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The Reluctant Heiress

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  6,685 Ratings  ·  528 Reviews
Spring, 1922: Tessa is a beautiful, tiny, dark-eyed princess – who’s given up her duties to follow her heart, working for nothing backstage at the Viennese opera. No one there knows who she really is, or that a fairytale castle is missing its princess, and Tessa is determined to keep it that way. But secret lives can be complicated. When a wealthy, handsome Englishman disc ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1982)
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Katie Hutchison Irion
Alright, I really like this author but enough is enough. I think I have read too many of her books in too short of time. Heck, I think I could write one of these books. Hmm, here goes. Impoverished adorable female heroine who, despite very bleak odds, is still the happiest, calmest, sweetest girl on the block. It doesn't matter that her parents hate her of she has no money, her beauty shines through the mess her life is in. Rich, tall, dashingly attractive man comes on the scene. Has all the mon ...more
Feb 15, 2010 Melissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Update: I finished... actually, I skipped a lot of the book. I just couldn't get into it. And it wasn't even the random big words (see earlier rant below). I just didn't really care about these characters. And there was so much in this book that didn't seem to fit quite right or that just felt like filler. I really doubt I'll ever read anything by Eva Ibbotson again.

Just a quick note... I'm only 40 pages in and I'm a bit annoyed with the author. "Vituperative" and "salubrious"? Really? She could
Jul 01, 2012 Maninee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Maninee by: Avisikta
Shelves: romance
When I flipped through the book at the library the cover told me this was the story of beautiful dark eyed princess who has shrugged off her royal duties and taken up the life of theatre and how she meets and falls in love with a handsome and rich English businessman. For me atleast the story isn't so much about romance really. Atleast, not one of those heady romances where every other page is filled with detailed descriptions of the heroine's face. No, this was less of romance and more of, well ...more
Jan 04, 2015 Jenne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is EXACTLY the kind of book I would want to write. It's a ridiculous confection, but not a wispy meringue or an overdone croquembouche. It's like...a Sachertorte! Layer upon layer of substantial deliciousness that is almost but not quite too much, and best enjoyed with a strong cup of coffee. (Or like I did, in a hot tub...can you eat Sachertorte in a hot tub? I volunteer to find out.)
Sep 21, 2009 Angie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-uns, ya
I was so excited to find another Eva Ibbotson book! Awhile back I blew through A Song for Summer, A Countess Below Stairs, A Company of Swans, and The Morning Gift. When I surfaced again, I found myself really hoping the magic spell wouldn't end there. Happily there was one more sweet historical in store for me. THE RELUCTANT HEIRESS is a (retitled) re-issue of Ibbotson's Magic Flutes, which was originally published in 1982. It is set in the 1920s and revolves around the outrageously funny and t ...more
Oct 22, 2010 Kristy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I am in a Bad Book Rut, I need a good book asap to restore my faith in writers everywhere!!

Author Eva Ibbostson is 1-1. Her book "A countess below stairs" was wonderful, I thouroughly enjoyed reading it. This book, "The Reluctant Heiress' was a flop.
It took me about 200 pages of reading this one (or scanning it) to become half-way interested. The wording in this one is just too much. I know she was trying to write fitting to the time period, but I just really didn't like it. The char
Anne Osterlund
Sep 09, 2009 Anne Osterlund rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another joyous romp through Eva Ibbotson's world of love in the face of early 20th century post-war Europe, great art, and truly disarming heroines. Tessa (who just happens to be an Italian princess) has dedicated herself as a maid of all work in the service of opera. Guy (tycoon/former foster child & chaos creater) buys up her old palace in honor of his fiance. Said fiance turns out to be in love with herself. Which is actually a good thing because you know sooner or later Tessa & Guy a ...more
Jul 03, 2014 snowplum rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I reviewed A Countless Below Stairs last week, I felt as though I couldn't single out one of Eva Ibbotson's books for a 5-star rating because I love them all and don't have a favorite. Since then, a couple of friends have read my review and expressed interest, and I found myself backtracking from Countess and recommending The Reluctant Heiress (in some editions alternatively titled Magic Flutes) because they would probably like it even more. Apparently I have a favorite.

