"There is star quality in this writer!" raves the Romantic Times about gifted author Gaelen Foley. Her love stories are filled with glorious settings, stunning characters, and unforgettable passion.
Destiny casts its hand one perfect moonlit night when Ascencion's most elusive highwayman, the Masked Rider, chooses the wrong coach to rob. For inside is Rafael, the prince of the kingdom, renowned for his hot-blooded pursuits of women and other decadent pleasures. The failed raid leaves the equally notorious Masked Rider wounded and facing a hangman's noose. Then Rafe realizes his captive criminal is Lady Daniela Chiaramonte, a defiant beauty who torments him, awakening his senses and his heart as no woman has before.
Dani can only wonder if she's been delivered to heaven or hell once she agrees to marry the most desirable man in the Mediterranean—until forces of treachery threaten to destroy their tenuous alliance and bring down the throne itself. . . .
Gaelen Foley was Author of the Month in April in the Historical Romance Chat Yahoo group, and for once, I was able to read the AotM in the right month. Luckily, I already had this book out from the library so it fitted in nicely with my reading timetable!
This is the third and final book in the Ascension trilogy following on from The Pirate Prince and Princess and features the brother of the heroine from the second book, Rafael. He is portrayed as the ultimate playboy prince. Whilst destined to one day become king of Ascension, he has little responsibility of his own, so spends his days with his friends, womanising and partying, and not much else. Not that that is all his own fault...his father Lazar finds it difficult to let go of the reigns of power to his playboy son. However, when Lazar becomes ill, then there is no choice but to hand over the throne to Rafe whilst he goes to get treatment. But there is a condition, Rafe must agree to marry one of several specially chosen women who would make suitable queens.
In the meantime, Rafe has met Lady Daniela Chiaramonte - albeit when she was disguised as the Masked Rider who has been doing her best to terrorise the nobility - stealing from the rich to give to the poor. But Dani lives in a very different world from Rafe, one where she has to work her family's holding to make ends meet, and so when Rafe invites her to a ball she feels very out of place. And whereas it was Rafe's intention to have his way with her and then forget about her, his feelings begin to grow, and once the Masked Rider is unmasked, he decides that he can solve two problems at once by marrying her.
One thing that was a bit unbelievable was that a royal wedding could be arranged in a matter of days, without the presence of any of the rest of the royal family, but that is a minor quibble. The newlyweds are not left to live an idyllic life though, because it seems that there are those within the government that are determined to get rid of Rafe - either by framing him for attempting to murder the King or if necessary by killing him, so the second half of the book concentrates on trying to identify who the bad link in the government is - could it be someone very close to the royal family themselves. This subplot was kind of a distraction from the love story between Rafe and Dani, but the resolution drew the characters that we had come to know and love from all three books back together nicely.
This story was really hard to put down - a really strong story, like the first book in the trilogy, but what was is with the cover? Such a boring cover! Then again, the cover for Princess was pretty average too if I recall correctly.
So now I have finished the Ascension trilogy, I will be moving on to the Knights Miscellany series...can't wait!