By Riley Rollins
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
If the prince wants to play, he can fondle his own jewels.
That cocky, tyrannical bastard. He threw me in the palace dungeon! That’s right—the Crown Prince caught me sneaking into his kingdom, so he slapped me in handcuffs.
He’s pompous, he’s presumptuous, and he’s a royal pain in my ass. But the madder I get, the less I can resist that chiseled body, those ripped abs, that arrogant smile, that raging hard… scepter. I hate his f*ckin’ guts, but I just can’t keep my hands off the royal goods.
ONE night together was all it took. One hard, fast, and unprotected mistake.
I’m pregnant with the prince’s baby.
But if the King discovers our dirty little secret……OH. MY. GOD.
Riley Rollins’ second novel delivers another tightly written story with well-developed characters, including a bad*ss prince (Crown Prince Nikolai of North Molvania) and an independent, outspoken heroine named Jenna.
Jenna is a front-line reporter for EDGE News, an underground network that is known for breaking all the hottest and weirdest stories. When the news organization secures two travel permits to North Molvania, a country that only allows 100 outsiders to enter it annually, she hops on a plane with her best friend and takes off to the isolated country to do an expose on the country’s royal family and governing regime. The country’s most handsome and eligible bachelor, Crown Prince Nikolai, is being groomed to one day be king, but purportedly is more interested in partying and schmoozing than worrying about the democratic reforms so badly needed by the country’s residents. The only thing Jenna and Nikolai even have close to being in common is that each of them lost their betrothed a couple of years ago – Jenna’s was killed by a drunk driver and Nikolai’s was murdered by a terrorist regime.
Upon entering the country, Jenna and her friend are kidnapped by the royal family, and Jenna is put on trial and sentenced to 20 years of hard labor. Prince Nikolai, who apparently saw video of her entering the country, however, makes a grand entrance once the ruling is read and nullifies the verdict, having her released into his care so she can accompany him to the royal ball. Over time, Jenna comes to realize that Nikolai is not the totalitarian ogre she originally imagined. She insists he take a tour of his country, and it’s then that he realizes Jenna’s claims that his father, the King, has not been treating his people well are truthful. The couple spends an afternoon together, end up consummating their relationship, and shortly thereafter, the King has Jenna and her friend deported back to the United States. Several months later, Jenna gives birth to a son – sired by the Prince – and names him Josh. One morning the news tabloids release photos of a naked Nikolai and Jenna, and Jenna is fired from her job at the EDGE. Nikolai sends his men to kidnap her and return her to North Molvania, though it’s without her son who is still at daycare. He admits he didn’t pursue her after his father had her deported because he thought returning to the U.S. was what she wanted. Eventually their son is returned to be with them in North Molvania, but then he is kidnapped by the King. It’s up to Nikolai and Jenna to get their son back, but it may cost them their lives – as well as the life of their son – if they aren’t successful in staging a coup against the King.
Both Nikolai and Jenna have strong, resilient personalities. Jenna’s insolence compels Nikolai to respect her, since no other woman has ever questioned or spoken up to him before. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and to Nikolai’s credit, he does follow through on checking out her accusations against the King about his treatment of the commoners in North Molvania. He also realizes that if anything is to change, it will need to be because he takes the initiative.
Nikolai is quite arrogant, and he doesn’t seem to be a very warm or caring person at the offset, but then considering his upbringing and the sheltered life he has lived thus far, it’s understandable. He expects everyone to bow to him, which doesn’t particularly impress Jenna. As time goes on, though, and he starts to come to realize the truth about many things – as well as learn that he has a son – his attitude slowly changes and he becomes a more likeable character, especially when he starts interacting with his son. He also starts to demonstrate his feelings for Jenna and strives to keep them protected. Towards the latter quarter of the book, their chemistry and affection becomes more palpable. It certainly wasn’t only about sex with these two. If anything, I was a bit surprised there weren’t more scenes, and some were even left to the imagination (you knew they happened, but it wasn’t spelled out). Those that did exist, however, were hot and steamy and added substance to the growth of the couple’s story.
One characteristic in particular that I appreciate about Rollins’ writing is that even though negative things happen, there isn’t the extended and overplayed angst that many novels depend on to build a story. Instead, she weaves in hope and positivity. In this story, for example, it was represented by the change in government for the people and Nikolai becoming a better person because of Jenna. Jenna’s priorities also evolved thanks to her growing love for Nikolai and the addition of her son.
This was a smart, solid and satisfying read. Riley Rollins is an entertaining writer and her work is a fun and effortless read. She’s an exceptional storyteller and her characters come to life on the page.
I received an ARC in exchange for submitting an honest review.
The “huh?” part?
I wasn’t sure if the King did or didn’t know about the baby. If he sent an assassin to kidnap or kill the baby in Jenna’s room, that must mean he did know, yet it still hovered that maybe he didn’t.
The dialogue scene Nikolai and Jenna shared before busting through the tunnel door into Transylvania.
Yes, Riley Rollins is an entertaining writer. She is a really good storyteller and her characters come to life on the page.
He turns around, shrugging the assault rifle out of the way. He drops the two duffel bags to the ground, and then wraps his arms around me in a warm, giant embrace. There’s something about his touch that makes me feel like the whole world could disappear, and it feels unfair when we finally part and everything is still exactly the way it was before.
He brushes off my arms, looking down at me with a wistful smile. I can tell that many of the same thoughts are running through his head, yet I have total confidence that if anyone can get the job done, it’s him.
“Did I have some dirt on me?”
“No,” he says, smiling. “It was just an excuse to touch you.”
“You don’t need an excuse to touch me,” I tell him. “The opposite, actually. The only time I’ll ever complain is if you stop.”
He lowers his voice, almost to a growl, a purr. “When this is all over, I’m going to take you to bed and I am never going to let you go.”
I smile at him. “Let’s get this over with so that can happen as soon as possible.”
“Do you think we’ll get him back?” I ask, my voice quiet.
“Anything it takes. Anything.”
“Can you just hold me right now?”
He nods, and pulls me tight against his chest. I lay my cheek down, snuggling under the blanket.
“My little pet.”
“No matter what happens, I just want you to know I love you.”
“My little pet,” he says. “I love you, too. I think I have from the moment I met you.”
Review originally posted on Amazon and Goodreads on May 28, 2016.