I must say I was a bit surprised at how much I actually enjoyed this book. Don’t get me wrong, the synopsis definitely caught my interest, but whenever we have a romance novel revolving around a prince I become somewhat hesitant. After all, there are only so many ways you can retell the classic Cinderella tale of a handsome prince falling in love with a commoner before you get a little bored. However, the Prince of Solana is in no way a simple fairytale. It incorporates an intense side-story, and also teaches us one of the most important lessons in life: never mess with a Texan.
Prince Andre has been exiled from his home of Solana for eight years now. Despite the fact that he hasn’t stepped foot in his home country for almost a decade, he finds ways to pass the time by surrounding himself with alcohol, women, and cards. His life of leisure is tragically interrupted when his father and brother are assassinated by a cartel hoping to take control of the small island nation of Solana. To escape this same gruesome fate, Andre and his most trusted bodyguard hide out on a remote cattle ranch in the heart of Texas. While a hired mercenary wreaks havoc on the people of his country, Andre has no choice but to remain hidden until the slow-moving diplomatic political process can restore order to his nation. Andre never expected his life to change so dramatically, just like he never expected short-tempered ranch-hand Gemma to affect him so greatly. She’s not afraid to speak her mind, something the cultured prince isn’t used to. Just as these two start to explore the passion which draws them together, their lives are interrupted yet again when the assassins discover where the exiled prince has been hiding.
Alright, before we really get started let’s take a timeout to admire the gorgeous hunk of male gracing the cover of this novel. I mean…will you just…oh me likey. The fact that he’s standing on a white sandy beach in front of crystal clear blue water is an added bonus. Rawr! Ok, I definitely need to work on my sexy growl.
There were two main features of this novel that I absolutely loved. Firstly, the balance between the romantic storyline of Andre and Gemma juxtaposed against the horror taking place on Solana was carried out to perfection. I have read a LOT of romance novels, and I think one of the most difficult things for an author to do when introducing suspense or drama into the plot is to not make it seem like an after-thought. Sheehey is an expert at smoothly transitioning from the sexual tension and extended foreplay happening on the ranch in Texas, to bringing us into the nightmarish hell of political upheaval in Solana. The mercenary who took control of the island is an extremely sinister character who brings a disturbing sense of reality to the entire situation. It’s easy to think that the handsome prince will come to save the day, but in the meantime we are presented with harsh descriptions of the murder, rape and torture of the people of Solana.
The second standout feature of this novel was the character of Gemma. Talk about a strong female lead who can not only take care of herself, but those around her as well. It was quite refreshing to read a novel where a woman actually protects the male lead for a change. Again, I was afraid at first that this would be a cheesy Cinderella story, but I wasn’t expecting Cinderella to know how to throw a punch or handle a shot-gun. Gemma likes to be in control in all she does, even when it comes to sex. It is so common to have the hero be the dominant one in the bedroom, but in this case Gemma likes to take the reins and be a cowgirl in more ways than one!
I also enjoyed seeing the evolution of Andre’s character from that of a selfish and spoiled playboy, to actually caring about someone other than himself. Not only does he come to whole-heartedly care about Gemma, but also the people of his nation. When his family was assassinated Andre had no intention to become involved in what was happening on the home front, but as time goes on he gains the courage to step up for his country. I can’t handle this kind of perfection in a male specimen!
There was one aspect of this novel which I thought was a bit far-fetched, and that was the ending. After the hired mercenaries fail to assassinate Andre, but succeed in burning down the cattle-ranch, Gemma accompanies Andre and his bodyguard to Solana to seek revenge. Don’t get me wrong, it was entertaining, but also rather fantastical for an exiled prince to return to his home country with a group of Texan ranch-hands in tow to overthrow a maniacal rebel group. Gemma was definitely a force to be reckoned with in Texas, but she may have been a tad out of her league strutting around in her cowboy boots in such a hostile environment.
Despite the somewhat sensational events which took place towards the end of the novel, I simply couldn’t put it down. I remember waking up one lazy Sunday morning with the intention of reading for an hour or so in bed before making myself a nice cup of coffee. Next thing I know it’s going on noon and I’m leaning over my Kindle with avid curiosity as to how this whole revenge scene is going to play out. You should consider yourself forewarned that although this is a romance novel, there is an obvious darker side to what happens on Solana throughout the entirety of the book. However, on top of all this drama we also see an unlikely relationship form between Gemma and Andre, and we have to wonder if a handsome prince and a bold cowgirl can truly have a happily ever after.
*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*
Series: Royals of Solana, book 1. I’m not 100% sure when book 2 will be coming out, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that I will be reading it. Can’t wait to see what happens next!
Should you read it? Yes! It’s almost the ideal beach read. Sure, there may have been some moments of cheesiness and unbelievability, but overall it was suspenseful, heartbreaking, sexy, sweet and funny. What more could you want? Oh yeah, I want book 2!!
Smut Level: There is a decent amount of build-up, but once these two go at it, they hold nothing back! She tells him what to do, he tells her how much they both want it, and there are moments where they lose themselves in the intense passion blossoming between them. Hummina yummina!!
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