Review for She's No Princess, by Laura Lee Guhrke:
She's No Princess is set up as the inverse of And Then He Kissed Her; in this case, it's the man who's rigidly proper, and the woman who is wild and flirtatious and cares most for rules. Sir Ian Moore, a British diplomat, has been given the infuriating task of finding an English husband for Lucia Valenti, the daughter of an Italian prince. She's caused too many scandals, and her father wants her out of his country and out of his hair...within 6 weeks. Lucia and Ian, stuck with each other in London, try alternately to manipulate, bully, and on Lucia's part, seduce each other. Like And Then He Kissed Her, it's one long seduction, and it's truly enjoyable to watch Ian trying to resist Lucia's overtures.
Lucia is some sort of living aphrodisiac, and every man she encounters goes crazy for her. Granted, she's an enormous and shameless flirt, so this is more plausible and less annoying than it is in other romance novels. Plus Lucia is fun and mischeivous and a bit outrageous, so it's easy to see why people fall for her.
Ian is pure English, with strict notions of duty, honor, and propriety that he holds himself to. He works too hard and never lets his emotions show or relaxes. It's why Lucia can't help teasing him and working him up, and why it's so fun to see.
As in the last novel of Guhrke's I reviewed, she does a beautiful job of moving her characters from apathy/disdain to obsession. Unfortunately, she leaves a lot to be desired in this story. Neither of the characters seem to develop or grow. The ending is unsatisfying. And most problematic of all both Ian and Lucia do something really cruel to the other, and Guhrke never adequately resolves this.
Add to that the facat that I wasn't sure Ian truly loved Lucia, rather than being taken over by mad lust by a little sexpot, and I couldn't give this novel more than a B. Up to the last 70 pages, though, it's a superb read.