cover image Tempting the Prince

Tempting the Prince

Patricia Grasso, . . Zebra, $6.99 (315pp) ISBN 978-0-8217-8072-5

An illegitimate aristocrat faces a determined serial killer and an even more determined suitor in Grasso's latest, a charming but ultimately empty Regency romance. Belle Flambeau is one of seven sisters, the daughters of artistocrats who never married: a French countess, deceased, and an English duke they haven't seen for 15 years. As if her dubious parentage weren't barrier enough to wedded bliss, she's attacked by a serial killer, the Society Slasher, on the way home from her fiancé's and left with a scar across her face. Soon after her betrothed rejects her, Belle meets Mikhail Kazanov, a wealthy prince, who falls instantly in love. But because Belle refuses to go out into society for fear of being seen, Kazanov must contrive an elaborate scheme to court her while feigning blindness. Just when things seem to be going right, Belle is targeted both by the jealous women of the ton and the Slasher, who's determined to finish her off. Alternately entertaining and tedious, this romance features a delightful heroine in Belle, a solid counterpart in Mikhail and a witty supporting cast, but the Slasher mystery proves frustrating; not only is the killer's identity obvious, he never feels like a real threat. Though her characters are a joy, a lack of real conflict hobbles the promising setup. (May)