Well, it’s not entirely skippable…
One would think that by now its very, very firmly established that Prince Christopher is truly wild about our titular lead, Elianna. Rather regrettably, Elianna still seems to have not gotten that message, and in this volume she spends a significant amount of time worrying over the fact that maybe the prince isn’t interested in her after all and instead would prefer to establish a harem. Other machinations go on (and a nine year old would-be child bride turns out to be responsible for much of it), but none of it can distract from the fact that this is a book that is desperately treading water. I like Elianna enough that I could forgive her lack of confidence were it not for the fact that it leaves a narrative that is a chore to get through. Perhaps even worse is that there are some bits and pieces sprinkled in of information that can’t be entirely skipped over lest it leave some gaps going forward, as we spend much more time with Queen Henrietta than has previously been the case. There’s good stuff here, but its sandwiched between a lot of chaff.
It took me a long while to read this book despite picking it up when it was published. The opening pages consist of several members of the cast mocking Lord Glen because he’s been betrothed to a child… and its just not as funny as it thinks it is. Ha ha, the playboy is going to marry a kid who is fifteen years his junior! Ha ha ha wowzers isn’t child marriage funny! I got through about four pages before I set the book aside for four months. My second try arose more because I’d heard that the fourth volume was a significant upgrade and because I had liked the first two volumes rather than because I expected to enjoy this one; even the child bride thing aside, I’d been aware that this was a rough volume before the retry. That knowledge is all that was able to keep me going; there were big chunks I mostly skimmed because it really was that poor.
In addition to the repetitive nature of much of it, I really, really disliked a subplot involving a noblewoman and her daughter who are trying to upstage Elianna. It required that we somehow see it as positive and good for Queen Henrietta to forcibly shove the pair back into their place by telling them they’re vulgar and sneering at the daughter for still being unmarried. The depiction of the pair is too cartoonishly evil for them to be taken seriously, so it just feels nasty for them to be treated so derisively by the most powerful woman in the books.
So, I made it through… and I actually started volume four right away, since I figured I never would work myself up to it if I did not! So, you can keep your eyes peeled for that, and you can also take that as indicative that, as bad as this outing was, it isn’t quite time to toss the whole series over.