Count Valieri's Prisoner Paperback – 1 April 2013
- Publisher : Mills & Boon - AU; First edition (1 April 2013)
- Language: : English
- Paperback : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0263899977
- ISBN-13 : 978-0263899979
- Dimensions : 10.7 x 1.2 x 17 cm
- Customer Reviews:
About the Author
Sara Craven was born in South Devon just before World War II and grew up in a house crammed with books. Her early career was in provincial journalism, and she had her first novel Garden of Dreams accepted by Mills and Boon in 1975. Sara enjoys listening to music, going to the theatre, watching very old films and eating in good restaurants. She also likes to travel, especially in France, Greece and Italy where many of her novels are set.
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Top review from Australia
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Although keen on Jeremy, Maddie is not keen on any of this stuff, so when, for her job, she has a chance to go hunt down an Italian Opera singer who hasn’t been seen for thirty years, she takes it. Jeremy and Jeremy’s daddy are displeased.
In Italy, Maddie is kidnapped by Andrea for reasons. She will be released when Jeremy’s daddy responds to Andrea’s ransom demands. At this point I should mention that if as a reader you think about how this is a crime and it’s not going to matter why Andrea has done it, and how luxurious a prison he provides makes no difference, and Stockholm Syndrome would tend to negate any romantic authenticity , and this is all more than a little disturbing: I agree. And yet … there’s no point being sensible. This is modernised gothic fantasy and adorable. Plus, Stockholm Syndrome probably needs longer and maybe some completely awful things to happen to work properly, and Andrea is very attractive, has a sense of humour, is sweet to his mother, and has a gorgeous castle.
When Maddie wakes up, she’s stuck in a bedroom in a very swanky nightie and robe. She has none of her own clothes or things, nothing to read, and because the walls are all painted with murals she can’t work out where the damn door is. She’s understandably most cranky about this, because being mostly naked and scared and bored are all annoying things, but a room that makes you feel like an idiot is completely unacceptable.
She gets to snark at her kidnapper, Andrea, for a bit, and it takes her a number of encounters to work out that he is also Count Valieri. Andrea is one of those awesome aristos who is so removed from reality that he wanted to get Maddie’s measure by seeing how she would react to him if she thought him beneath her social status. Aristos love these social experiments, like when they pretend to be a peasant rather than a prince to see if a girl will fall in love with them. Maddie attempts to point out that she’s more annoyed about being kidnapped than anything else, but this is all too alien to Andrea’s understanding of how aristocracy works, so he ignores her complaint.
Andrea starts out with the appearance of grim remoteness. He seems more than vaguely threatening in the first chapter, but he lightens up considerably. Craven has this thing with heroes, where they get all deadpan and elliptical when they talk, and the reader has to assume that, even if she’s busy being completely cranky with him, the heroine has a subconscious sense that he’s not creepy dangerous, just sexy dangerous.
They flirt. I will mention once again that Maddie is not wearing any underwear, because neither Andrea or Maddie mention it when they flirt, so it’s important to know that this is subtext to every single conversation they have. ‘You are very beautiful (and I know you aren’t wearing panties, and I am thinking about how you are not wearing panties all the time)’ says Andrea. ‘I am going to turn you into the police (I cannot conceal how pointy you make me, but as soon as I find a bra I’m going to escape)!’ says Maddie.
Maddie’s escape is pure gothic styling and I adored it. Maddie herself is a great character – she’s very plucky and English about being kidnapped, and about planning her escape. When I used to read ‘The Famous Five’ and Anne would get kidnapped all the time I would imagine that Anne would eventually get pretty blasé about the whole deal, and would start flirting with the young cute kidnapper and have almost managed to get him to help her escape by the time Julian shows up with the police, much to George’s eventual disgust. I had this whole fan fic thing in my head, about what Anne was getting up to and how interesting it was, because I refused to admire George. That girl was trying way too hard. Maddie’s main flaw is her engagement to Jeremy. It meant that when the flirting got more heated, I had to firmly tell myself that kidnapping is a bit like time travel – partners are sort of Schrodinger’s cats until you get home.
I know it’s wrong, but I really do love this kind of book. It’s over the top and so much fun.
Top reviews from other countries
The plot of this one is pretty basic, although not quite as Gothic in nature as I'd hoped given the title. The heroine, Maddie, is engaged to the son of a rich and icy banker. Years of toiling under his father and begging for his approval like a dog for scraps has worn away any semblance of a spine. Their marriage is approaching and the son, Jeremy, has made it clear that he expects Maddie to un-invite her classless friends, fire the wedding dress maker and hire a designer, and, most important, quit the job she loves to serve his every beck and call.
Faster than you can say "Smash the patriarchy!", Maddie gives that a big hell-no, and books a flight to Italy, where she has been invited to interview a once-famous opera singer who went into hiding. Her means of introduction is an equally mysterious count who doesn't greet her personally but instead has a limo driver drop her off at the opera before allegedly taking her to a hotel. She falls asleep and wakes up in what is definitely not a hotel, wearing what are definitely not her clothes. As it turns out, the interview was a means of luring her to Italy where she could be kidnapped and then held hostage.
I'm a fan of kidnap romances, but I don't usually like the fluffy ones. That said, I felt like the author did a really good job making the hero not rapey. He did what he did because of revenge, and made it clear from the get-go that he had no intention of hurting her or punishing her, even when he thought she was a gold-digger. Once he got to know her, he actually started to like her a lot. So even though I'm not usually a fan of the kidnapper-with-the-heart-of-gold stereotype, this one was ... acceptable.
If you're a fan of Harlequin romances, you should pick this one up. The art is good, the story is good, the heroine is likable, and the hero actually is charming. Plus, it's only $1.66. That doesn't happen very often (the average price of these books is usually $3.99-$5.99), so it's a total bargain.
3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars
Decent writing, but the plot was pretty implausible.