A Royal Mission by Elizabeth August
(Silh. Romance #1446, $$3.50, G) ISBN 0-373-19446-3
***
Lance Grayson starts the story on a mission. Victoria Rockford has been kidnapped and his team, part of the Thortonburg Royal Security Detail, is supposed to rescue her. After he does, he realizes she canít help identify her kidnappers, who are still at large. As part of his job, he takes her to his own private cottage. Victoria, who takes some time to recover from the kidnapping, isnít altogether sure this man isnít one of the bad guys. After all, he wonít let her leave and then he starts telling her that she is the daughter of the Royal Duke of Thortonburg. To her mind, there is definitely something wrong with her rescue.

As time goes by she becomes more curious about Grayson and he has to start fighting an attraction to the soon-to-be-acknowledged daughter of the Duke. In fact she is going to be a Princess. Naturally, both of them become even more attracted to each other instead.

Hey, this is an updated fairy tale story so what can you say about it? It isnít a bad fairy tale. The characters are as believable as any characters can be in a fairy tale. Princess Victoria is a smart, capable young woman who keeps pushing Grayson to reveal his feelings. Grayson is a handsome and honorable hero. He is much more reserved than she is, since he has had a harder life and he is falling in love with a woman who definitely outranks him. He has to keep watching over her as long as the kidnappers are loose, which doesnít improve his state of mind, but definitely helps keep the romance going.

There are some touches of what could pass for reality. Princess Victoria is afraid that the Dukeís wife will be angry with her once she is acknowledged as the Dukeís illegitimate daughter. However, the Duchess is actually very gracious, unlike the man Victoria thought was her father all these years. There is some concern that publicity about her will make for bad press -- but her kidnapping and rescue makes for great press instead. Victoriaís confrontation with Grayson, where she tries to force him to acknowledge that he loves her, is handled nicely. Although he doesnít immediately give in, what he does do later to show his love is pretty impressive. After all, what could really go wrong in a fairy tale?

The real disappointment was that I couldnít believe anything ever would go wrong. Any reader can easily figure out that the kidnappers will eventually get their just desserts, as will the lovers. There wasnít any real flash of tension in the story. I wasnít asking for life or death drama, just the possibility that I would believe there might really be a chance that Victoria would be in real danger before the end. Even when she is shot at and Grayson is wounded, I always knew that was just to further their interest in each other.

Still, they are likable lovers so, cute fairy tale or not, I wanted them to be together at the end. Long live happily ever after.

--Irene D. Williams


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