The Star Princessby Susan Grant
Ilana Hamilton isn't an adventurer like her pilot mother, or a diplomat like her do-right brother; she's a brash, fun-loving filmmaker who'd rather work behind the camera than be a paparazzi target in front of it. Star princess or not, she's a perfectly normal, single woman-and prefers to stay that way-until Prince/i>
ALibrary Journal Best of the Year pick!
Ilana Hamilton isn't an adventurer like her pilot mother, or a diplomat like her do-right brother; she's a brash, fun-loving filmmaker who'd rather work behind the camera than be a paparazzi target in front of it. Star princess or not, she's a perfectly normal, single woman-and prefers to stay that way-until Prince Ché Vedla crashes into her life. When the sexy royal asks for help sowing his wild oats, Ilana is happy to help. But fall for Prince Charming herself? Not a chance. Ché is too stuffy, too arrogant, and too old-fashioned.
But the charming Prince Ché has other plans.When he sweeps her off her feet, Ilana sees stars, and the higher he takes her, the more she wants to fly-with him.But can she go along for the ride without worrying about where they might land?
- Susan Grant
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The Star Princess
By Susan Grant
Copyright © 2003
All right reserved.
Decadence, Ilana mused as she left a reception at the Beverly
Hills agency that represented movie star Hunter Holt. She
could almost smell it in a man: decadence-the reckless,
hedonistic, blasé decadence exuded by only the very rich and
truly powerful. Living to excess ... she found it part
fascinating, part repulsive; it was so foreign to what she
was, and what she wanted to be. "Would you consider Holt
decadent?" she asked Linda, her personal assistant.
Linda followed her into an elevator and they rode it down to
street level. "The chocolate cheesecake was decadent. But
Holt? He tries. I don't know if he's 'quality' enough to
qualify as truly decadent."
"True. He's self-made. He didn't inherit anything he has. Or
had, before he blew it all on drugs."
"He's more ... used. Like an old Lamborghini is used. Sexy,
luxurious, still a status symbol, but if you look too closely,
you can see the leather fittings are worn."
Linda's eyes crinkled behind her narrow, black rectangular
glasses. "I don't think I want to know about Holt's
fittings-what they look like or where they've been."
"Debauchery isn't very hygienic." Ilana laughed and snapped
her fingers. "That's the word I'm looking for. Debauched. One
step below decadence." Holt exuded it like bad aftershave:
latenights, hard partying, and too much money. "But he's got
talent, and it's bankable."
"If he can keep straight long enough to finish a film."
"If he led a boring life, no one would have financed our
Linda studied her. "I wouldn't think Holt was your type,
"Are you crazy? I don't have a type. But I do know that I
don't do decadent, and I don't do debauched."
The elevator let them out in a marble-floored foyer manned by
a bored security guard. Outside, the July evening was tinted
orange. It was nearly nine and it was still twilight. Glass
doors swooshed open and she strode outside, high heels tapping
out a staccato beat on the cement.
Linda had no troubled keeping up with her. Ilana wouldn't have
kept an assistant who did. Besides, Linda didn't walk; she
bounced along, as energetic as her short, spiky flame-orange
hair. Ilana needed a Linda. The woman was indispensable during
the chaotic days of filming and the post-production frenzy
that followed. But now that Ilana was sifting through possible
projects, so far unable to decide on any, Linda would retreat
on vacation to her Torrance condo and her three schnauzers
until Ilana called her back to duty.
"Don't tell me you don't know the type of man who attracts
"Available is nice. Not being possessive helps, too."
"Don't shake your head at my social life."
"I'm not shaking my head. Did you see me shaking my head? I'm
only stating the facts. Available isn't a type."
Ilana fluffed out her hair. "It works for me."
"Because you've never stayed with Mr. Right-Now long enough to
figure out if he's Mr. Right."
"Explain to me why when a man says he's a confirmed bachelor,
no one minds, but when a woman says the same thing, everyone
has a problem with it."
"I'm not talking about any woman; I'm talking about you,
Ilana. I don't see you alone for the rest of your life, and I
don't think you do, either."
"That's right. I don't." She gave Linda a sideways smile. "I
have a good social life. I attract men."
"You attract them. But you never let them get close."
Ilana's chest tightened strangely. Maybe she did crave that
closeness. But she wasn't sure it was worth the risk.
Monogamy, commitment, it might work for Linda and women like
her, but she'd seen the flip side of the coin, the hurt her
mother had suffered when she'd found out how long her first
husband, Ilana's father Jock, had been cheating on her.
At a young age, Ilana had suspected that "Daddy was seeing
other ladies." With a child's hyper-awareness, she could smell
the faintness of perfume when he'd open his suitcase after
returning home from his trips as an airline pilot, could tell
that he'd been with a stranger, things her mother never seemed
to notice. That innocence-or blindness-had angered Ilana.
