Kiss Me, Kaitlyn

Rich, Rugged…Royal
by Cynthia Rutledge
(Silh. Romance #1771, $4.25, G) ISBN 0373-19771-3
Royalty in category romance is a staple and it seems hard to believe that there is a stone left unturned in terms of finding a plotline that hasn't already been written. Rich, Rugged…Royal uses many of the traditional lines, but with a bit of twist that pushes it into four heart territory.

Alexander Gabrielle is the eldest son of the current queen of Carpegnia, a small kingdom in the Mediterranean Sea. His mother decides to hold off naming an heir until the three sons have time to prove to her which one is most deserving. Alex decides to try to live within his means; getting a job and living just off what he makes. He feels like this will show his mother he is serious about wanting to be King.

Lauren Carlyle is a kindergarten teacher in St. Louis. All of her friends are married and at age thirty, her mother is pushing men at her all the time. Lauren meets Alex at the wedding of a friend in Chicago. They hit it off and he charms her into a one-night stand. Both feel the attraction and yet recognize they will never see each other again.

Lauren and Alex are both surprised when they meet again in St. Louis. Lauren's friend, a singer, has just hired Alex to organize her European tour. Lauren is in financial straits, trying to live in an expensive townhouse on her teacher's salary. She is looking for a roommate. It is very convenient that Alex is looking for a temporary place to stay. Things being what they are, the two agree to share the townhouse, but without the intimacy experienced their one night in Chicago. There is one catch in all this…Lauren doesn't know Alex is a prince. She thinks he is a regular guy.

The story is predictable. Little that happens is unexpected. Yet the story flows and the relationship between these two is believable because they act like people who are thrown together by chance. Lauren holds to her scruples and Alex admires her for that. He is a gentleman and agrees that neither of them is looking for long term. So it makes sense to keep it at a friendship level. Their growing attraction as their friendship grows makes this hard.

I enjoyed the fact that Lauren has faults and works at overcoming them. She loves to shop and this helps relieve her stress. Unfortunately it hurts her budget. So when she splurges, she suffers in taking the things back. Alex never looked for love or "home" yet finds himself enjoying the domesticity. His inner discussion when he has to wash dishes is hilarious!

There are predictable consequences from their one night stand, and Alex's royalty does cause complications. But both are handled in a bit of a unique way, adding to the entertainment. Rich, Rugged…Royal is traditional category romance. But it is enjoyable and fun to read…what more could a reader ask for?

--Shirley Lyons

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