A very enjoyable read, even though it is a bit heavy on the sensual/erotica side. I was close to giving this book 5 stars, but it seemed a bit lacking in the plotting / vivid settings and bit too heavy in the love scenes for me to give it the 5 stars. I prefer a novel in which the descriptive actions and settings is on equal footing with the banter, the dialogue; however, the banter and conversation overshadows the action and settings in THE RAVEN PRINCE.
Still, THE RAVEN PRINCE is too sweet, too fun to really dislike, even if the sensual passion and dialogue seem to reign supreme. Also, there's a bit of a discourse on feminism in the beginning of the novel which I really didn't care for.
I was surprised to read a novel which seemed to get stronger and stronger the more you read it. I was actually having the most fun in the second half of THE RAVEN PRINCE. The story within the story about the fairy tale titled The Raven Prince which gives the book its title was also very endearing.
Like most romance novels, the heart of THE RAVEN PRINCE belongs with our heroine Anna, as she breaks all social barriers and goes to whatever lengths necessary to claim her man.
The Story, possible SPOILERS.
Near-destitute thirty-one year-old Lady Anna Wren, widowed for 6 years, lives with her mother-in-law and seeks employment to improve her impoverished conditions. Although unbecoming of a lady, Anna reasons that it's better to take a hit in status than not live at all. This constitutes the first of many steps Anna takes to break out of her lady-like shell.
Enter our tall, dark, broad-shouldered and unforgivably rich Earl of Swarthingham, Lord Edward de Raaf. Known for his ugly visage due to his pox scars and rueful temper, he's chased away the last two secretaries and it falls on his pitiful and mercy-worthy steward Mr. Felix Hopple to find one in a day. Anna is at the right place at the right time, and though unheard, Mr. Hopple agrees to take on Lady Anna as the earl's secretary.
After Edward meets Anna as his secretary, tempers and passions flare and the story takes off from there. When Anna learns Edward plans to travel to London to satisfy his manly needs, she follows him and meets him at a stylish bordello as a masked temptress. When Edward finally discerns the identity of the masked temptress who seduces him for two nights in a row, the story couldn't get anymore fun.
My biggest complaint...
Not surprisingly, the range of depth in our heroine Anna's characterization far outshines that of our hero. It seemed all too easy to simply just kill off everyone from Edward's past life, his parents, his sister, his brother, his wife and his stillborn child. After Edward shares how his wife and child died, it came to a point like... c'mon enough already, okay, he has a tortured, wounded past, we get it already! I did appreciate how Edward wasn't a reputed libertine, and actually tries to make something of his estate before Anna. Still, Anna's characterization seemed far more interesting and realistic and Hoyt spends much more time with her obviously. Her desire and need to bear a child she couldn't with her first husband was poignant.
Despite Edward's egregious and fulsome wounded past, traces of feminism in the beginning and a little too much of erotica, the book settled on an enjoyable pace, ending very satisfactorily.