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Jul 17, 2012

The Wild Princess by Mary Hart Perry

Romance and suspense in Queen Victoria's court
The Wild Princess by Mary Hart Perry
William Morrow and Company July 31, 2012
Paperback 384 pages
Egalley provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 3.5 stars

The marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert produced nine children—five of them princesses, all trained for the role of marriage to future monarchs. However, the fourth princess, Louise—later the duchess of Argyll—became known by the court as “the wild one.” She fought the constraints placed on her brothers and sisters. She broke with tradition by marrying outside of the elite circle of European royals at a time when no child of the English throne had wed a commoner in 300 years. Some said she married for love. Others whispered of scandal covered up by the Crown.

In fact, many years after Louise’s death, a civil lawsuit claimed that the teenage princess secretly gave birth to a baby boy out of wedlock. One Henry Locock sought to prove through DNA evidence that his grandfather was Louise’s child, delivered by Queen Victoria’s gynecologist then secretly adopted by the doctor’s young son and his wife, thereby avoiding scandal and preserving the line of succession to the throne. But the mysteries and drama involving Louise’s life don’t stop there...This is her story.

The fourth princess borne of Queen Victoria is Louise and is dubbed the wild one in her family because of her precocious ways. Apparently her free spirit is abhorred by her very own mother, and she is held at arms' length. The author depicts a relationship between mother and daughter that no one would enjoy, and we have to feel sorry for Princess Louise. There seems to be only tolerance between the family members. So, Louise finds love elsewhere.

Of course, Louise's gout-ridden mother doesn't like her choice, and a mystery follows of what happens to Louise's lover, so Louise hires her mom's Secret Service guy Stephen Byrne to investigate, and of course Louise falls in love with him, too. Stephen Byrne, also known as The Raven, is also tasked to uncover the Irish plot to wreak havoc on the monarchy, which adds a touch of thrill to this romance.

Add to this little love triangle a husband for Princess Louise. And he is a gorgeous specimen of a man that Louise is excited to marry, until it comes time to consummate their marriage. At that point, all bets are off.

Although there are some historical nuances of the era, the main theme would be romance first, mystery/suspense next and historical last. It was a quick read, and interesting to contemplate the complete What-if-Louise-did-this.. but in doing so, it was a bit too much of an alternate history for this history lover. However, there were some intriguing details of the era, from the horse drawn carriages to the gowns, and the art school that Louise attended in the city.

For those wanting to learn more about Queen Victoria or her family, this is an interesting take on the possible family dynamic, but I would definitely refer to the authors bibliography for more detailed reads on the subject. But for a light-weight romantic read this is perfect for the summer, and it is a great look at the character behind Louise herself. The author is working on book two which focuses on younger princess Beatrice who doesn't want to be a virgin forever, so I think this will be a sort of romance series for her. She definitely has some fabulous writing skill, even though I didn't love the creative take on the novel, it really read well.

Read an excerpt from The Wild Princess on Mary Hart Perry's website