The gimmick to accompany the conclusion of the Princess Diaries is this delightful historical romance written by series heroine Princess Mia Thermopolis ("with help from" Cabot, who is donating all proceeds to Greenpeace). Finn Crais is the resourceful daughter of a miller living in Stephensgate, England, in 1291. When Finn's older sister, Mellana, gets pregnant by a troubadour and has no money for a dowry, Finn agrees to carry out Mellana's ridiculous plan to abduct a wealthy man and hold him ransom, settling on Earl Hugh Fitzstephen, fresh back from the crusades and loaded with gold and jewels. Finn doesn't realize who it is she's captured, and Fitzstephen, owing to a curiosity about Finn and wanting to see where the kidnapping will lead, plays along. As to be expected, passions become enflamed, and Finn discovers her sister's plan may not be a simple as she originally thought. Though predictable, the novel is thoroughly enjoyable and funny. Cabot's fans, and particularly those graduating from the Princess Diaries, will be pleased, especially as they may have read brief excerpts in Forever Princess, the series finale (Reviews, p. 55). (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Selecting an author is the first oddity of this book. Is it Thermopolis, the fictional main character from Cabot's "The Princess Diaries" series, or is it Cabot, who in her introduction points out that similarities between the characters of Mia's imagination and those in Mia's (fictional) world are purely coincidental? Then there's the medieval setting that juxtaposes proper historical details with women who are saucily outspoken and in total control of their lives. As for the plot, it's simple and familiar: the fair Finnula, confirmed tomboy, kidnaps Hugo, the Earl of Stephensgate, on his return from the Crusades and angrily falls in love only to become a reluctant bride/lady. Before their happy ending, they uncover who's trying to kill Hugo and frame Finn while sharing their combative joy with family and friends. Is it new author Thermopolis writing a standard, formulaic romance, or is it Cabot poking fun at what can make some romance novels seem so cliché? With likable characters and snappy dialog, this book will be sought by Cabot fans of all ages; however, sex scenes prevent it from being suitable for her youngest readers.
When Finnula Crais learns that her older sister is pregnant, she agrees to participate in the tradition of "man-napping" to earn money for her sister's dowry. Her quarry is not what she expects: instead of kidnapping a lowly knight returning from the Crusades with his riches, she finds herself saddled with Hugo Fitzstephen, Earl of Stephensgate. Over the days in which Finnula holds him captive, they succumb to passion. When the truth about his identity comes to light, Finnula's brother and the earl himself insist that the two marry. The pair meets with adversity in the form of Hugo's cousin, who has mismanaged the estate in the earl's absence. However, despite murder attempts, suspicion falling on Finnula's past, and a great deal of misunderstanding, true love triumphs. While the secondary characters are drawn with broad strokes, both Finnula and Hugh are well-crafted characters with likable personalities and real depth. The setting seems well researched, with enough detail that readers can clearly picture this 13th-century English hamlet. Cabot, writing as Princess Mia Thermopolis, has imbued this novel with enough humor to counteract the sometimes overly earnest love story. Witty dialogue and a plot that contains plenty of twists and turns work together to keep even the most jaded readers turning the pages. Cabot fans and romance readers alike will fall in love with feisty Finn and her strong, passionate earl.-Karen E. Brooks-Reese, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA