When Romany Princess Syeira Brishen first meets English nobleman Captian “Wil” Clifton, circumstances couldn’t be worse. Wil has just wounded her brother Valkin in a duel over poaching and a slight offense against Lady Haversham. Instantly drawn to one another, Syeira and Wil negotiate a complex set of societal conventions to do what’s best for each family, demonstrating what “noble” truly means. Part romance, part historical fiction, fans of each will be satisfied by Clyve Rose’s, Always a Princess.
In her author notes, Clyve Rose says she “was inspired to learn more about the people who shared England during the Regency period, by chapter 39 in Austen’s Emma, where the Romany characters receive a rather unfortunately contemporary treatment. I wanted to do this differently, and the character of Syeira grew out of my response to this.”
The plot had me curious to learn more about both Romany and English cultural practices. Syeira heals Valkin with herbs and healing arts, generously sharing her peoples’ knowledge of indigenous plants to restore the Little Chapel garden, Duchess Carston’s resting place. We learn about English Easter traditions such as egg-pacing and Morris Dancing. Syeira remarks that Easter is a pleasant time for her house, too, one where they dip lavender-scented candles, just like Wil’s mother did.
I enjoyed learning about how the groups related over trade. For example, Vlakin trades shares in horse racing ventures for hunting rights on an estate in Derbyshire. Author Rose extends the metaphor to Wil and Syeira’s relationship and the advantages each family stands to gain or lose through marriage. We also see Syeira’s anger at having been promised to an allied Romany house, used as barter for Wil’s family, and perceived as a chattel.
Most Regency romances center on a high-spirited heroine trapped in an overly long season of courting, gossip, and familial conflict over who gets to marry who. She expends all her energy tamping down her high spirits. I typically go right to the end to find out which rake our lady turns into the ideal mate. Not so here: this heroine speaks from her heart and still wins English people over. I would have been more satisfied if the princess had been allowed to follow her heart without patriarchal Romany or English tradition slowing things down. Still, the tension this created made the resolution more powerful.
Since I don’t read much romance, I found myself smirking a bit at some of the forbidden love scenes in the novel. The sexual scenes are steamy, but I was completely satisfied by the happy ending the couple enjoys. Make sure to grab your copy of Always a Princess on Amazon and stay tuned for more work coming soon from author Clyve Rose.