To Protect a Princess by Jess Michaels
Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: Regency Royals #1
Publication Date: 7/20/21
Period: Regency London
Number of Pages: 212
This was a delicious beginning to what I think will be a great new series for this author. I like the premise – the royal family of a small island nation pays an official visit to England and end up finding love with the most unexpected – and perhaps inappropriate – people. I adored each of the characters and could feel them chaffing at the weight of the crown and the demands it put on them. Each member of the family finds their own unique way of dealing with that weight and I had to admire how caring and open they were with each other while displaying a united front to the public at large.
Captain Jonah Crawford loved the navy and was so very happy to make it his life’s work. He wasn’t exactly thrilled two years ago when he was appointed to accompany the Prince Regent on a Crown visit to the small island nation of Athawick, but he knew it was an honor to be selected. However, when he looked up to watch the royal family of Athawick greeting the English visitors, he was dumbstruck. The royal princess, Ilaria, had to be the most beautiful and alluring woman he’d ever seen – and when her eyes locked with his – well, it was all over for him. He knew nothing could ever come of that attraction – after all, she was a royal princess and he was … not. He knew their friendship would be a short one and would end when he left Athawick – all he had to do was protect his heart and fight the attraction until then. But … two years later …
Princess Ilaria, only sister to the new King of Athawick, is strong, beautiful, intelligent, and very independent – she’s also very shocked and dismayed to learn that her mother and brother intend to arrange a marriage for her. A marriage that will enhance the relationship between Athawick and England, but not necessarily one that will make her happy. They’ll give her some leeway in the selection – but not much. All of her life, Ilaria has witnessed her mother’s mistreatment and unhappiness due to an arranged marriage and she cannot believe they want that for her. She knows she’ll eventually have to go along with what they want, but, in the meantime, she’ll thwart their efforts as much as possible. She has to have some breathing room – some freedom. The man they are focusing on for her seems to be a nice enough man – not cruel – but she feels not one iota of attraction for him, nor does he seem to have any for her.
It doesn’t take long for Jonah’s and Ilaria’s attraction to rekindle – it happens as soon as they see each other. Jonah is determined to avoid the princess – until his friend, her brother the king, asks him to keep an eye on Ilaria to keep her safe because he is sure she is up to something. GRRRROAN! How can he keep her safe and protect his heart at the same time? Then, when she is in real danger from the political intrigue that has followed them from Athawick, he has no choice. Can he protect her, keep her safe, protect her reputation, and then manage to let her go to the marriage that will be arranged for her? He knows both of them are in for a lifetime of pain. Can they endure it? It appears they will have to.
I absolutely loved both Ilaria and Jonah. Both were such adorable, admirable, and honorable characters. I can certainly see where they could/would love each other, but I didn’t see that actually happen on the page – all I saw was the lust. They only started to get to know each other toward the end of the book when they were doing some soul searching. I also didn’t understand enough about the political intrigue that was threatening Ilaria’s life. Evidently, it will be the overarching mystery through the books in this series and I’ll be happy to learn more about it.
I can definitely recommend this book and this author. It is well-written and well-delivered with compelling characters and an engrossing mystery. Mostly though, it is a steamy, make-you-heart-beat-faster, romance that you will absolutely love.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.