Just the Way You Are

A Knight To Remember

Lost in Your Arms

My Fair Temptress

My Favorite Bride

My Scandalous Bride

Once A Knight

Once Upon a Pillow

One Kiss From You

Rules of Attraction

Rules of Engagement

Rules of Surrender

The Runaway Princess

Scandalous Again

That Scandalous Evening

Scottish Brides

Someday My Prince

Trouble in High Heels

A Well Favored Gentleman

A Well Pleasured Lady

The Prince Kidnaps a Bride
by Christina Dodd
(Avon, $7.99, R) ISBN 0-06-056118-1
With The Prince Kidnaps a Bride, Christina Dodd wraps up a trilogy about the three lost princesses of Beaumontagne and how they find their way home. The novel is standard Dodd fare: alpha male locking horns with ultra-feminine female, no-holds-barred sensuality and a strong dose of silliness that occasionally passes as wit.

Princess Sorcha is the eldest of three princesses who were hidden abroad when revolution threatened their fairy-tale country. While this plan sounds like a good one, itís a little difficult to accept that the princessesís whereabouts have been completely forgotten. Did the entire country succumb to Alzheimerís?

Be that as it may, Sorcha has been living more or less happily in a convent in Scotland until a fire makes the mother superior suspect the princess is in danger. She disguises her protťgťe as a young boy and sends her on her way to her homeland (apparently, the good woman doesnít suffer from any memory loss). Once on the road, Sorcha is joined by the fisherman she befriended in the convent.

The simple-minded Arnou is, in fact, Prince Rainger, the deposed crown prince of the neighboring realm. He was betrothed to Sorcha at birth but was believed to have been killed by the revolutionary forces. As it turns out, he survived a living hell in the dungeons before escaping. This makes him all the more determined to win back his country from the sadistic and inept rebels.

Sorchaís memory-challenged grandmother has promised Rainger troops on the condition that he marries one of the lost princesses. Sorcha is at the top of his list partly because of their past affiliation, partly because the other princesses are already happily married. Because Rainger knows she didnít like him very much as a teenager, he decides not to reveal his identity. In the course of their road trip Sorcha falls for the simpleton only to turn against the prince when she discovers she has been tricked. The last third of the book covers their reconciliation and their rightful return to the throne.

Sorcha is one of those born-yesterday heroines who can be totally annoying if taken at face value. Can someone be so naÔve she never notices that people are seeing through her disguise? Can someone who claims to have pleasured herself in a convent not know she is in the company of prostitutes? Can she really go for miles without realizing there might be something behind Arnouís extraordinary efficiency?

Normally, such ingenuousness would have had me grinding my teeth. Instead I found myself enjoying Doddís tongue-in-cheek renditions of familiar romance devices and in particular the girl-dressed-as-boy ploy. Dodd also does a rather good job with wedding night humor.

It was harder to warm to Rainger. True, his story is much darker, but even that doesnít entirely justify his heavy-handed alpha attitude and his inexplicable need for secrecy and deception. After a few miles in Sorchaís company he should have realized that she would marry him. Instead he digs in his heels and turns on his sexual arsenal, using his experience and their mutual attraction as a means to control her. This kind of male pig-headedness and power-lust dogs other Dodd heroes, but sheís pulled it off better in the past.

Despite my discomfort, the pages kept turning and for a while I lost myself in the story. In the end, that must count for something.

--Mary Benn

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