It will be difficult
Nov 24, 2009 Candi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
If I had read this book before I read A Countess Below Stairs it would have been one of my favorite books. A beautiful story with such a great leading lady, and the opera...Debussy, Mozart, Puccini--love love love. I like the sacrifice of everything toward the greater good of music, and that Beethoven's button business-genius.
However, this is strikingly similar to A Countess Below Stairs and that book has a slightly more appealing hero, bigger climax moment with that great line that goes somethi
Sep 02, 2009 Josie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, young-adult
This was typical Eva Ibbotson fare: a story that's just predictable enough to make it feel cosy and well-loved without feeling boring or clichéd. I like her blend of simple storytelling mixed with delicious description, only in this case I found the description began to detract from the story. I can forgive a little exaggeration, but too much and I start to squirm. Oh, and Guy's eyes changing colour felt just a bit too much for me. And -- as with all Eva Ibbotson's books -- there were references ...more
Kate Quinn
May 03, 2010 Kate Quinn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eva Ibbotson's usual lovely effort to raise the bar in the romance category, redeeming a typical fairy-tale plot with real people and real humor. Taking place in Austria just after World War I, we are swiftly introduced to two people obviously intended for each other: Guy, an English foundling turned self-made millionaire, and Tessa, an Austrian princess with a lineage that goes back to Charlemagne. But Guy is smitten with a snobbish fiancee and buys Tessa's castle to impress her, while Tessa is ...more
Barb in Maryland
Oh no, fooled by the great re-naming bug. I loved this book when I read it years ago under its original title of Magic Flutes. The new packaging is nice. However, all the time I was waiting for this to come out I thought I was waiting for a NEW story.
Sep 28, 2014 Alia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a historical fiction book that is largely a romance, but there is a good plot line besides just that. Tessa is an Austrian princess, but she is a strong republican and all she really wants to do in her life is work in the theater and help to make operas. The book is set in 1920's Austria, which makes it interesting in the historical context as well as having an enjoyable storyline. Eva Ibbotson's writing really draws you in, making it difficult to put the book down.

I really enjoyed Tessa
Charnell (Reviews from a Bookworm)
Having read three books by Eva Ibbotson in a row, it had become quite clear to me that the woman was a master when it came to writing historical romance. And totally adorable romance at that. Don't go thinking these are going to be adorable or cute in the way that you'd find Stephanie Perkins or Kasie Wests books. These are romance that are set during a time when the approach to romance was all about courting, dowries and engagement announcements.

Magic Flutes, by the end of it, had stolen my hea
Nicole Catherine
Nov 11, 2009 Nicole Catherine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fluffy not-quite-squeaky-clean romance lovers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 16, 2010 Milly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hehehehe...I just finished reading someone else's review of this book and no longer feel dumb in thinking that there was a superfluous of big and foreign words in this book. I eventually got too lazy to constantly check the dictionary and instead decided to just power read through the paragraphs littered with these magnanimous words. I've read previous books from this author and didn't suffer as much so I thought perhaps the author made an effort to represent the time period (1920s), the charact ...more
May 02, 2009 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know, I KNOW, that any time I pick up one of Eva Ibbotson's romances, I can't put it down. I KNOW THIS. And yet, last night when I got home after midnight, I STILL PICKED IT UP. Fortunately I could sleep in this morning.

The remarkable thing about this unbreakable grip Ibbotson's books have on me is that the main characters are the same from book to book, which you'd think would get boring. All the girls are young and full of loving, giving life, and all the guys are about 10 years older, hot-t
Alix  [Semi-Hiatus]
Jul 19, 2015 Alix [Semi-Hiatus] rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Bewitching Season or the Montmaray Journals
"But if you have a drop of pity for my unhappy lot, you'll not forsake me"
-K. S. Shilovsky (paraphrased by me), libretto of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin

My rating might be so high because I didn't expect much from this book. It sounded like the main characters of A Countess Below Stairs changed their names and got dropped into the setting of The Star of Kazan only fifteen years later. Anna Tessa is a Russian Countess Austrian Princess working at a(n) English Manor Viennese opera company when she
Lady Knight
While I have to saw that I found this a highly enjoyable book, I really felt that it drug on for way too long. Despite knowing how it would work out before I even opened the book, after finishing the first third, I honestly thought that the book should have ended. It's almost as if Ibbotson ended it and then decided that she wasn't quite finished with the characters and chose to change a couple of lines and then continue on for another couple hundred pages. Thus, while good, I've read better in ...more
Found on the docks at Newcastle-upon-Tyme, Guy is a foundling who spent his earliest years at the Foundling Home fighting any perceived insult or injustice. At the age of 6 he was adopted by the widow Martha Hodge, who saw his potential and loved him unconditionally. Guy worked hard to please Martha and turned his energy to his studies. After attending University in Vienna, Guy came home changed and determined to make millions. Now, in 1922, he has become a multi-millionaire and is rich enough t ...more
Clare Cannon
Apr 28, 2010 Clare Cannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 11-16 years (girls)
Shelves: 13-15yrs, young-adult
Ibbotson's writing is entrancing, and this is another un-put-down-able romance for teens.

