September 2011 / ISBN-10: 0756406986
by Carmen Ferreiro
Coronets and Steel is a delightful combination of The Prisoner
of Zenda and Xanadu with a strong female protagonist who fences
like Douglas Faribanks Jr. in the 1937 movie, and waltzes like a
well-bred princess in the royal ball.
The story starts in Vienna where Kim, a twenty-year-old Californian,
has come in search of her grandmother's ancestors. So far, she has
had no luck, but then she sees her first ghost -- a beautiful lady
dressed in a magnificent early nineteenth-century gown -- and follows
her. The ghost's encounter eventually leads her to meet Alec, the
crown prince of a small Eastern European country, who mistakes her
for his fiancée, Ruli, and kidnaps her.
Now Alec and his fiancée have no love for each other, but
marry they must in order to stop a long-running feud between their
families and initiate a Xanadu kind of magic trick that will keep
the kingdom safe. The problem is that Ruli is gone, and Kim's arrival
only complicates things.
The novel unfolds slowly, without ever dragging, and the reader
--skeptical at first like Kim-- comes to believe and love this magical
country where fairies do exist - - and maybe even vampires -- and
hope for a happy ending of the romance that, inevitably, develops
between the characters.
This was an enjoyable read which I highly recommend to those who
love adventure, political intrigue, and a sweet romance.
Be warned that this is the first volume of a series, and the situation
is not resolved here. The fact that I was really upset by this only
proves how much I was caught up in the story.