The first installment of the series “Romancing the Crown” is a gem. Built around the story of the missing heir to the Montebello throne, The Man Who Would Be King is a well-written romance that I hated to see end.
The hero is not Prince Lucas, the heir, but his cousin, Duke Lorenzo Sebastiani. Although everyone has assumed Lucas is dead one year after the plane crash, new evidence suggests he may still be alive. Lorenzo, as head of Royal Intelligence and next in line to the throne, is the natural choice to lead the investigation.
Newspaper reporter Eliza Windmere, who receives a tip from an eccentric Vietnam vet, Willie, offers the new evidence to the Royal Family. Willie, who lives in the mountains, has found Lucas’ scarf several miles from the crash site, suggesting he may be alive. Eliza, a “royal-watching” column writer for the Denver Sentinel, has hopes of a Pulitzer Prize, so she heads for the tiny Mediterranean island country to inform the King and Queen of her discovery.
The King sends her and Lorenzo back to the Colorado Rockies after Eliza agrees to keep the search quiet until Lucas is found. She is guaranteed an exclusive. They agree to travel incognito to protect Lucas since it is understood that the reason he has not come forward is because he is either hurt or in danger. Initially distrustful of each other, Lorenzo and Eliza show their maturity and the depth of their characters by rising above some petty differences and working together to find Lucas.
This action alone endears these two to me, but there is so much more. Lorenzo is cute and charming, but not at all the playboy persona he shows to the public. He is serious and a bit egotistical, yet he is willing to admit when he makes a mistake and lets Eliza take the lead in questioning when it becomes obvious she will get more information than he would. Eliza is a classic career woman, having sacrificed much to get ahead in her chosen field, yet she is intelligent and demonstrates her values of what is right and wrong by her actions.
I truly enjoyed their dialogue, the discovery of their feelings and their adventures. The writing is filled with a nice homey view of small town Colorado that makes me feel that I am riding along with them. The ornery editor, who is both friend and mentor to Eliza, adds a nice authentication of Eliza’s sincerity and integrity. And the relationship that Lorenzo has with the King assures me that he is as genuine as he seems.
The sexual tension is present and heightens the suspense, but the actual sex is handled with subtlety. When a sudden snowstorm strands them, things heat up nicely.
I do have to throw in one of my pet peeves. Because this is a series, the resolution of the prince is left hanging. I understand the marketing tool and it will probably work if the rest of the series is as well done as this story. But I prefer it to be a little less obvious that there are more books to come.
Thankfully, the romance is rich, full of depth and adventure that keeps Lorenzo and Eliza occupied while they fall in love. The strength of the romance allows me to recommend The Man Who Would Be King.