Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Sandalwood Princess - Loretta Chase

After a number of years keeping house for her brother in India, Amanda Cavencourt has decided to return to her native England. She receives a sandalwood fertility carving as a going-away gift from Rani Simhi, a notorious Indian princess she has befriended. Amanda soon learns that this carving is coveted by the powerful Lord Headgrave, who bears a grudge against Rani Simhi. Headgrave hires a mysterious, infamous thief named ''the Falcon'' to steal the carving from her. Although the Falcon is successful, clever Amanda manages to find a way to get it back--and steals the Falcon's heart in the bargain.

Amanda is a feisty even if sometimes too trusting heroine, but she’s also funny and very perceptive. Just the kind of girl I love to read about. When the story starts, she is about to leave her adoptive country, India, where she lived several years with her brother. Since he married, she felt that her presence was not really welcomed by her sister-in-law and decided to return to England.
In her last night in the country, she visits a princess who gives her a very mysterious statue, The Sandalwood Princess. Meanwhile, another person is also interested in the statue and hires a mysterious man going by the name of The Falcon to steal the precious gift from Amanda that same night. The next day they are both aboard the same boat returning to their home country…

If Amanda is a delicious heroine, The Falcon is a charmer! Philip Astonley, Viscount Felkoner (aka Mr. Brentick) didn’t think twice when he stole the statue from the young lady. Now, while returning home he meets and gets to know her and slowly falls under her charm. Arrogant, adventurous, charismatic, he has everything to win her heart, and ours too!

They both lie to each other and do everything they can to keep the statue, but somehow Loretta Chase manages to create a very dynamic couple who, in the end, understand they just cannot live without each other. Their bickering and competition is really funny. The initial condescending attitude from Philip quickly changes when he understands that Amanda is much more than a pretty lady and she stands up to him as an equal.

The story is not only exciting and very well crafted (in 220 pages!), we also get moments of pure fun and those are entirely Padji’s fault. The man is hilarious and kept me laughing out loud all the way until the end.

I read The Sandalwood Princess for the first time a couple of years ago and since then it remained one of my favorite Traditional Regencies. For me, it has a bit of everything I enjoy in a good story: a solid and exciting plot, a sparkling leading couple, attaching secondary characters (a special mention again for Padji) and an irresistible sense of humor. Also, it’s set in India which for me it’s always a plus!

Grade: 4.5/5




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