Undercover Princess (Royally Wed, #2) by Suzanne Brockmann
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: Originally published November 1, 1999
Publisher: Silhouette; First Edition
Pages: 256 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Twenty-five-year-old Princess Katherine Wyndham comes from a small principality in Europe. She is the youngest of her sisters and, in her own eyes, very "plain" compared to the other princesses and her mother, all of whom are heart-stoppingly gorgeous. Katherine has had only one love affair up until the moment of the story. The man involved used her to get ahead and ultimately dumped her, leaving Katherine very cynical about men who know her true identity.
Katherine's brother, the heir to the throne, was kidnapped as an infant, and her family recently has had leads in America as to several possibilities for his location. One of those leads is Trey Sutherland. Her brother was raised in an orphanage, and he may currently be Trey's business partner. Katherine has been trying unsuccessfully for days to get an appointment with the reclusive Trey, then suddenly when she calls his office, his secretary gives her an appointment for an interview that very day at Trey's home. Katherine grabs at this unexpected opportunity and rushes over to Trey's house, which appears more like a small castle than a home, with Trey's office located in a turret.
Katherine discovers that the reason she has finally been invited in so readily is that Trey desperately needs a nanny, and the secretary assumed that Katherine was applying for the job. Katherine does not want to deceive Trey as to her purpose for seeing him, but several things happen to cause her to decide to go "undercover," starting with telling Trey her name is "Kathy Wind." First, the man who may be her brother is currently out of town on an extended stay, and Katherine wants to be around when he next contacts Trey. Second, Katherine is instantly attracted to handsome, 35-year-old Trey, and he is clearly drawn to her. It is very tempting to get to know him without the burden of her princess identity tainting their interaction. Finally, her heart goes out to his children, who have gone through innumerable nannies and are in a very bad place. Trey's wife died three years before, and Trey's daughter and son are still obviously traumatized by the loss of their mother. When Trey sees how well his children respond to Katherine, he begs her to become their nanny. Katherine impulsively accepts his offer of a job.
This book has a wonderful hero and fantastic heroine! The passion between them is powerful, and their emotional connection is deep and very moving.
What was particularly enjoyable for me, as an added bonus over and above even these great things in the story, were the scenes where the heroine, Kathy, interacts as temporary nanny with the children of the hero, Trey. The daughter is 13 and quite angry and rebellious. The son is six, almost seven, and hasn't spoken in three years. He pretends to be a dog and only communicates by barking. His name is Doug, but his sister calls him, "Doggie." The manner in which Kathy coaxes him back into acting like a little boy again instead of a dog is both hilarious and extremely touching. Kathy's relationship with the hero's teenage daughter is great, too.
I originally read this book in 1999, and I just reread this book in a Kindle edition. It is well formatted and edited.
There is one main area of the story that is rather unbelievable to me this time around that I did not notice too much back in 1999 on my first read of this book. That is the fact that the heroine is able to get away with giving a fake name to the hero only because he never asks her to show identification to prove who she is, and she is not asked, as a non-US citizen, to demonstrate that she is legally able to work in the U.S. Such identification would have immediately blown her "undercover operation," and it has been required by employers for decades in this country, not just post-9/11. However, I will admit that many people, including prominent politicians, have made a habit over the years of paying undocumented workers such as nannies under the table, and so might have Trey. But it seems a shade too convenient to the story's requirements to just pretend this legal reality doesn't exist rather than motivating Trey for carelessly overlooking it.
A more likely downside to this story for many readers than the "papers, please" technicality is the fact that the mystery about the missing prince, which is the premise for the "cute meet" of the heroine and hero, is not resolved in this book. This book was originally released by Harlequin as part of the Silhouette Intimate Moments line, #968, December 1999, and labeled as Book 2 of the "Royally Wed" series. There are a total of 12 books in this series, and the rest of the books were not written by Brockmann, but by other Harlequin authors. Presumably the mystery about the prince is not fully resolved until the last book of this series. This is the only book of that series I myself have read.
Below is a complete list of the books in the "Royally Wed" series, only a few of which have so far been re-released by Harlequin in ebook format:
- A Royal Baby on the Way by Susan Mallery, Book 1
- Undercover Princess by Suzanne Brockmann, Book 2
- The Princess's White Knight by Carla Cassidy, Book 3
- The Pregnant Princess by Anne Marie Winston, Book 4
- Man...Mercenary...Monarch by Joan Elliott Pickart, Book 5
- Royal Masquerade by Arlene James, Book 6
- A Royal Marriage by Cara Colter, Book 7
- A Royal Mission by Elizabeth August, Book 8
- The Expectant Princess by Stella Bagwell, Book 9
- Blacksheep Prince's Bride by Martha Shields, Book 10
- Code Name: Prince by Valerie Parv, Book 11
- An Officer and a Princess by Carla Cassidy, Book 12