Rebecca's Reviews > The Reluctant Heiress

The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson
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Jan 20, 12

bookshelves: historical, romance
Read in January, 2012

Guy Farne was abandoned as a baby and grew up first in an orphanage, then with a foster mother. When he fell in love with a young woman whose family threw him out for being penniless and nameless, he spent years amassing a vast fortune so he could eventually win her. His coup de grace was purchasing a magnificent, ancient Austrian castle from its bankrupt owners (just one of many Austrian and German castles for sale after WWI) and throwing a house party with the creme de la creme (such as it now was) of Austrian nobility. His former love is thrilled and enchanted, because all she's ever been interested in is being beautiful and noble. What Guy does not take into account is the young princess who owned the castle, whom he meets as she's working incognito for a struggling Vienna opera company. She's everything his fiancee is not, but will he recognize that in time?

I picked this up because I loved Ibbotson's 'Star of Kazan,' which has a similar setting. I didn't realize that this is essentially an adult historical romance, akin to Georgette Heyer in a different time period and slightly less frothy. Since I was expecting YA, I was a bit thrown, so I never quite knew how to take the story. Certainly the descriptions are marvelous and glittering, one thing I loved about the other book, so I was not disappointed there. The characters in this were fairly one-dimensional; the fiancee had no redeeming qualities and the princess had no bad ones, so it was blatantly obvious where the story was going. Also, the decaying grandeur of the setting was a bit depressing, however historically accurate, and I just think that if you're going to write a melodramatic romance, just go with it and don't worry about making a social statement. So...I liked the book, but didn't love it.
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