Pandora's Box

The Star Prince

Susan Grant
2001, Science Fiction Romance
LoveSpell, $6.99, 395 pages, Amazon ASIN 0505524570
Part of a series

Grade: N/A
Sensuality: N/A

There is a staff review of this book as well

The Star Prince picks up Susan Grant's futuristic world seven years after The Star King ends.

Ian Hamilton has been picked by his alien stepfather to be Crown Prince for the Galaxy and has been sent on a mission to the frontier and Earth. He unknowingly hires a runaway Vash Princess as his sky pilot and as they fly across the Galaxy in pursuit of peace and freedom, can love be far behind?

Linda:   In The Star Prince Grant continues the tale began in Star King and I think liked this one just as well. I love her feisty heroines and Ian is a terrific hero.

Blythe:  I thought this was a cute book too. SF romance is not really my thing, or I probably would have liked it more. Both books are in the low B range for me, but I slightly preferred this one; I found both of the main characters more accessible than the previous set.

Linda:   What I really liked was the fact that Grant never loses the romance for SF or action/adventure. Tee and Ian never get lost and wonderful peeks into their emotional lives are provided amid the action. In The Star King we met Ian's cheating irresponsible father and the effects of his behavior on his mother, Jas. In The Star Prince we discover the effects of their father's behavior on the twins, Ilana and Ian. For Ian, his father's betrayals turned him into a son who tried to never disappoint or upset his mother and his determination not to be like his father underlies many of his actions. I thought this glimpse into the long-term effects of a dysfunctional family on children was brilliant. It looks like we will get to see more of Ilana in the next book - her reaction seems opposite from Ian's.

Blythe:  I thought that was pretty interesting too - and believable. Both Ian and Tee'ah are well-developed characters. Tee may have had parents who both loved her, but she has also been stifled by her culture. As part of a ruling class, she has been cloistered among family for most of her life. Her marriage was predetermined, and she was expected to remain virginal and obedient. Not your typical modern girl. I thought her struggles to break out of the mold her family and culture had put her in made her a sympathetic character, and Ian was a good match for her.

Linda:   Yes, they were very well matched. I also liked their bickering and teasing and the dialogue was often witty. I loved Tee's attempts to dye her hair brown and ending up with a slimy, smelly green. I once had a similar experience. Believe me - it is not easy being green <g>.

I also liked the fact that Grant didn't take a cheap shot and make the southern U.S. senator a buffoon. He was a broad character in the mold of John McCain. So often politicians are portrayed as inept, buffoons, corrupt or worse but Grant avoided this stereotype and created an interesting character. In fact, I enjoyed the entire crew and the secondary romance between Gann and Lara was just a joy to read.

Blythe:  This book starts seven years after the last one ends, and Grant shows the interaction that has occurred between Earth and the Federation. Earth has received technology from the Vash, but it has given resources back in return, and seems to be respected as a planet.

You're right about the senator who is trying to find out about galactic affairs; he is anything but a buffoon. This leads to the crux of my problem with the book, though, which is that I really agreed with that Senator. I wasn't sure Ian should have been on an opposing side. If this scenario were real, I would have been protesting on Earth, wearing an Earth First button.

In the first book, Rom has to deal with the powers that be in the Vash culture. In this one, he is the power. Frankly, I had little liking for the Vash, who seem to use the excuse that they have been at peace for a thousand years as a reason to repress women and perpetuate a racist, classist society. Why would Ian want to be a prince of these people, and why would earth want to take orders from a monarchy? I can't see this going over big with any American, and it certainly bombed with me. I liked Ian in spite of his associations with the Vash. Obviously he was trying to improve matters, but slow change would not have been good enough for me.

Linda:   LOL, I had some of the same thoughts and was happy to see him go against orders and with his own beliefs at the end. I also thought loved the fact that he was basically a diplomat and peaceful person, but sometimes when one is attacked one has to "kick a little butt."

Blythe:  Yes, butt-kicking was definitely in order. I found Ian's personality as a diplomat interesting, and liked the way he was trying to use his own skills to benefit his home planet while trying to live up to his stepfather's ideals for him. If only this had been "The Star's Popularly Elected President"! I know this is fantasy, but I'm afraid my status as an "earth dweller" makes me completely unwilling to support any king, especially one chosen because of his race.

Linda:   I guess I just suspended my disbelief and went along for the ride, as Rom being King didn't bother me, but in reality, of course, I wouldn't favor this form of government either. As a fantasy world, however, it worked well for me. I am looking forward to seeing Ilana with Tee's jilted groom Che. The little bit we saw of him suggests that he could be an interesting hero and I sensed that there is much more to Ilana then the rather spacey, promiscuous woman she presents to the world.

Blythe:  Yes, that would be an interesting match. It was nice to see Che appear at the end - and nice to see that he wasn't a total jerk, as ex-fiancÚs are often wont to be. Maybe there's hope for these people yet. But let's not be coy . . . I have to tell everyone that when I read this book I felt like "people who know people," because our own Linda makes a cameo appearance at the end as a production assistant who reviews books on the side. Is this your fifteen minutes of fame?

Linda:   Well, I am hoping to appear in the next book. I loved the deliciously cheesy line of dialogue I got to deliver on seeing Muffin <g>. I kind of picture Muffin as a blonde John DeSalvo and can certainly see going off my diet for him.

The best thing about The Star Prince though is that Grant has delivered the romance audience the "something different" we are clamoring for without losing the wonderful couples that we love to read about. The HEA for Tee and Ian was believable and they were always in the forefront of the story. I would rank Grant with Asaro as a writer of romantic SF and that is high praise indeed.

Blythe:  Perhaps you'll get thirty minutes of fame - and end up HEA with Muffin. <g> If anyone ever writes me into a book I want to be the Regency heroine who goes down to the library to get a book at midnight, wearing my nightrail - and runs into the hero, of course.

I agree that this is a good "different" type of book, and one SF romance fans will likely enjoy. It's pretty fun for the rest of us too, as long as we can surrender to the fantasy and put our egalitarian impulses into the background.

Linda:   Oooh that sounds like a great fantasy and your name, Blythe, would work for the Regency era, I think. With a name like Linda I had to be in a contemporary or futuristic book though. Perhaps we could start an award for 'best appearance by a reader in a romance book' <g>.

I think we are reading a totally different type of book next month, aren't we?

Blythe:  Yes, next month is the long awaited One Good Turn, which is Carla Kelly's first full length Regency (in other words, not an anthology piece) in three years. It's a sequel to Libby's London Merchant and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Linda:   This will be my first Kelly, I love the Regency period and am not sure why I haven't tried her before, but it is always fun to discover a new-to-me author. Till next month.

--Blythe Barnhill and Linda Hurst, for

-- Pandora's Box

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