Elsa may be the Hereditary Princess of Vattenguldia, but she finds the entire situation archaic and unsavory. While she wants what’s best for her country, she isn’t about to jump into an unwanted relationship—let alone a marriage—with a virtual stranger. Of course, her feelings matter little to her parents, whose wheeling and dealings over trade pacts and alliances achieved at her expense begin the moment they set foot in California for the Summit. So when a blindingly handsome royal runs into her, she doesn’t hesitate to tell him there’s no way she’s marrying him.
Christian is all too happy to agree: no marriage. As the Hereditary Grand Duke of Aiboland, his main goal is to get through the summit without a bride being foisted on him. Which is why he suggests they help each other field potential intendeds. As Christian slowly gets to know Elsa, though, he realizes they have a lot more in common than just their feelings about the Royal Marriage Market. Only he can’t fall for her, because royal or not, they’re not meant for each other.
Elsa and Christian will have to evaluate matters of the heart verses those of state and crown, and decide whether or not tradition trumps love.
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I am huge fan of Heather Lyons and she is an automatic one-click author for me. When she announced her first contemporary book, I was excited to see her delving into a new genre. I was elated after reading the synopsis and seeing her plans to give readers a modern day fairy tale involving a true princess and prince. Despite it’s lighter subject matter, it is brilliantly written and flows beautifully from the first chapter until the last. Ms. Lyons creates unique but realistic countries and situations for the background of her story. Her descriptions of Hearst Castle are brilliant and it is like having a first rate tour of the historic treasure. Even though this involves a princess and prince, so much of the story is simply a boy and girl finding what matters.
I would rather have nothing that something that isn’t true.
Elsa is the quintessential Heather Lyons’ heroine. She is feisty and head strong, and I instantly adored her character. Despite being a princess, Elsa is a somewhat free spirit but has firm grasp on her duties as heir to the throne. Christian is everything we dream of in a prince, but underneath his dashing appearance, he possess a kind soul and intelligence. Elsa and Christian certainly have chemistry, the sexual tension is complete torture at times. However, their banter is even more endearing, and some of my favorite scenes involve their laughter and ability to make another smile.
“I’m rather taken with your laughter, you know.”
In addition to the main plot of Elsa and Christian, there is an intriguing supporting cast as well. These characters enhance the overall story line and give it more depth. While this is considered to be a stand alone book, I would be elated if some of the minor characters have books in the future. Heather Lyons has made no mention of this, so it just my wishful thinking at this point.
“Ah. How very interesting. Who do you think he was cavorting with at such a late hour?”
“I think the better question is, who wasn’t he cavorting around with?”
“Me.” I smile brightly. “And you. Our cavorting was limited to a very exclusive party of two.”
“Is that what we were doing? Were we cavorting?”
We were falling in love, I think. Wonderfully, miserably, tragically, beautifully falling in love. Or at least, I was. But I say, “Of course. You and I are natural cavorters.”
Bittersweet amusement sparkles in his eyes. “I thought our thing was to run amuck.”
“That, too.” I gently touch the back of his hand. “We run amuck and cavort.”
The smile on his face softens. “Only with each other, though. We cavort best when it’s with the other.”
“Shall we make a deal then? Shall we swear to the other that, when it comes time to cavort, we must only do it together?” My words are light, so is my tone, but part of me crumbles within, knowing what I jokingly request will never come to be.
Gravity invades his face as he shifts on the seat toward me, knees brushing up against one another. I am trapped by his gaze, motionless with his leg pressed against mine. “That’s a promise I can easily make.”
I am still as the golden princess before us when he slowly, gently pushes stray hairs freshly escaped from my ponytail behind my ears. The feel of his fingers, light as breezes against my cheeks, leaves me hot and desperate.
“Shall we shake on it?” I whisper.
The muscle within my chest ceases its rhythm when he shakes his head. He stares at me then, as if he is unraveling all my atoms, rendering me exposed and vulnerable.
But then he leans forward, lips caressing one corner of my mouth and then the other. “All the best agreements,” he murmurs, words just as soft as mine, “are sealed with a kiss.”
I consist only of nothing but exposed nerve endings when I replicate his promise. My lips tingle, my heart hammers, and tears swarm my closed eyes. “You have my promise in return.”
He tilts his head up, mouth pressing against my temple before resting his forehead against mine. “I’m going to hold you to that, Els.”
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Heather Lyons writes epic, heartfelt love stories and has always had a thing for words. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. She and her husband and children live in sunny Southern California and are currently working their way through every cupcakery she can find.