* ARC received for an honest opinion
review also posted on: http://ramblingsfromthischick.blogspot.com
This was a great story but I will admit I had a difficult time at the beginning… I put the book down a couple of times and kept coming back to it. I had difficulty understanding what was going on in the story. After I did a little research I understood what was happening and then became very interested!
When the book starts we have a trial James Lambert, the Marquess of Hatherfield is on trial for the murder of his stepmother. We also have Stephanie dressed up as man working as the court clerk. The story then jumps to eight months ago where Stephanie, really Princess Stefanie Victoria Augusta, is disguising herself as Stephen Thomas who is a law clerk. She shares a carriage ride with James who instantly realizes that “Thomas” is really a woman disguised as man. After I got through some of the confusion of why she is disguised I really enjoyed this story, that really has a little of everything.
Stephanie’s life is in danger, as are her two other sisters. Their parents were murdered and in an effort to keep the princess of Holstein-Schweinwald-Huhnhof safe the three are separated and forced to live in disguise. After I got into the story I was really intrigued with the backstory behind Stephanie and her family and I added “How to Tame Your Duke”, the first part of the series, to my “to-read” list. I loved what I learned about Princess Emilie and the Duke of Ashland.
I thought Stephanie was such a great heroine! She is the youngest so she feels that her role in the royal heritage is not as a vital as her sisters. She is vibrant and less worrisome than her sisters. According to her own descriptions, she was always getting into mischief. Stephanie is also a lot fun! She really plays up the part of being a man and there were some really funny moments! One of them took part in a brothel.
James is also such a great character! He is such an outstanding guy. I loved that he was not the typical womanizer that much of the great looking characters are usually portrayed as. Even though he is very good-looking and surrounded by adoring women he is a very humble and solid man. He is very respectful of Stephanie and goes against his own desires and wants to keep her safe and protected. He is also ahead of his time, deciding to invest his money in housing for the middleclass instead of gaming at cards like the typical aristocrat. One he discovers who Stephanie really is he pledges himself to protecting her. However, in all fairness to the noble James he was always protective of “Thomas”. When Stephanie is playing the part of the inexperienced law clerk James takes it upon himself to check-in on “Thomas” and make sure that he is fairing ok. I loved the relationship that he had with Stephanie even before it turned romantic. They spent time together as friends and were not constricted with the rules of society since everyone believed that Stephanie was really a man.
The trial played a very climatic point in the story since it’s obvious that James did kill his stepmother. I have to confess that I suspected the real murder and I anticipated the ending to a degree. Although, I absolutely loved that Stephanie really played by her own rules and that James was so noble the switching back and forth between the present day murder trial the past was a little confusing. The author connected the events from the present to the past but it was not my favorite part. I can see why some readers may enjoy the jigsaw puzzle storyline but for me I thought that there was already way too much going on. I also found it a little difficult to believe that James was the only one that saw behind Stephanie’s disguise. At no point in the story do any of the other characters believe that she is really a woman. I’m looking forward to the next part of the series and you can’t go wrong with this book!