Max Romanovin, Oxenburg’s warrior prince, is escorting his grandmother to a house party deep in the Highlands when he and his entourage are robbed at sword point by a group of ruffians led by a man the locals have dubbed “The Scottish Robin Hood.” The battle-savvy prince instantly realizes there’s something different about this thief, and it’s not just the Scottish accent—it’s the fact that “he” is really a “she.”
Lady Murian, a young widow out for revenge against the powerful earl who killed her husband and stole his birthright, is now living in the woods with her family’s banished retainers. To stay alive, she and her band of men rob rich nobles coming to visit the evil earl. But when she ambushes the Prince of Oxenburg’s golden coach, she gets far more than she expected. For when the prince uncovers her true identity, she’s afraid that he might be the real thief…of her heart.
Publisher and Release Date: Pocket Books, September 2015
Time and Setting: Regency Era, Scotland Highlands
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars
Review by Sara
In The Prince and I, author Karen Hawkins continues to introduce the princes of her fictional kingdom of Oxenburg to the wilds of the Scottish Highlands. These commanding and intimidating men are nothing when faced with the proud and determined women of the region. Here, the general prince Maksim Romanovin is continually outflanked by the leader of a small band of thieves leading their own battle against a cruel landholder. Lady Murian Muir fights to preserve her late husband’s legacy and protect her people while keeping herself strong in the face of dangers that could challenge even the toughest man.
Like Robin Hood of old, Lady Murian takes to the forests around her former home to strike out at the man who is responsible for her husband’s death, Lord Loudan. In the guise of a highwayman, she and her band of former servants collect money and the supplies they need to survive until the true lord of the lands returns from the war against Napoleon. While travelling to meet with Lord Loudan, Prince Max and his grandmother fall prey to Murian’s traps and are told of the treachery of their host before being relieved of some valuables. Max, intrigued by the sword wielding woman who got the drop on him and his battle tested men, makes it one of his goals while in Scotland to confront the woman a second time to learn the truth of what is happening at Rowallen Castle.
The allusions to the Robin Hood legend are cute but sometimes laid on a little too thick for me. It seemed as though Ms. Hawkins had the old Kevin Costner Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves movie playing in the background as more and more characters and set-ups were pulled right out of the film and so that less of the book seemed to be an original story. It was probably enough to have Maid Marion turned into Lady Murian along with her own band of Merry Widows in the forest, but we also got a big Little John, a moody Will Scarlet with a similar backstory and the idea of one brother betraying another for power and lands. Folding in the prince and his men felt awkward since they didn’t have as much at stake as the people in Murian’s camp and had nothing to do with the Robin Hood tale. Lord Loudan’s menace was kept too low key until the end to make him a threat, leaving him less the Alan Rickman version of a Sheriff of Nottingham and more the bumbling Prince John from the Disney film.
I liked that Murian isn’t just waiting for a handsome prince to come and save her from hardship. She has faced tragedy head on and is strong enough to become a leader to all the people displaced by Lord Loudan. She’s a good match for Max as he is a strong leader who needs someone willing to talk with and challenge him rather than just follow his orders. Their attraction is based upon more than just a physical attraction, stemming also from a respect for all they have accomplished on their own. Murian is an experienced woman,who owns her passions and desires and I enjoyed that aspect of her character.
Overall The Prince and I was enjoyable but a little uneven. The challenges to romance for Max and Murian seemed overly simple but the story itself was still entertaining. I did enjoy the book’s light-hearted tone and will definitely read the next story of the crown prince of Oxenburg as he finds his own Scottish lass to love.