The Cowboy and the Princess

Lori Wilde
August 2012, Contemporary Romance
Avon, $7.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0062047779

Grade: C
Sensuality: Warm

I don't usually judge a book by its title, but I have to admit that I didn't expect much from The Cowboy and the Princess. It sounded silly and clichéd to me, but I was hoping I might be wrong. Unfortunately, I was right. What I got was a cowboy hero-worship novel with an unrealistic and unoriginal princess thrown in.

Princess Annabella of Monesta (a Monaco-like small European state) is promised to an older man, the prince of another small European country, in order to join their two families and countries. However, after being completely sheltered and protected her whole life, she wants an adventure before marriage. She runs away while visiting a friend in Texas, and when she gets stranded in the pouring rain, she has no choice but to hitchhike. Luckily, she is picked up by Brady Talmadge.

By picking her up, Brady is breaking two of his "unbreakable rules," never pick up a hitchhiker and avoid damsels in distress. However, he can't resist helping Annabella, so he gives her a ride, buys her dinner, and helps her hide from her guards when they come looking for her -- by kissing her senseless. He has no idea who she is, where she came from, or what she is doing, but he can't help but be drawn to her. They almost sleep together, but when he discovers she is a virgin, he backs off. He still brings her to his friend's house, though, where she conveniently finds work, a place to live, and instant companions. The two continue to grow closer, and she begins to find herself away from the palace.

Annabella, or Annie Coste, as she calls herself, is one of those sickly sweet paragons of a woman: young, innocent, and happens to have a PhD in Comparative Literature of the American Southwest -- and yet she doesn't know what chili is. There are a lot of contradictions in her, and not the kind that make her interesting or conflicted. Just the kind that make her unrealistic and the author seem lazy.

Brady is a better character, but still not particularly original or unique. He's a standard cowboy hero, the strong, silent, womanizing type. They do have chemistry, though; after their first aborted night together, they decide to wait before having sex, and waiting works for them and builds a great tension between them.

Unfortunately, that is about all the positive I have to say about the book. Despite Annie's preposterous PhD, there wasn't anything that irritated me about the book; it was just generally lackluster, cliched, and an overtly obvious homage to Roman Holiday. Things got better as it went along, but still not enough to make it stand out in any way from all the other cowboy and/or princess novels.

-- Jane Granville

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