She'd directed that fury at her mother, for not seeing, for
letting herself love Jock, despite what he was doing behind
her back. If he was with other women, it meant he was bored of
his family, tired of them. Assigning that blame made her a
sullen teenager with her mother, and a needy girl with her
father, showering him with love and attention so that he
wouldn't leave. While Ian had reacted the opposite way,
becoming the perfect, devoted son, only in the last few years
of college did Ilana grow closer to her mother. But the
deep-down kernel of anger, of resentment, of fear, had never
really gone away. "Giving someone that much opportunity to
hurt you is crazy."
"I think if you ever opened up, Ilana, let a man inside that
stubborn, smart-assed head of yours, you might be surprised
and like it."
Ilana groaned. "I know there are decent men out there. I know
many relationships truly work. But I like my life the way it
is. If I didn't like it, I would have changed it. I'm in
charge. I'm in control. That's more than I can say about most
of the married women I know. If a guy loves you, he loves you.
He doesn't have to give you a wedding ring to prove it."
"Bullcrap, Ilana. If a man really loves you, he'll want you to
be his. He won't want to share you with other men."
She let out a heavy sigh. She'd had enough psychoanalysis for
the day. Probing her mind was like peeking under the bed when
you didn't want to find dust bunnies. All it did was remind
you that you needed to clean.
Her cell phone rang. "It's Cole," she muttered, reading the
"I thought you weren't seeing him anymore."
"I'm not." She'd broken it off with the cameraman the week
before, just after her disastrous visit to Fly Without Fear
For Dummies. True, he'd been a casualty of her shame over
failing at that venture, but he was due to take a hike anyway.
She'd been with him for a month, hadn't yet met anyone new,
and she'd grown bored. "I admire persistence in a man," she
told Linda, setting the phone to pick up the call
automatically. "Only not after I'm done with them."
Ilana's head jerked up. That's when she noticed the white news
van with the satellite dish on top.
"Hell. What do they want?"
"Probably a few questions answered about Holt," Linda assured
her. "Tell them how decadent you think he is."
"Yeah, right." Ilana lowered her voice. "I didn't think there
would be that much interest in him. Not enough to warrant a
van and a news crew. A phone call, maybe." She was an
independent filmmaker; she managed to make her films on
impossibly small budgets. She operated on the fringes of
Hollywood, with her chief purpose being getting her movies
made, the way she wanted to make them. The press didn't follow
types like her around.
A woman in a mint green Tahari suit, a killer manicure, and a
microphone in her hand waited in front of Ilana's car. Oh, no.
It was Rose Brungard. She hosted a small-scale version of
Entertainment Tonight, "Rose Knows," focusing on hot
celebrities and parties they attended.
Ilana made sure her eyes remained mostly hidden behind a
tangled curtain of curls. Whatever her opinion of Holt, she
wasn't going to feed a gossip's curiosity. The man deserved
his privacy, she thought, aiming her opener at the silver
electric Lura she'd parked at the curb.
Rose's perky voice startled Ilana. "With official word
reaching Earth today that Prince Ian Hamilton has chosen a
wedding date, Ilana Hamilton, twin sister to the man who will
become ruler of the entire galaxy remains the last of Earth's
newest royal family to remain unclaimed."
"Un ... what?" Ilana blurted out.
The woman thrust the microphone in her face. "Who will Earth's
Linda mercifully wedged herself between them. But the reporter
leaned sideways. "The word on the street is that you'll soon
announce your engagement, Ms. Hamilton. Who is your lucky guy?
Or should I say, your lucky prince?"
"I'm not going to marry a pr-"
Linda reached behind her back and pinched Ilana's thigh. "Ms.
Hamilton has been instructed by her family not to comment on
this subject at this time."
To Ilana's dismay, the reporter appeared charmed by her
silence, forced as it was, and not put out at all by Linda's
"This is such a Cinderella tale! Would you be willing to
appear on the show? We'll do an interview, tour your home."
She turned to her cameraman. "We'll need a shot of her in the
kitchen, cooking a romantic, alien dinner-for-two."
Ilana's vision blurred. Either from hunger or from shock.
Linda was inching her toward the car door.
"We look forward to having you on the show, Ms. Hamilton."
Rose winked. "And to finding out who the lucky guy is."
"But there is no-"
Before Ilana could finish, Linda shoved her into the car,
locking her in before she scurried around to the other side.
Linda landed in the passenger seat. Ilana looked at her.
"Aren't you going to buckle my seatbelt, too?"
"Drive," Linda ordered. "Before you talk yourself into
"With you or them?"
