacLean has a great voice, if poorly used in this book. Her writing is solid and the characters interesting. Alex as a cutthroat female determined to be Queen who is both pissed off and torn about falling in love with the wrong brother is a compelling story. Once I realized Randolph wasn't Randolph, but really was Randolph (yeah, convoluted right?) then the story became really flat and boring. Too much bickering and on and off again emotions.
The bad: slogging through the book to get to an end where our hero Prince just decides he loves our heroine, after he was sure he couldn't be with her, but had to be with her for over 200 pages of freaking whining and gnashing of teeth. And yet, I felt for our poor heartbroken, often lied to, manipulated Prince Randolph. The author did an excellent job of showing us his life and why he was so unsure and messed up about falling in love with the right woman. Love is complicated. People are complicated. The heart is crazy. I just wish I understood why he finally made his decision to trust Alex, and maybe had less boring emoting about all their damn feelings. Show me, don't freaking tell me!
Bottom Line: A confusing and often frustrated read that left me willing to pick up the author's next book in the series.