The Monarch’s Son by Valerie Parv
(Silh. Romance #1459, $3.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-19459-5
The Monarch’s Son is the first book in Valerie Parv’s “The Carramer Crown” series. Carramer is a fictitious island kingdom in the South Pacific ruled by Prince Lorne de Marigny. The subsequent books in the series will feature the Prince’s brother and sister, but the initial story belongs to Lorne.

Australian tourist Allie Carter was planning a relaxing afternoon swim at Saphir Beach in Carramer, when the undertow suddenly pulls her into deeper water. She knows fighting the rip current would be a fatal mistake, so she allows it to take her and eventually is able to struggle to shore, miles from where she started.

Allie is rescued by a man on the beach who insists she go to his home to be seen by a doctor. It doesn’t take long for Allie to realize the man is Lorne de Marigny, the reigning monarch of Carramer, and that he’s not accustomed to taking no for an answer.

While staying in the Prince’s villa, Allie meets and is charmed by the monarch’s son, Nori. Since Lorne is a widower and gossip is a concern, he decides Allie should join his staff as companion to his young son, while she is recuperating from her near drowning.

Naturally sparks fly whenever Lorne and Allie are together. At one point, Lorne’s overbearing attitude provokes Allie into slapping him across the face. Lorne retaliates by employing a rarely used form of punishment called a personal bond, to coerce Allie into remaining in his employ for the next two months.

Although Allie reluctantly agrees to her punishment, she spends most of the time being a thorn in Lorne’s side. She reminds him far too much of his difficult late wife, who was also an Australian and far too independent for his taste. Yet the punishment backfires for Lorne when it becomes apparent that he is falling in love with another woman who does not want a part of the fishbowl existence of royal life.

Every part of this book felt over the top: Washing up on the beach at the feet of a prince. Suddenly, and with no references, working in a royal household caring for the prince’s son, who also happens to be heir to the throne. And the bit about the personal bond threw the believability of the plot into the stratosphere.

Neither Lorne nor Allie are sympathetic characters. Lorne is, as you would expect from a reigning monarch, arrogant in the extreme. He reduces Allie to frustrated anger in their every encounter. I understand her reaction to his arrogance, but her inability to manage her anger makes her appear childish. There is no excuse for one character to hit another.

I admit I’m not a big fan of royal romances, primarily because I prefer my romances to be somewhat grounded in reality. Reality never entered the picture here. But if you’re looking for pure escapism with a royal touch, then maybe The Monarch’s Son might work for you.

--Karen Lynch

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