Behind the Palace Walls by Lynn Raye Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is fairy tale stuff. A normal girl goes to Russia, meets a billionaire, gorgeous prince, and ends up married to him. However, this fairy tale heroine has to work hard for her happy ending. Her fairy tale prince is a prisoner in his self-constructed tower of loneliness. Driven by vengeance, he has closed himself off to love. It will take a courageous, determined heroine to conquer this prince.
Russia sung its siren song to me through this book. I liked the touches that Ms. Harris added to make it realistic. I was fully immersed in this story, with its beautiful accents of Russian language and culture.
I didn't find this book as passionate as I had hoped for a Harlequin Presents, and I don't mean sex. I mean I felt that Alexei held himself too isolated from Paige, and I didn't feel a sense that he was desperate for her. That's something I love in a hero, a hero that is so much in love/captivated with the heroine that all bets are off. I wanted to see more of that feeling from Alexei. When I read a plain jane romance, I want to feel that yes, the hero is the man who finds her irresistible and falls madly in love with her. To me it seems very obvious that a man can fall for a beautiful, glamorous woman that has everything going for her. That's not escapism in its purest form, it's fairly plausible in real life. But for a prince to fall for a normal girl, that gets my romantic heart beating fast. I did feel that Paige felt hard and fast, and that Alexei held all the cards too long, not a preferred scenario for me. Eventually, I came to see that Paige had found the key to Alexei's well-guarded heart and he couldn't stay away from Paige or deny his love any longer, but I guess I didn’t feel it as much as I wanted to. As a positive, I did like that when Alexei finally opens up, he tells her Paige all his painful secrets, revealing himself fully to her.
Although Russians hail from a land of bitter cold, I view them as strong, enduring people of fiery emotions, so I wanted to see more of that emotionalism in Alexei. That was really my issue with this book, why I didn’t rate it higher. I like for a Harlequin Presents to have that zing, and this one was more of a mild buzz, although it was written well.
Still a good book, especially if you like Russian settings and Russian characters. I liked that Ms. Harris worked hard to give it an authentic feel in that regard. And I thought Paige was a good heroine, an everyday kind of girl that I imagine I would like very much if I knew her in real life. I’m so glad she got her happy ending.
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