Tag Archives: Princess in Hiding

A Princess in Hiding Series: The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match

Despite the wonderful writing and Juliana Gray’s consistent ability to create interesting characters and throw in some excitement, I couldn’t fully enjoy the Victorian romance novella The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match, but I didn’t mind. I paid a reasonable sum for the book, and since I borrowed all of her other novels from the library, I am happy to have contributed to Gray’s coffers. May she enjoy my shekels in good health and continue to devise the complex, dovetailed series plots and wonderful characterizations at which she excels.

From Amazon: Aboard the luxuriously appointed SS Majestic, the duke is on a mission to retrieve a most important portfolio of papers and thwart a known anarchist. As the ship steams across the Atlantic, the duke’s search for the notorious master of disguise forces him into close quarters with an American heiress and her widowed governess, Mrs. Penelope Schuyler. While Olympia has known his fair share of intriguing women, Mrs. Schuyler seems to have a way of challenging his expectations at every turn. But as their clandestine meetings lead them down an unexpected path, the duke must determine if Penelope is a woman to be trusted.

The Duke of Olympia appears in both of Gray’s published trilogies and I have described him previously as “a conniving old son of a bitch thoroughly experienced in shenanigans”. A compelling character, there is just one problem with giving him his own book and a love interest. He may be 6′ 5″ tall, hale and hearty, broad of chest and deep of voice, but he is seventy-four years old. It’s a perfectly reasonable age to fall in love in the real world, but for a romance novel he falls beyond the line for me. I could have lived with sixty. The heroine, Penelope, a delightful character, is just about fifty. Age differences, of course, grow less important in relationships the older we get, but Olympia is SEVENTY-FOUR years old and Penelope is young enough to be his daughter. I am a Woman of a Certain Age and The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match has the character equivalent of me becoming romantically involved with my father-in-law. I couldn’t get past it. If Penelope had been a decade older, or the Duke younger, I would have been delighted to read their story, but the combination of the vast age difference and his septuagenarian status became an insurmountable combination.

For a historical romance with large age difference that works, I recommend Julie Anne Long’s genre classic What I Did for a Duke. He’s pushing forty, she’s twenty and Long absolutely pulls it off.

Also by Juliana Gray:

The Affairs by Moonlight Trilogy
A Lady Never Lies
A Gentleman Never Tells
A Duke Never Yields – most recommended of the three

A Princess in Hiding Trilogy
How to Tame Your Duke
How to Master Your Marquis – most recommended of the three
How to School Your Scoundrel
The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

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A Princess in Hiding Series: How to Tame Your Duke & How to Master Your Marquis by Juliana Gray

New author! Juliana Gray is a very strong historical romance writer with a wonderful turn of phrase, a gift for simile, and great smolder. It is such an unexpected pleasure when a book randomly selected from the romance spinner at one’s library results in a new novelist to enjoy. I went back the next day, and the next, to get more of her books. Gray will be going on my woefully short good authors list and may well end up as an autobuy.

The “A Princess in Hiding” trilogy features three German aristocrats, Emilie, Stefanie, and Luisa, who have fled political unrest in their home country to arrive in London and the bosom of an uncle who has the least British-sounding aristocratic title in all of romance: the Duke of Olympia. A conniving old son of a bitch thoroughly experienced in shenanigans, he trains each woman and then sends her into hiding as a young man and, coincidentally, the story of what happens to each of them takes about 350 pages to tell.

How to Tame Your Duke – Ashland and Emilie

The Duke of Olympia arranges for Princess Emilie to be hired by the Duke of Ashland as a tutor for his teenaged son, the Marquess. Aristocracy is very thick on the ground in this series. In the wilds of Yorkshire, Emilie succeeds in her efforts to appear to be a bearded male despite my extremely serious misgivings about how convincing a fake beard would be up close on a day-to-day basis in 1889. Ashland  is big, battle-scarred, and several other Gothic things, but basically a very nice, very intense man. His Duchess decamped 12 years ago, so it is just he and his son in his palace on the moors which, sadly, is not also in the style of a Moorish palace. Emilie and Ashland fall in love, not while she is pretending to be a man, but while she is pretending to be a prostitute which is not quite as squicky as it sounds. All the truths come out, except the one about who is trying to harm the princesses, and this particular one weds her prince Duke.

I liked the characters in How to Train Your Duke, I even liked the young Marquess. Gray did not dwell overmuch in the machinations and subterfuge for which I was grateful. Emilie was a strong woman and determined not to be treated as the kind of pawn women often were in her situation. She takes what she wants.

How to Master Your Marquis – Hatherfield and Stefanie

Princess Stefanie ends up hiding in the home of a renowned criminal defense barrister (that’s going to come in handy later) who just happens to be the close friend of a man so good-looking that she refers to him as “The Archangel” in her head. James Lambton, Marquis of Hatherfield, is a glorious, beautiful, and charming man. Estranged from his parents, he spends a great deal of time at his friend’s home. His presence increases when he meets Stefanie and realises IMMEDIATELY that she is a woman dressed as a man and that she requires protection. I thought it a bit much that Ashland didn’t figure Emilie out sooner, so kudos to Gray on the logic of this twist. Unfortunately for Hatherfield, his friend’s house also contains one Lady Charlotte who is determined, and in league with Hatherfield’s parents, to land the Marquis. In a historically unrealistic, but modern applause worthy move, Hatherfield exploits the horror at his clearly inappropriate infatuation with the law clerk and lets everyone think he is gay and therefore relieve the marital pressure.

I was charmed by both of the main characters in How to Master Your Marquis; however, there was a plotting element involving sexual abuse that I did not like as it took me out of the fantasy realm these novels dwell in. It was not an exploitative or a particularly large element, but its very presence diminished the book for me. I have zero tolerance for subplots like these in romance. Caveat reader.

The last book in the trilogy, How to School Your Scoundrel, comes out in June and I will be looking for it at my library. In the meantime, I am reading another Gray trilogy, Affairs by Moonlight, and the titular rogue of How to School Your Scoundrel appears as the utter bastard of a villain in one of the books. It will be interesting to see how well Gray can reform such a reprehensible individual.

Great Details:

  1. The men are referred to almost exclusively by their titles, i.e. Ashland and Hatherfield, or their last names.
  2. Aristocrats have servants, lots of servants. It’s an uncomfortable period detail to those of us not enamored of inherited privilege, but an accurate one.
  3. Hatherfield is a rower. This explains his beautiful physique and provides a rare thing in romance: justifiable muscles.
  4. Stefanie and Emilie slept in the same bed growing up. What an excellent period detail.
  5. How to Master Your Marquis has a simultaneous flash forward plot that Gray dovetails extremely well with the present story line.

Also by Juliana Gray:

The Affairs by Moonlight Trilogy
A Lady Never Lies
A Gentleman Never Tells
A Duke Never Yields – most recommended of the three

A Princess in Hiding Series
How to Tame Your Duke
How to Master Your Marquis 
How to School Your Scoundrel 
The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match (novella)

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.