Ilana started the engine. As she pulled into the street, she
tried to smile at the reporter, though she suspected it looked
more like a grimace.
"Why did you have to say that, Linda? That I've been
instructed on what to say. No one has instructed me-in
anything. It's only going to whet their curiosity."
"It's already whetted, Ilana. It has been for months. Only now
that the guests have been invited, it's going to heat up.
You're the only one in your family who lives on Earth. And the
only one who's single. You're a natural target."
"I don't want to be a target. I just want to live my life. But
you didn't let me tell them."
Ilana gripped the steering wheel. "Damn right, I'm whining. I
deserve to whine." The flying clinic, the invitation, and now
this. All she wanted to do was crawl home and hide, order
Chinese and listen to the surf. "Besides, I've always been
able to whine to you," she added with a pleading smile.
Linda pushed aside her hair so she could see her face. "And
you always can," she said. "And I'm sorry about the whetting.
I said the first thing that popped into my mind. I'm a book
reviewer and your personal assistant. A retired teacher. I
never said I was a press agent."
Keeping her eyes on the road, Ilana reached across the seat
and squeezed Linda's hand. "I'll drive around a bit, give the
news folks a chance to clear out. Then I'll bring you back to
"Whatever it takes. I'm in no hurry."
Ilana gave Linda's hand one last squeeze. "Thanks."
They drove up and down the back streets. Then she merged onto
the freeway, heading back in the opposite direction, blankly,
as if she were driving on autopilot.
Her heart skipped a beat. Autopilot. Airplanes. Spaceships.
The beginnings of a headache pressed behind her eyes.
Cheesecake and a glass of chardonnay were hell on an empty
stomach. The last thing she need was a carb overdose when she
Her thoughts swung back to the news people. "She called me
"Well, you are, technically, an heiress, Ilana. To the
galaxy's richest family."
Ilana frowned. She'd never thought of herself as an heiress.
It wasn't denial, exactly; she just hadn't made that mental
leap with regards to her identity. Heiresses were people whose
names ended in Woolworth or Rockefeller, not women who bought
supermarket shampoo and used those dryer sheets to save on dry
She drummed her fingers on the steering wheel. "Word on the
street. The reporter said that, too. What the heck did she
mean? I haven't heard anything."
"Neither have I, if it makes you feel better."
Ilana had been combing newspapers, magazines, TV and the Web,
looking for inspiration for a new film, but nothing had yet
sparked her interest. She'd felt so ... uninspired.
Scriptwriters suffered writer's block. This must be
filmmaker's block. But if there had been gossip about her, she
would have found out.
She hoped tonight's incident didn't mean that her privacy had
come to an end. Other than an unlisted number and an assumed
name on her mailbox, she hadn't needed to do much to stay
anonymous, despite her family's high profile. Had that now
A strange suffocating sensation enveloped her.
"Are you okay?" Linda asked.
Ilana huffed. "If they think they're going to discover any
gossip-column-grade tidbits about my social life over the next
six months, they're going to be very disappointed."
And if they expected to see her hanging on some Vash prince's
arm, they were dreaming.
* * *
It was after eleven before Ilana finally pulled into the
carport below her building, across the street from the beach
in Santa Monica. There were twenty condominiums salvaged from
what used to be an old office building. Although the building
had a chronological age of seventy years, remodeling had made
the condos feel closer to five years old. Ilana had lived in
hers for three.
It was early-for a Friday night. Most of the other tenants'
spaces were empty. She gathered her purse, slipped her shoes
back on. Then she noticed an unfamiliar car parked by the
The engine was off. The interior lights were on. A lone man
sat inside, watching her.
Darkness shadowed his features. Cole? No. The guy didn't drive
a black Porsche. Neither did any of the other men she'd dated
recently ... that she knew of. She had no idea who the dude was,
only that his unwavering attention was doing a bang-up job of
giving her the creeps.
She shoved her hair out of her eyes. Great, just great. A
stalker would be the perfect ending to a perfect day.
Keeping an eye on the Porsche, she slipped her hand into her
purse. Her fingers closed over a cold, metallic tube. With the
can of pepper spray armed and ready, she opened the car door
and stepped out.
The stranger's car door opened, too.
Shit. He was dressed from head-to-toe in black. The
self-important way he carried himself spoke volumes about
confidence in his strength-and his purpose; he was tall and
solid enough to assure her that he could kick some butt if he
Stop it. She was letting her thoughts run away from her. She
did that when she was nervous. Nervous, yes. Not scared.
She slammed the car door behind her, locking it, and strode
toward her front door as if she meant business.
Her condo was two staircases up. She reached the alcove where
the stairs began, pausing to see if the man had followed her.
