As historical romances go, Sabrina Jeffries’ To Pleasure a Prince is not that frustratingly bad. Being the second installment of the Royal Brotherhood series, it has even a better premise and deeper characterization. Forget about the bawdy, improper title, for it has nothing to do with the light yet sad and complicated story, the darkly secret history of the main character, or even the romantic atmosphere shrouding it. Once again, Jeffries tries to connect her entertaining romance tale with the historical fact so that it won’t appear only as an attached, useless background. Having read this book, I would say that she, to a certain degree, quite succeeds in doing it.
The story follows Jeffries’ usual pattern: having a practical agreement and then falling in love in the middle of the plan. Miss Regina Tremaine comes to Marcus North, the sixth Viscount Draker, for help. It seems to be, in the realm of historical romance, a reasonable thing to do, and, to some extent, a reasonable help to ask, however trivial it may be. Regina wants Marcus to give way to her brother’s courtship to Marcus’ younger sister, Louisa, for she believes that her brother, Simon Tremaine, the Duke of Foxmoor, truly has sincere feelings for Louisa and solely intends to marry her. Marcus doesn’t approve of the already running courtship for, somehow, he knows that Simon is Prinny’s right-hand man and that marriage is never his intention. But, eventually, they come to terms: Marcus will let Simon court Louisa on the understanding that Regina will let him court her. The planned courtship is, of course, not only about going to social parties, operas, balls and such, but also sparking emotions and desires rising up to the fever pitch. Jeffries also spices it up with clash of words, battle of wits, allegations, opposing points of views, and a bit of shame and insecurity. Before you know it, Marcus and Regina’s marriage is on the line, making Simon’s ploy to get Louisa fallen into his hands, and the reason behind it, quickly forgotten.
Knowing from first-hand experience, it seems to me so reasonable for any romance to have stubborn characters. But stubbornness has been Sabrina Jeffries’ trademark, I guess. Marcus North and Regina Tremaine do not seem to fit each other, because they are too stubborn to bear some balance. Some romances put two stubborn characters together, yes, but their stubbornness is too overwhelming for words. This nature of theirs is indeed the base of their conflict, and what strengthens the already tight tension gripping their relationship along the whole book. But, if the author is not careful, an intense stubbornness can also be a tricky trap in which readers fall into boredom and do not bother to finish the book anymore. Fortunately, the deep and intricate characterization Jeffries put on Marcus makes him forgivable to read, and the immaculately researched disease she describes in the portrayal of Regina makes this book even more bearable to finish. And they both are not merely some flat characters to peruse, either. They drip with emotions, and that’s just the best thing Jeffries can do about this book.
The plot To Pleasure a Prince has is simplicity itself. It’s so poorly predictable, though I cannot say whether it’s been the marketably acceptable pattern or it’s just Jeffries’ typical mindset of plotting. Be that as it may, I must confess that I was quite shocked in the middle of the book, where marriage is set to become a part of the conflict building instead of the exciting climax or even the ending we all expect to have. But what’s impressive about this book is, as always the case with Jeffries’ works, its witty humor, funny yet meaningful dialogues, and the style of writing Jeffries consistently uses. They are all the features of Sabrina Jeffries’ writing I’ve always been fond of ever since the first time I read her work. The hilarity is undoubtedly simple, as well, but still triggering my smile and laugh. To Pleasure a Prince might seem so simple, and don’t forget entertaining, in every aspect a historical romance could have, but the fact that it has a great story and characterization cannot be overlooked. To be honest, this second book of the Royal Brotherhood trilogy is so much better than the first one. In my opinion, at least.
All things considered, To Pleasure a Prince is a must read for the sake of entertainment, if you can forgive its poor plot and annoyingly stubborn characters. Its historical aspect may not be that accurate or believable, but that’s because Jeffries is too busy making an acceptable connection between her story and the history she wants to use as the background. So, yes, I quite recommend this book, especially to those who love historical romances.