Prince of Charming by Karen Fox
(Jove, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-515-12974-7
Kate Carmichaelís world is falling apart. Zelma St. John, the woman who for years was like a grandmother to Kate, has recently passed away without leaving a will and it appears Kate will be evicted from the only home sheís ever known. That is if Zelmaís only living relative, Adam St. John, has anything to say about it.

Since Zelma has always maintained Kate will be provided for after sheís gone, Kate is certain a will is stashed somewhere in the sprawling Victorian home. Determined to make a thorough search, Kate examines every nook and cranny. Even removing the large portrait from the library wall.

The old portrait had always been a source of interest for Kate and Zelma. The identity of the man who stared back at them was a mystery, but they both agreed he was irresistibly handsome. While scrutinizing the back of the portrait, Kate is able to make out some faint writing. What appeared to be the manís name...Robin Goodfellow.

In saying the manís name aloud, Kate somehow frees Robin from the portrait in which heís been trapped for over two hundred years.

Robin Goodfellow is the son of Oberon, the King of the Fae. Robinís mother was a beautiful country maiden who caught the eye of the King and their short affair produced Robin. Much to the dismay of Titania, the Queen of the Fae, and Oberonís wife.

After living for six hundred years in the mortalís world, Robin makes the mistake of searching out his father in his magical realm and, instead, comes face-to-face with Titania. She is not pleased to meet the result of her husbandís affair and promptly casts the spell that traps Robin in the painting. He can only be released if a mortal says his name in the presence of the portrait. A mortal with faerie sight.

Naturally, Kate thinks this is all nuts, even if the guy is a dead ringer for the man in the portrait. Kate quickly shows him out the door. But when she turns around, Robin mysteriously appears right in front of her. It seems Kate has freed him from the portrait, but the spell is not completely broken. Robin is now tied to whoever released him. Itís now up to Kate to help Robin locate the land of the Fae and convince Titania to undo her spell.

Since they cannot travel more than fifty feet apart without being zapped back into the otherís presence, the attraction that has been simmering between them quickly leaps out of control. But Kate knows there can be no future to their relationship. Once Robin locates the land of the Fae, heíll be lost to her forever.

There are lots of intriguing touches woven into the story. I was especially interested in how author Karen Fox would handle daily living when both characters must remain within fifty feet of one another. The device worked surprisingly well and opened the way for some delightfully funny scenes.

The issue of Robinís appreciation of Kateís rotund figure hits home for anyone who has struggled with their weight. Robin is a contemporary of Peter Paul Reuben and finds Kateís proportions quite pleasing. Much to her disbelief.

With so much to like, Iím not exactly sure why Prince of Charming left me flat. The characters do spend an inordinate amount of time spinning their wheels while they search for Nic Stone, a painter who can show them the portal to the land of the Fae. (When the location of the entrance is finally revealed, itís really quite witty). Iím sure the search was to allow time for Kate and Robin to develop their relationship, but things just seemed to go around in circles.

While I tend to prefer romances more grounded in reality, if youíre a reader that really enjoys a fantasy romance, Iíd suggest giving Prince of Charming a try.

--Karen Lynch

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