Author: Natasha Oakley
Copyright: 2007 (Harlequin); pgs. 186
Series: Harlequin Presents #2667; The Royal House of Niroli
Who: Princess Isabella and Domenic Vincini
Last year, I read Natasha’s book, Crowned: An Ordinary Girl and enjoyed it very much. I picked up The Tycoon’s Princess Bride, but I was worried that I would have problems following a story that was part of a multi-authored series. I needn’t have worried. The only thing that puzzled me concerned Isabella’s brother, Alex — which wasn’t important to Isabella’s story. Reading the blurb for his book answered my question. The book has a family tree and a list of rules of the Royal House of Niroli.
Princess Isabella of Niroli is determined to close a deal with hotelier Domenic Vincini of Mount Avellana. Isabella’s goal is to create the most fabulous resort in the Mediterranean. But years of animosity between the two islands — Mount Avellana broke away to become a republic — hinders the project. Domenic may not agree to the plan, even with the possibility of making millions off the deal.
Isabella may be a princess, but she’s so well-trained to be diplomatic at all times that she is afraid to give offense even when she has the opportunity to have something her way. At the moment, even her self-worth is suffering. Denied the opportunity to make her own life off-island by her grandfather, she devoted herself to the promotion of all things Niroli — being the perfect, well-behaved princess and ambassador, adored across Europe. Thanks to the rules and her old-fashioned grandfather, there is no possibility of her becoming queen. This is a slap in the face, as several of her male relatives have made lives for themselves off-island and have — one by one — given up their claim to the throne to marry the women they love. Score points for true love, but I hated them for putting Isabella in such an awkward situation. Irrational, I know, but I really felt for her. Isabella is sure one of her cousins will accept the role of crown prince and marry to please the king. Once this happens, Isabella is certain she’ll be out of a job. The hotel project and her plans for Mount Avellana, she feels, will give her life some purpose. Isabella would also like a family, but all anyone ever sees is the wealthy princess, not the person.
Domenic is a reclusive man. He’s lost family in a fire and was left physically and emotionally scarred. At first, he sees Isabella as nothing more than a fashion plate and can’t understand why the deal was left in her hands after her cousin Luca — who was originally handling the project — suddenly turned his attentions to other off-island interests. Domenic’s intrigued with her plans to make the resort mutually beneficial to both Niroli and Mount Avellana, and agrees to sign the deal — if she agrees to a good-will tour of Mount Avellana first. As he spend time with her, he begins to appreciate her more as a person — reassessing his original opinion — and he begins to fall in love.
Domenic understands her loneliness, and he even regrets insisting on a high-profile, event-filled tour. Even as he’s falling in love, he is rebelling against it. His scars have made him reluctant to appear in public, and he’s convinced that someone like Isabella — beautiful and always in the limelight — couldn’t possibly love, or desire, him. And even if she did, initially, the whispers and the constant reminders of his injuries would eventually become wearisome to her and she’d leave him. Domenic, heart shattered once before, doesn’t want to go through it again.
I thought that this book was very romantic. If you’ve never read a Harlequin Presents before, I would recommend this one especially if you liked tortured heroes. Domenic’s a nice guy, really — just a wounded soul. Isabella is lonely, but surprisingly well-adjusted for a princess in the spotlight.
Started: 21 July 2008
Finished: 23 July 2008