Review – Loving the Prince by Nicole Murphy

loving the prince by nicole murphyPublisher: Escape Publishing
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: eARC from the publisher via NetGalley

Cassandra Wiltmore is the heir to the throne of Rica, but it’s unlikely she’ll be stepping up any time soon. So she spends her days managing and building the Rican Balcite Mining Company. The company has made her family wealthy beyond imagination, but that kind of power needs careful control, and Cassandra is just the Wiltmore to control it.

When a new bid for the mining license is announced, Cassandra is determined to squash it. Then the thefts and threats begin, and every step she takes seems to be wrong. Taking on a new protector seems like an indulgence Cass can’t afford, but she equally cannot afford to be caught off-guard. If only the best man for the job wasn’t also the best-looking man she’s ever seen.

Kernan Radaton has ambition, and as protector to Cassandra Wiltmore, he’s well placed to reach all his long-held goals. If only his new all-business boss didn’t make him think of only pleasure. With the company, the heir and the family under attack, the last thing anyone needs is a distraction. But once everything is safe again, Kernan is developing new ambitions — ones that involve a lot of very personal time spent getting to know his boss on a very personal level.
*Blurb taken from Goodreads

This science fiction romance (emphasis on the romance) was way more fun than I thought it would be. Which doesn’t mean that there weren’t a few things that drove me crazy!

Loving the Prince is essentially a bodyguard romance in a somewhat futuristic/science fictional setting. The science fiction mostly involves the setting and the political arrangements that fuel part of the corporate espionage plotline.

For true SF, there would need to be way more exploration of either the technology or the society. Since this one involved a TON of political hijinks, more detail about how the various governments came to be, and the way that politics in the Planetarium (the overall government structure) would be necessary. And highly desired! I think I got some sense of things, but not much. There seem to be hereditary kingdoms that answer to an overall governing body (like the UN but with real power). On the other hand, if the ruler of any individual country behaves badly enough, they can get deposed by the Planetarium in favor of their heir.

I also wish the governing body hadn’t been called “The Planetarium”. It made me double-check every time.

This is also a society that has developed both psi-powers and the ability to block them. Corporate espionage can be conducted by raiding someone’s mind. It can also be prevented by corporate officers having a bodyguard capable of thwarting mental even more than physical attacks.

And some of the skulduggery involves control of the metal that can be used to make psi-blocking rooms and equipment. The metal “balcite” is rare, its mining and distribution are heavily controlled, and it and its byproducts are incredibly useful. Demand overwhelmingly exceed supply.

That’s where the story comes in. Cassandra is both the manager of the mining company that handles balcite licensing and the heir of the kingdom that owns the company. Which makes her the “prince” of the book’s title.

Cassandra felt like she was a very empathetic heroine. She has an important and extremely demanding job to which she is devoting her life; and a large family who both take advantage of her and their ownership of the company. She has lots of buttons and her family knows just how to push them, particularly her twin sister Diana (fraternal, not identical) and her cousin Hera. While she is a very competent administrator, her female relatives are more than capable of making her feel like an inferior woman. While we want her to stand up to them (and her own internal voices) much more, it does make her more realistic.

No one knows how to get to us like family.

Cassandra also has a noted tendency to let her anger get the better of her, and to jump in with both feet where angels do (and should) fear to tread. She really does need a bodyguard.

And that’s where Kernan steps in. Her own Protector/bodyguard, Eorin, is ready to retire and take care of his family. Kernan has the skills to take over the job, and has always dreamed of working for Rican Balcite Mining Company, Cassandra’s family firm. He would be ideal for the job except for one thing, he is her cousin Hera’s boyfriend. And as much as Cassandra doesn’t want to deal with it, she finds herself incredibly attracted to the man.

Hera loses out to Cassandra through her own repeated blundering. She lies. She’s also a vicious bitch, but it will take longer for that to come out. Kernan wants honesty above all, and he can’t get that from Hera.

He is also attracted to Cassandra, but knows that their relative stations should keep them apart. It’s also bad form to get involved with one’s protectee. Kernan comes across as brave, loyal and incredibly naive when it comes to women.

Cassandra’s reluctance is even more understandable; as a manager at the mining company, and heir to the kingdom, she is a rich and powerful woman. No one has ever wanted her just for herself and not her money and/or position.

And then there’s the plot and counterplot, involving another kingdom, another mining company, and the potential for Cassandra’s world to end up in ruins. Possibly literally, as a version of balcite makes powerful explosives.

But someone is plotting to control the world’s supply of balcite, and it is Cassandra’s (and Kernan’s) job to find out who it is. Before the plot hatches, and especially before Cassandra is forced to marry an idiotic slimeball.

While the plot turned out to be an incredible amount of fun, only one of the villains’ motives was made clear at the end. Of course, the other one escaped, so there might be a sequel with more worldbuilding. I hope so, because I enjoyed the hell out of this in spite of the places where the SF felt a bit thin. It’s a fun romp.

One thing that drove me bananas were the names. It’s not just that they were a mixture of relatively common and widely outrageous examples of syllables run together, but also things like the “Planetarium”. This was a relatively straightforward corporate espionage story. Calling Cassandra the “Prince” instead of using a gender neutral term for ruler, or even a completely made-up one, grated a bit.

All in all, I had a blast reading Loving the Prince. The romance between Kernan and Cassandra had just the right amount of forbidden romance, unresolved (eventually resolved) sexual tension, and tenderness. The interrelationships among Cassandra’s family were painfully realistic. One of her enemies was an extreme idiot, but the other was a corporate rival worthy of Cassandra’s intelligence. I hope that the author writes more in this world, because the place and especially the characters she has set up so far are great fun.

I give Loving the Prince a B.

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