When his half brother Austin declares himself King, Crown Prince Dalmas of Ashdowne is forced to flee his castle or be put to death for treason. On his way to find proof Austin's claims are false, he prevents the imminent sexual assault of a beautiful young woman, killing Castle Guards in the process.
Fleeing a forced betrothal, Ravenna LoPresti of Wythmail finds herself a reluctant companion to sexy, lustful Dalmas on his journey to find the truth and win back his rightful Crown. While Austin and his Guards chase Dalmas, a Royal Proclamation declares a price on Ravenna's head as well.
Dalmas and Ravenna awaken each other's sexual desires, but will lust and growing love keep them together, even if they find the proof Dalmas needs? Or will Ravenna be forced to return to her kingdom and marry the Count, or be put to death for a murder she didn't commit?
The positive points:
Carolyn Rosewood's writing is smooth, and her hero and heroine come to life quickly. The Crown Prince on the run for his life and the young widow trying to escape a second arranged marriage were both deftly and sympathetically sketched. The plot involves political twists and convoluted laws, and Ms. Rosewood never loses track of any of them. She keeps the tension high both by giving the hero pursuers and traitors and by giving the heroine a rapidly dwindling amount of time to escape. The attraction between the hero and heroine is believable and sweet, and at the end, as the couple settle into a happily-ever-after, their declarations of love are both satisfying and right. The couple have gone through a great deal together, and their happy ending is deserved and gratifying. The heroine, in particular, was refreshingly free of irritating harshnesses added simply to make her seem "tough". Instead, she had an unexpected courage that was pleasing without being cloying.
The negative points:
The largest negative points were some of the plot points in the political intrigue. Some of the laws of the Crown Prince's land had the feeling of being made up simply to provide difficulties for the hero and heroine. In the hero's kingdom, the child of a prince or king by one of his official "courtiers", as they are called in the book, is accounted legitimate, whether the child is conceived before or after the king or prince's marriage, but if the king or prince does have sex with a courtier after his marriage, he is guilty of adultery, a crime punishable by death. This is not the outcome of any natural, legal evolution; this is a plot device. Furthermore, the mystery surrounding the death of the heroine's first husband does not show up until too far into the book, so it does not get sufficient development. It felt tacked on, as well. However, though these aspects did pull me out of the story, they did not ruin a story otherwise engaging.