Her heart lurched, dumping a bucket-full of adrenaline into
her bloodstream. But her mounting fear didn't come close to
what she'd experienced in Flying Without Fear for Dummies.
Flying was a no-go. Pursuers, she could handle.
Yes, she acknowledged silently, pursuer. As far as she was
concerned, he'd just lost the title of creepy stranger. No one
who dressed in black and hunted women in the middle of the
Adding to her heebie-jeebies were the sunglasses she could now
see that he wore.
Shades. At night? Worse, they were mirrored wraparounds. But
he hadn't tripped over the trashcan; nor had he stepped on any
of the dog mines littering the wide swathe of grass that
separated the sidewalk from the building. He must be able to
He was definitely smooth. He reminded her of a highly paid hit
man-not that she'd seen one before, but she had a good
imagination. Too good, and it was freaking the daylights out
of her. Not that anyone she knew could afford a professional;
they'd have hired some guy named Eddie, a down-on-his-luck
ex-con with a potbelly and type II diabetes.
But what if someone she didn't know wished her harm?
Her thoughts sped off in a new direction. She was an heiress
now. If the reporter saw her that way, others did, too.
Heiresses got kidnapped and held for ransom. Her address was
private, but it wouldn't be that hard to figure out.
Enough! She dropped a roadblock in front of her racing
thoughts and hurried up the stairs. Halfway to the landing,
she whirled around, dismayed to find that in only a few, long,
determined strides the man had reached the bottom of the
staircase, half-hidden in the shadow of the building.
Her grip on the can of pepper spray didn't waver.
"Ilana Hamilton," he said.
Excerpted from The Star Princess
by Susan Grant
Copyright © 2003 by Susan Grant.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Jumbo jet pilot Susan Grant is a NY Times, USA Today bestselling, RITA award-winning author of science fiction, time travel, and action-packed romance featuring strong women and honorable men.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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A fabulous new addition to the Star series! This is the best book yet. I loved that the story unfolded in LA where I live. Ilana was a riot, and Che, well, he was too delicious for words. Read it and find out. I recommend this one highly!
Vash Nadah Prince Che Vedla seems adjusted to the fact that his former betrothed Princess Tee¿ah broke her vows to him and pledged to wed earthling Ian Hamilton. Che¿s adaptation is quite remarkable because he lost more than a bride; he lost his place as heir to the crown to the newcomer. Che¿s advisors believe he must restore pride in the monarchy by marrying a suitable princess though much of the recent scandal was caused by others including his house arrested brother Klark for trying to assassinate Ian. Knowing he has six months left as a bachelor, Che decides to use it wisely by chasing skirts on earth. He visits Ian¿s film making sister Ilana, but finds he is very attracted to her and she fells the same although she is in denial. However, with scandals rocking the royals and some people feeling their time has passed, can Che risk causing another mess by wooing the woman he loves, the totally unsuitable Ilana; who detests the concept of being in front of the camera as a royal always is. THE STAR PRINCESS is a strong science fiction romance that focuses on the complex conflict between the obligation to one¿s country vs. duty to one¿s self and loved ones. The star-crossed lead couple with a strong support cast makes Susan Grant¿s galaxy seem real and the dilemma that Che faces plausible. Though the previous two tales (THE STAR KING and THE STAR PRINCE) were powerful entries, THE STAR PRINCESS is the best of the series due to the hero¿s attitude and quandary. Harriet Klausner
This is one of those books you carry with you as a light hearted, enjoyable read. Packed full of intrigue, mystery, action and fun. Definitely worth a read! It definitely helps with passing time.
The Star Princess is Susan Grant¿s 3rd fantastic book in the Star anthology. Hopefully to become a series and far, far from over! Che and Ilana are wonderfully matched and so much fun and playful. Che¿s ultra sexy and so romantic. He puts the hunk in hunky¿ the honor in honorable. He can be my *bodyguard* any day. Ilana¿s fun, feisty, energetic and we all need a best friend just like her. The Star Princess has very well-written love scenes that are steamy, romantic and, shall we say, hot. Whew, very hot! There¿s a bit of intrigue, bets on the side (Ian-the big sweetheart-is back to rile his twin), a wonderfully sweet and unexpected secondary romance. Oh, and Tock! Lots and lots of Tock. Yum. (What¿s Tock? Read it and find out.) I also want to thank Ms. Grant for giving all us flying-phobes something to laugh about when we are forced to consider boarding a plane. Not that Sue ¿Ms.-I-can-fly-anything¿ would ever understand, but Ilana does. LOL! I so enjoyed reading this book. I whole-heartedly recommend The Star Princess. You will NOT be disappointed!!
I am a big fan of susan grant. I love all her books and this one was great. I hope she writes klark's story.That would be very interesting.