Dear Ms. Crigger,
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from “The Prince’s Cousin” but the description of an intelligent heroine caught my attention. Usually when reading an action/adventure type story, the poor heroine gets turned into some TSTL character so that the hero can “save” her. What a relief to finally find a book which really does feature a woman using her smarts to help solve her problems.
Tomasella Icassian is the daughter of a retired mercenary, the niece of the reigning Queen of the Inner Islands and the nursemaid for the six year old Prince Rhian. She’s slightly bored while waiting for things to get started at the Prince’s sixth birthday party. After hired mercenaries strike, killing the Royal Guards and abducting both the Prince and her, she’s not so bored anymore. The nasty, aristocratic thug behind all this readily admits his plan to force the widowed Queen to marry him by holding her son captive. He also quickly informs Tomasella that he remembers killing her father and raping her five years ago and that he intends to enjoy himself with her on the trek to his stronghold. Oh, and the evil wizard he employs also wants to test Tomi for hidden wizard powers then if she’s good enough, hold her captive and force her to work for him.
Tomi treads a fine line while waiting for a chance to escape with the Prince, who she refuses to leave. She discovers that three of the mercenaries had no idea what was really behind the plot and that they’re willing to help her. Yet once she does manage to escape, do they have a chance against a much larger gang of toughs, the wicked wizard and whatever the weather and the road throw against them?
This story is more a fantasy, action/adventure tale with a romance worked into it. I enjoyed how Tomi uses her head and common sense to stay alive and combat the forces against her. She uses the resources at hand to keep the rescue going and never gets herself into stupid situations. The three mercenaries, Shade, Wyn and Yount, are all three dimensional people with distinct personalities. The villain has reasons for his actions and his matter of fact attitude adds chilling believability to the story.
There’s humor mixed with the action and I think that men would enjoy this story as much as women. It’s relatively short but blessedly free of extraneous subplots. One slight niggle is the Queen’s name. Maevelene sounds like she should be a regular on Hee Haw. 😉 B+ for this one.