There are none of the direct scenes that appear in some of her other books for older readers, though a few mature-theme references prevent it being suitable for under 13s. As it is, I'd keep it for 15+

Part of the reason it's so easy to 'lose your heart' in her stories is that her female characters are superb. How she can make an ordinary looking, hard-working, self-sacrificing and kind-hearted girl look abs
May 24, 2009 Delaina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How does one describe the novels of Eva Ibbotson? She has a way of blending outlandishly caricatured, eminently familiar hero and villain types with simple, earnest storytelling. Damning with faint praise, you say? No, no, for she does it so very well that, as a reader, you allow yourself to be swept away into her unabashedly modern fairy tale world. And her YA romance novels are nothing if not that. They don't contain the obvious trappings of fairy tales, for the characters are real people (eve ...more
Mar 19, 2011 Nan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, romance
This book was exactly what I wanted at exactly the right time. I was suffering from a migraine yesterday when I started it, and this light and fluffy concoction was enough to distract me from my pain while still being light enough not to add to my strain.

This book is entirely predictable, but that's part of the reason you'll want to turn to it. As much as we readers know how the narrative will end, it's a delight getting there. The characters are lively and often filled with joy. Love of music f
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 12, 2009 Courtney rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
A republican princess of the people is charmed by a self-made orphan who buys her castle and shares her love of opera. This is the barest of summaries. A sweet, predictable book. I regret that I did not believe the relationship between Guy and Tessa, neither in its early stages, nor in its progression. Also I dislike that Ibbotson's bad-guy characters are so two-dimensional. Why do they have no redeeming qualities? Their shallow, self-absorption makes them the perfect fairy-tale foils (and utter ...more
Jul 27, 2009 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always, "The Reluctant Heiress" kept my not only my heart, but my emotional well-being on a roller coaster. Though it was not one of my favorite of Eva Ibbotson's works, for I was not groveling in painful tears and heartache as usual, it was none the less an enriching and enchanting piece of literature, starring as usual a humble, most-likable heroin, a man, this time battling with love's folly, and of course - conflict, at which Mrs. Ibbotson is distinguished in my opinion. Again, I was surp ...more
Fun fact: one of the castles with an important role in the plot is supposed to be Neuschwanstein Castle, which was also the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle.

How fitting for a princess novel. Technically not a princess novel, but if you have aristocrats and pretty dresses, it counts in my book.

Eva Ibbotson's YA thing (as opposed to her MG books) seems to be comforting Cinderella fluff set in different historical European settings.

I read (or reread) these books when I want the goo
Miss Clark
Nov 28, 2008 Miss Clark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
The best of Eva Ibbotson's "romance" books. All her books share a gorgeous style, a way with words that brings everything to life and moves the story along, even when there is very little action and no surprises. (No offense, but the stories are very formulaic. But she manages to make the simple plot lines poignant and moving and real each and every time so you don't care if you know what is going to happen - you just love listening to her tell the story and seeing the story unfold.) She had the ...more
One of the best love stories I've read in a long time! Written with a unique, quirky style and voice, skillfully crafted and satisfyingly sappy, this is a charming love story you won't want to miss! One of those unique romances where the fabulous essence of the character within both leading man and leading lady leaves you dying to take either one to lunch, and completely convinced that true love cannot help but follow them all of their days. One of those vanishingly rare 'romance' stories that d ...more
Jan 15, 2010 Kiri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delicious to read! Oh my, was it fun. I charged through the finale of this book over morning coffee, and I rapidly became in danger of being late to work because I just could not stop reading. The entire book is delightful and light on its toes and so like an opera. So appropriate that the production of an opera makes up a great deal of the book.

I was a little disappointed by the pace of the final bits, as certain crucial plot points take place "offstage" and are then described by one character
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Eva Ibbotson (born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner) was a British novelist specializing in romance and children's fantasy.

Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1925. When Hitler came into power, Ibbotson's family moved to England. She attended Bedford College, graduating in 1945; Cambridge University from 1946-47; and the University of Durham, from which she graduated with a diploma in edu
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“I must go-- the aunts will be worried. Guy, I don't know if we will meet again, but--" Her voice broke and she tried again. "Sometimes, when you're alone and you look up at--" Once more, she had to stop. Then she managed, "If I cannot be anything else... could I be your Star Sister? Could I at least be that?"

Guy dug his nails into his palms. Everything in him rose in protest at the fey, romantic conceit. He did not want her in the heavens, linked to him by some celestial whimsy, but here and now in the flesh and after the death of the flesh, her hand in his as they rose from graves like these when the last trump sounded.

"Yes," he managed to say. "You can be my Star Sister. You can at least be that.”
“She took a deep breath, inhaling the night air scented with hay, honeysuckle and the rich waters of the lake, listened to the music and laughter coming from the theatre, tilted her head to the the stars. She had never seen them so brilliant and clear. Cassiopeia, Orion, the great girdle of the Milky Way-and her own birth sign, Gemini. With such staggering beauty in the world, how could anyone not rejoice?

It seemed however, that 'anyone' could. For at once came the age-old cry of lovers since time began. 'What are the stars if i am not gazing at them with him? What is beauty except something we share?”
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