Reviewed by Ambrea
In She’s No Princess by Laura Lee Guhrke, Lucia is the illegitimate daughter of an Italian prince and a notorious courtesan. She’s been confined to her father’s homes, convents, and schools for much of her life, but, of course, that hasn’t stopped her from being the biggest scandal of her father’s life. Exasperated by her behavior, Lucia’s father decides it’s best to marry her off before she causes anymore trouble—and that’s where Sir Ian Moore comes in.
One of Britain’s top diplomats, Ian is renowned for his ability to end wars and broker deals between the empire and its neighbor. Matchmaking isn’t really his forte; however, he’s never backed down from a challenge and he isn’t about to do so with Lucia. But as he spends more time with Lucia, as he helps her navigate the challenges of British high society, he discovers he doesn’t really want to marry her off to the next gentleman at her door and he’s not quite sure what to do about it.
For some reason, I adored this novel. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I just found She’s No Princess to be wonderfully whimsical, terribly amusing, and incredibly refreshing. You see, Lucia and Ian’s romantic entanglement is far from conventional. I mean, of course, it has the generic boy meets girl romantic plot; however, I found that their relationship didn’t culminate in small sacrifices as usual, but a series of selfish acts, which surprised me.
Most lovers (note: not all) usually do something foolish—or, in some cases, something selfless—that breaks apart a relationship. He sends her away for her own protection, or she leaves him because she believes he no longer wants a marriage and she doesn’t want to foist one on him; they uncover some hidden truths and accusations fly, or they do something they will save the one they love. It’s a tried and true scenario that has literally sold millions of books.
But both Lucia and Ian do something selfish—that is, they actively make decisions that are thoughtless and, confidentially, selfish. That’s usually not the way of things and, honestly, I was completely unprepared for it. It’s actually very refreshing, and it just shows that they aren’t perfect people. While I might not have gotten the happily-ever-after I wanted or expected, I wasn’t really that disappointed by such a different outcome. The variety made it worth it.
Besides its unconventional conclusion, I loved the relationship development between Lucia and Ian. I think it was nice to see Luca evolve as a character and, more to the point, I think it was nice to see a passionate, rebellious young woman who really pushed her boundaries and tried to establish herself as an individual. That doesn’t happen much in romantic historical fiction (for obvious reasons of historical accuracy), so it was nice to see a fairly believable scenario in which a young woman defied social expectations and, in some cases, tried to take her life into her own hands.
Granted, I don’t think I always understood her—and I definitely recognized her selfish tendencies—but I appreciated her. She’s flawed, but she’s so relatable. She’s contrary, she’s moody, she’s delightfully passionate, but, overall, she’s a good person and she’s a good character who manages to convey all the facets of the human personality, all the good and the bad, which I appreciated. Personally, I liked She’s No Princess and recommend it to any romance reader looking for a light read with a few unexpected twists up its sleeve.