The Princessís Bodyguard
by Beverly Barton
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1177, $4.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-27247-2
****
Oh no, I thought, another story about the princess of a small country nestled in the European mountains and her handsome commoner. Familiar story, familiar characters.

Familiar though they may be, The Princessís Bodyguard is a delightfully romantic tale that I enjoyed. Beverly Barton has infused this story with a sensible, intelligent princess, an interesting man and enough twists and turns to keep the plot fresh and fast-paced.

Princess Adele Reynard has been betrothed to her distant cousin, Duke Dedrick, for many months. Her nuptials are scheduled for one month from today. She and some of her trusted advisors suspect Dedrick of being a member of a treasonous Royalist group who want to take over the country, join with a neighboring state and return to the dictatorship of old. Adeleís father, the king who rules alongside an elected council, does not believe Dedrick could be so dastardly.

Adele is determined to buy time to allow for evidence to surface proving her theories. She decides to run away, first to a male friendís villa and ultimately to another country and another friendís estate.

King Leopold is furious with his daughter. He hires the Dundee Agency, an American firm with a wonderful reputation for efficiency and discretion. Matt OíBrien happens to be in Paris enjoying a little R&R and he is the closest agent. Off he goes to find the Princess and return her to her father.

Finding her is easy. Getting her to come peacefully is much harder. Her pleas fall on deaf ears, until they are almost run off the road and then she is almost kidnapped from her hotel. It seems the Royalists have decided that if Adele dies, ostensibly by accident, Dedrick will be named the successor, as he is the only living relative.

Matt begins to see that Adele may be in danger and sets out to help her hide so that evidence can be discovered. He even calls in two Dundee agents to assist one of the advisors. Now the trick is to keep Adele safe.

The action is explosive and fast moving. The intrigue is suspenseful. There were several possible scenarios and Barton keeps us guessing until the end.

Meanwhile, the budding relationship between Matt and Adele includes humor, lust, understanding, discovery and several clashes of wills. Adele is not a helpless royal. She has backbone and strength, without being ostentatious or annoying. In fact, although she has her moments of snobbery, she is a very down-to-earth princess. This makes her more likeable but does lend to the feeling of fantasy, which in this case, fits in with the story.

Matt is macho without being overly chauvinistic. He shows some vulnerability but doesnít dwell on things. He struggles with his feelings and realistically recognizes that he is not meant to be a Prince Consort for anyone. It rings true as does their growing feelings despite it.

Adeleís friends are a little bit on the unbelievable side, but add some of the sense of fantasy that is needed in a story of this type. After all, it is not everyone who has friends who live in a castle-like villa and who own a yacht.

Overall, Barton has taken a tried and true plot line, added two entertaining characters, thrown in some intrigue to keep the story moving and balanced it all with a finely written happy ending. The Princessís Bodyguard is more than just another princess story.

--Shirley Lyons


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