Cinderella's Secret Agent

Engaging Sam

Fugitive Hearts

A Wish and a Dream

Under the King’s Command
by Ingrid Weaver
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1184, $4.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-27254-5
I have to admit that I wasn’t too optimistic when I first picked up this book. The whole “royal family” thing is not one of my favorite themes, and the “Navy SEAL” thing is getting kind of old. However, I am happy to say that Ingrid Weaver has demonstrated that she can take some rather trite elements and make them come alive by creating characters who are more than two dimensional. The romance alone in this book was good enough that I could almost ignore the royal family entirely.

Under the King’s Command is the latest in the Romancing the Crown series, which follows the exploits of the royal family of Montebello. This book deals with the discovery of Prince Lucas Sebastiani’s baby, as well as the investigation to discover the identity of the woman who murdered the king’s nephew, Desmond Caruso.

Naval Lieutenant Kate Mulvaney has been stationed in Montebello for the past seven months. While out jogging one night, she hears the cry of a baby. Upon following the sound, she discovers a suspicious looking woman with a baby. It appears that the woman is about to abandon the baby outside the hospital. Never being one to shirk her duty, Kate grabs the woman, and calls for help. The woman reveals that the baby is the son of Prince Lucas, and thereby the heir to the Montebellan throne. She claims to be the midwife who delivered the baby, and informs the police that a woman named Ursula Chambers is the murderer of not only Desmond Caruso, but also the baby’s mother, Jessica.

Naturally, the King, the Queen, and the Prince all rush to the hospital upon hearing the news. They are driven there by Navy SEAL Sam Coburn, who has arrived to advise the Montebellan police on how best to proceed with their investigation of Desmond’s murder. Sam is shocked to see Kate at the hospital. Five years ago, Kate and Sam enjoyed a hot, no-strings-attached type of affair while on leave. They haven’t seen one another since then.

Kate is having mixed feelings about seeing Sam again. Unbeknownst to Sam, his last encounter with Kate had ended in a pregnancy. Since they had promised one another to part easily, with no messy scenes, Kate decided not to tell Sam about the baby. At the time he was very focused on developing his career as a SEAL, and would not have responded well to being tied down. Kate had a miscarriage, suffered alone, and now lives with nightmares about the baby on a daily basis. The only thing she has left of the baby is a butterfly necklace she bought in the baby’s remembrance.

When King Marcus requests that Sam and Kate work together to head up the search for the notorious Ursula Chambers, Sam is thrilled to have the chance to be near Kate, but Kate is apprehensive. She feels guilty for hiding her secret from Sam, and reluctant to get involved with him again, although she feels very tempted to do just that. Together, Kate and Sam engage in an investigation that is never boring. The suspense of the mystery, combined with the tension between these two characters, made it difficult to put this one down.

In spite of all of the problems and concerns of the royal family, the romance between Sam and Kate never took the back seat. Without being repetitive and overly dramatic, Ms. Weaver was able to really draw the reader into the thoughts and feelings of these two characters. Sam is appealing, not only because of the strength and bravery he exhibits as a Navy SEAL, but also because he is very compassionate. When he dove down into some murky water to try to find Kate’s butterfly necklace (even though he doesn’t understand why it’s so important to her), I knew he was a keeper.

Kate is one of those “difficult” heroines. It was frustrating to watch this character shut herself off from Sam, who obviously cared about her. However, her fear of this relationship is somewhat believable. She is carrying around a lot of unresolved grief, and through sharing it with Sam, is finally able to let some of it go. In order to make their relationship work, both of these characters must examine their expectations for the relationship, as well as their willingness to commit.

Perhaps the best compliment I can pay Under the King’s Command is that I was compelled to keep reading until I was finished…this in spite of the fact that I was snowbound with two children under the age of six and two kittens who were intent on destroying my house! Fans of the Romancing the Crown series will not be disappointed by this installment.

--Kerry Keating

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