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The Prince's Bride
by Julianne MacLean
(St. Martin, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0312-55281-7
This is the third book of the Royal Trilogy but you won't have to read the other tales to fully appreciate this story. The author has written a rich story with many ups and downs with a honorable and yet vulnerable hero and a feisty heroine that a reader will embrace.

Nicholas is the Prince of Petersbourg and is the brother of the king. He is in France at the end of the Napoleonic Wars to help settle the peace. With a reputation as a womanizer and a man who scandal follows, he is not surprised to have a lovely woman entice him to her carriage during a masked ball. Veronique Montagne is in dire straits since her father gambled away her family's home. She agrees to a plot with the Marquis D'Entremont to get the Prince to his estate in exchange for the deed to Montagne Estate. Using laudanum and her wiles, she kidnaps him.

The plot was not a traditional kidnapping. The Marquis is dying and reveals that he and Nicholas's mother had an affair and he is the result of the affair. With his other children now all dead, he leaves his inheritance to Nicholas. Reeling from the revelations, Nicholas realizes that he is entranced by Veronique and he proposes marriage.

The story is one of love and discovery. They must learn to trust each other, even as everything they thought they knew about their lives has changed. Nicholas comes to believe that his mother was not the woman he knew, but he also knows that she always believed in him before her death when he was young. His father, the King, never treated him well, often degrading him for his choices. Nicholas thought it was due to the fact that he was the spare, but now knows it was the knowledge that he was a bastard.

Veronique is a strong heroine. She is willing to go to strong depths for her family and once she realizes she loves Nicholas, she supports him and believes in him. When she is confronted by his past, she doesn't wallow, but instead confronts him and helps him see that he is a good man and a man who does want to live up to her view of him. And when events occur that force them to confront the past, they come through with shining colors.

Julianne MacLean has delivered a winning story in The Prince's Bride. Enjoy.

--Shirley Lyons

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