THE PRINCE'S BRIDE
Ever since she was a little girl, living in genteel poverty, Jocelyn Shelton has wanted to grow up and marry a rich prince. After her father dies and her brother takes over whats left of the family fortune, the girls have enough money to be given a season in London and a dowry.
Jocelyn believes herself about to be proposed to by the crown prince of Avalonia, Prince Alexei Pruzinsky. But before this clandestine meeting can occur, Jocelyn overhears some would-be assassins. Unfortunately, because of her refusal to wear her glasses she cannot see them clearly.
Rand, Viscount Beaumont, rescues her and must flee London with her in order to protect her life. He doesnt know that she quite literally never saw the villains. However, she cant leave London with him and not be married to him, so Rand must sacrifice his freedom to save her reputation.
Jocelyn believes her life ruined: no prince, no palace, no great wealth. Rand is only a viscount, or so Jocelyn believes, and he would seem to have little money. Still, Jocelyn comes to love Rand in spite of her thwarted expectations of marriage, and Rand learns that his 18-year-old bride is not quite as vain, shallow and mercenary as he originally believed.
The story moves along well, but that tried-and-true plot device of a quick marriage to save the heroines reputation strikes a false note here. And while Jocelyn improves upon acquaintance, she remains vain, shallow and mercenary until she learns those traits are detrimental to a good marriage. SENSUAL (Dec., 380 pp., $5.99)