Monday, May 21, 2018

ARC Review: The Prince by Katharine Ashe

Series:Devil's Dukes #4
Pub. Date:May 29, 2018
Length:384 pages

The Prince is the fourth installment of the Devil's Dukes series, and one that I was anticipating after meeting our hero, Ziyaeddin, in The Duke. The Devil's Dukes are a spinoff of Ashe's Falcon Club series, which I have not read. I don't feel like you need to read the earlier books before embarking with The Prince, but if you want to read his introductory book, check out The Duke.

Our hero, Ziyaeddin Mirza, Prince of Tabir, is secretly living in exile in Edinburg as Ibrahim Kent, portraitist. Between his famed talent as a painter and his Middle Eastern descent, Ziyaeddin stood out in Edinburgh society. He was also a near-recluse, and a curiosity that people referred to as "The Turk" - making his paintings and company more coveted. The reasons for Ziyaeddin's exile were both sad and harrowing, and the isolation he felt leapt off the page. I had a great connection with his character, and I liked the pull he felt toward our unusual heroine. I also liked that he didn't put on airs. He didn't act like stereotypical royalty of the time. He wasn't self-important or pompous. He was self-sufficient and kind and mature. The princely aspect was a nice change of pace from duke and earls and marquis.

Elizabeth Shaw, daughter of renowned physician John Shaw, is a heroine like no other. Insanely intelligent and plagued by a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, Libby turned to medicine, specifically surgery, to quiet her mind. However, at the time, women were not allowed to practice medicine or attend medical school. In pursuit of her passion, we see Libby transform herself into Joseph Smart (with some help from our hero) and dazzle those in the medical community with her skill, ability and intelligence. Libby did not have the intent or desire to actually be a man, but rather saw becoming Joseph Smart as her only option to pursue her dreams, which were forbidden to women at the time. I would call her a feminist. When doors were closed to her, she found a way through... and never stopped fighting. I found her to be admirable and courageous, and wholly unique in the historical romance genre (at least from the books I have read). I liked her straightforwardness and lack of filter, though some of that would be attributed to her intelligence and possible psychological diagnoses. Her personality reminded me a bit of Sheldon Cooper, with some Asperger's, OCD and borderline asexuality all mixed in. The way her mind worked was fascinating.

The romance between Ziyaeddin and Libby was not quite a slow burn, but it was close. They had an interesting chemistry, and the pull between them was undeniable. I liked watching Libby face the desire head on and confess her thoughts and feelings to Ziyaeddin without dissembling. But Ziyaeddin's restraint and honor was just as impressive. Their banter was great, even if awkward at times. I almost felt like the romance took a back seat to their friendship and Libby's pursuit of medical school, but I was fine with that. 

I was a little surprised by the ending... but I'm gonna keep quiet on that to avoid any spoilers. Now I need to go back and pick up the Falcon Club series so I can learn the backstory on some of the other characters which appeared in The Duke and The Prince.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Avon.

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