|When I last reviewed Sandra Hyatt, I stated “if she can build on what she did right, she has a bright future.” In His Bride for the Taking, she did build on her strengths and she has written a book with a tried and true plotline but a very good romance.
The small country of San Philippe in the Mediterranean has a Crown Prince named Adam Marconi, and he has a younger brother named Rafe. Adam is the staid, calm political aspirant while Rafe is known as the playboy. Their father has decreed that Adam needs to marry and has strongly suggested he choose an heiress from a good family in Massachusetts; a family that has ties to their small island country. But Adam is very busy with the hundredth anniversary celebration coming up so he sends Rafe to pick up this girl and bring her to their country.
Alexia Wyndham Jones has grown up knowing about her family’s connection to San Philippe. In fact, when she was younger, she would often visit. She has had a crush on Adam for years, even though most of their connection recently has been through email and letters. When they were about eight, Adam “saved” her when Rafe threw a frog at her. She has always considered Adam the good prince and Rafe the “frog prince.” When she realizes that Rafe is the one who has come to get her, she is nervous. They inadvertently shared a torrid kiss a few years ago at a masquerade before either realized who the other was. She has never forgotten it.
Lexie is excited to go to San Philippe but is also scared that Adam will not like her. She is unaware that his interest in her is almost a formal royal decree. She has taught herself to hone down her natural exuberance, her natural adventurous spirit and her natural love of life to present herself as a confident, calm, conservative woman who will be an asset to the Crown Prince. That is what she is assuming Adam will want and that is what she has made herself.
Rafe however, sees and has seen the real Lexie. He watched her at the masquerade and knows she is passionate. He finds her out on the town incognito just before they leave Massachusetts. She is wearing a wig, an outfit very different from her normal conservative dress and he watches her sensual dance. He warns her he will be watching her but he never guesses that they will be thrown together enough for him to not only appreciate her beauty and sensuous nature, but that he will fall for that very woman he sees that she hides from others.
Lexie, meanwhile is confused that she is so attracted to Rafe and has grave misgivings about trying to marry Adam when she has such strong feelings for his brother. She resents him on the one hand, because he assumes he knows the real her. Yet, she is so attracted and cannot believe that she feels for him what she wants to feel for Adam.
This tale is nothing new. The plot is easy to guess and the predictable happens when one would assume it would happen. Yet, Sandra Hyatt has done a good job of setting up these two characters so that it is easy to like them and root for them. It is easy to see how they ended up in the situation they ended up.
One downfall is the lack of depth to Adam. Hyatt never really helps us understand him, so there is no real tension when Lexie picks Rafe. In fact, given what we know about Adam it is difficult to understand how she could even consider any other choice.
All in all, this is a fairy tale, as it was meant to be. His Bride for the Taking delivers in that simple, romantic way of category romance and it doesn’t try to be anything more. Enjoy.