Title: Royal Seduction
Author: Jennifer Blake
Release Date: December 1983
Length: 340 pages
Series?: Royal Princes of Ruthenia #1
Genre: Historical, Romance
On a mission to bring his brother’s killer to justice, the devastatingly charming Prince Rolfe of Ruthenia takes Angelina Fortina captive at a Louisiana country ball. Mistaking Angelina for her cousin Claire who fled Europe after the death of Ruthenia’s heir apparent, Rolfe commits an inexcusable error: using sensual threat in an attempt to pry information from the woman he thought was his late brother’s mistress.
Still, Rolfe cannot let Angelina go. It’s not just that she may yet lead him to Claire — it’s that her touch, and hers alone, has the power to make him forget the bitterness of his past.
Their passionate odyssey in search of justice, however, may already be compromised. For the enemy they seek travels with them, ready to strike should love temper the ruthless desire of Ruthenia’s future king and make him a vulnerable target.
I first read this book in my mid or late teens. When it had a very different cover. At the time, I thought it highly romantic and adventurous.
After reading it as an adult, I still find it highly adventurous, but I see some pieces differently.
Rolfe and his men have honed in on Louisiana, hot on the heels of his murdered brother’s lover. It is made clear over the course of the book that Rolfe – now the heir – thinks that the mistress is the murderer.
Angeline is a dutiful niece, courting the upper crust of society. Her relationship with her aunt, her chaperone, is very strained. Often, she seeks out the local convent to be helpful and avoid her resentful aunt.
Rolfe and his guards take over the ball and make waves when he specifically targets Angeline for a dance. She is left confused and shaken, and tries to clarify that she is not her well-traveled cousin Claire. They look so alike as to be twins, but she is not who he seeks. Unable to do much at the time, Rolfe and his men lie in wait, watching the house that night, for the moment to secret Angeline away and solve his problem.
On a mission that night to save her notify and ultimately save her cousin Claire, Angeline is captured while making the return trip back home.
This novel does have the captor/captive element woven throughout the entire novel. Rolfe is an alpha male. He is strong in body and mind, perhaps a bit psychotic, and really reminds me of a swashbuckling pirate on land the way he is often described. He is ruthless and unforgiving, but after that night when he tries to force information out of Angeline, he is remorseful and hates what he has done to Angeline, but at the same time sees no other way around what happened. She told him many times he was wrong, and even not believing her, he or his men could have asked anyone at the ball to verify her identity.
Some label this night as “forced seduction”, but it is rape. Bottom line. There is no sugarcoating reality that people are often wont to do. And that is the difference I saw in reading this as a teen and an adult.
Rolfe continues to hold Angeline hostage, hoping to eventually make her break, and obtain the information he seeks about Claire. But Angeline has lived a relatively hard life and has made her very practical. She doesn’t have a fit of vapors or go on a rampage.
The plot is driven by Rolfe’s need to find Claire, and the story continues as they hunt down leads. As they travel across the countryside, Angeline is kidnapped by other people a few times. Eventually, she comes to be back at home and then led on a wild goose chase. She comes face to face with the murderer.
The story is told from Angeline’s perspective, so all of Rolfe’s inner thoughts – and I’m sure there were A LOT – are left up in the air. And she maintains that practical mindset in knowing that he is royalty and she is a commoner, so there could never be a marriage between them. She resigns herself to the fact that Rolfe only wants her physically and nothing more because there can be no more.
However, therein lies the misunderstandings between Angeline and Rolfe. They don’t talk about any of those things. The full breadth of his feelings are never revealed until its nearly too late. He doesn’t want her to become the next target for the murderer – because he or she is now after Rolfe.
I enjoyed this book when I read it as a teen, and again as an adult. I might read it again this summer. The highly-driven action plot is one of the greatest pieces of this novel, alongside the interesting story.