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Prince of Dreams by Lisa Kleypas

Monday, July 11, 2011

Prince of Dreams
Stokehursts #2

Lisa Kleypas
Historical Romance/Time Travel
Published in 1995

H/h - Prince Nikolas Angelovsky/Emma Stokehurst
Setting: Russia/London, 1877 and Russia, 1707.

Read in March, 2011.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5

                                                                              [spoiler alert]

I'm confused. Maybe I thought too much about this book, now ending up with that-something-missing feeling all over it. This book is definitely different and darker than LK's other books. I can't say I'm not liking it, I am but things are bothering me here, too.

I liked Emma quite a lot when she was a 12 yrs old, seemed so mature, understanding for her young age. But, the grown up Emma is kinda grating on me. More immature and honestly, I'm frustrated with her. I know she is insecured, emotionally at least. With Luke, Tasia and step-siblings, no matter how they all love her, she feels like an outsider. There is a line actually in the book where her thought is revealed. I can see this, father loves the stepmother so very much, the family's all dark haired while she's redhaired ... They look like a complete family while she ... Maybe I'm being a bit overdramatic but I saw this while reading about her insecurities. And, no, I don't have visions like Tasia! :p hahahaha So, after the debacle with her so-called suitor, she's angry with her father. She thinks her overbearing father made him go away. Then she sees him getting engaged to someone in America and goes to Nikolas and well ... does 'it' and now on the way to marry him ... Her thoughts (while some of them on different stuffs I supported) on her upcoming marriage is simply childish.

Nikolas is so ... I have no 'that one word' to describe him. I can see why people hate him with a passion. He's been after Emma like a fox on a hunt. But, can't say I hate him too, yet. I have to take his past into consideration, a sad and desolate one at that. He's a sly manipulative bastard and he wants Emma bad! And when he wants something, nothing stands in his way. If he didn't have this destructive mindset, I would've thought it's damn hot but I'm not sure about my feelings about him now. It was he who made Emma's suitor go away but I agreed with him and Luke, who didn't want the marriage to take place from the start. That guy was a parasite.

This book is really leaving me with odds and ends I'm not sure about ...

I've been thinking all day. And, I couldn't come to any decision about Nikolas. What would you do with a man who had this awful, horrible childhood which made him a cynical, manipulative SOB, who is so afraid of love/falling in love that he goes whoring, just so that his wife would never love him, who wants to stay lonely because being close to her chokes him, scares him but even after all these, he regrets the wrongs he's done and drinks and wants to be with her but just can't bring himself to do it ... God, I have no idea what to do with a man like this! There were many times, I couldn't but agree with Emma's thoughts and heartaches and hurts and disillutionments about Nikolas. He's such a complex character. And, then he faints, regains consciousness and tells her he loves her! He needs her, wants her ... What the heck do you do with him????????? Of course, can't blame Emma when she decides to distrust and ignore him. Just can't. And, then there was the issue of the bastard child. No, I adore Jake but c'mon, a milkmaid? How low can one sink?!

Like some others, at first I thought the timetravel part was unnecessary. Felt out of place. But, at the end of that part, I didn't think it was. The whole part was for a definite reason and I hope, like me, others will see it too. I wondered why the previous lovescenes didn't stir me quite the way I hoped them to (and LK lovescenes ALWAYS make my stomach flutter!). I felt uneasy. But, then at the end of timetravel part, I knew my answer. It was the lacking of raw emotion from Nikolas. It was all about techniques before, no cuddling afterwards, even Emma lost all hope. The descriptions were kinda vague. But that one lovescene and the incidents before and after it, I cried. Simple as that. It was so damned heartbreaking. I knew if Nikolas was a man just like the Nikolai of the past, I would've loved him from the start.

And, then the thing about his relationship with his great-great-great grandmother Emelia, who resembled Emma to a fault (just as Nikolas resembles Nikolai). Some said it was incestuous. I didn't think it was. Well, if you take all of it literally, it sure would look like that but who was Nikki when he timetraveled back to 1707? He was Nikolai for sure, he didn't have the scars of torture in his body, which made me think the future Nikki was just a memory in Nokolai's head. Well, the whole part is kinda complicated and I'm sure people would like to make different meaning of all these. I only cared for the part where I saw that Nikki could love as any other man, only if he could let his ugly past go.

Then when he comes back to 1877, he's mad about Emma (actually, he has no more fear to tell her of his feelings). But, Emma rebuffs him and as I said before, couldn't blame her a bit. I've started liking Emma again after the marriage and really adored the way she handled all of Nikolas's callousness and indiscretions. She even turns away Milbank, her old suitor, who came back and offered her a discreet affair. She could've done that but decided not to. And, after knowing about Jake, she was outraged but not at all towards the child. She took him in, took care of him when Nikolas was determined to ignore the boy.

Then of course, all these changed after the fainting incident. Nikki now dotes on the child, and there is a reason behind it, too. I actually adored the way he bestowed his affection on the kid. So, as I said, this Nikki I could certainly love. He tried and tried to get to Emma. One day, Emma saw a dream of the convent ... I won't explain but it had something to do with Emelia and Nikolai's story. Emma got scared and she automatically reached for Nikki and this was the first time I loved a lovescene between these two. Even Emma thought this so freakin' different as Nikki never showed her any emotion beyond physical. This left her confused. She doesn't know, just like me, what to do with this situation. It's certainly tough. I, myself have very ambivalent feelings toward Nikolas. I wanna hate him, he has all the qualities that'd make me abhor a man (doesn't matter he's goodlooking or rich) but knowing the other things, just can't do that straightaway. Also, seeing the way he can love, I'm not even sure I wanna hate him!

I must sound crazy!

I'm still confused...

Ah, what a book! The ending was so beautiful, I cried and wished it didn't end. And, there aren't any other books in the series so I can have more glimpse of Nikki and Emma, of their lives together. A longtime after I finished the book, couldn't sleep thinking what to do. I mean, what to rate, or write about the book. To tell you the truth, I wasn't at all sure about the rating but after finishing it, I'm giving it a 4.5 because I loved the story. It takes a brilliant author to make you hate a character, then see reasons and make you love him. Yes, in the end, I couldn't deny it that I did care for Nikki and I'm never so easily swayed! I also have to give credit to LK for such a well-researched book, along with Midnight Angel. I did go to Wikipedia and looked for Tsar Peter (I) and read about his eldest son Alexei. There are things about him and his life that do match with Nikolai. His mistress Afrosinya sounds too much like Emelia, looks and all. There's no confirmation to what happened to her after Alexei died, if she was pregnant or not. Nikolai and Emelia's story has a lot in common with this.

Now, I have to say, the story has two distinct parts for me. One before Nikki's fainting incident, the other after it. It's like he got a new life. The later Nikki (along with Nikolai), as I menioned before, I could definitely love. I took in all his troubles in life and I decided to forgive his transgressions. This is what I got from fantasticfiction.co.uk:

The bitter Prince Nicolas falls in love with the strong-willed Emma, who is secretly promised to another. Although he manipulates her into marriage, their conflicted relationship fails to fill the empty places in their hearts. Until a mysterious ancestor takes the Prince to another time and place--and a remarkable woman teaches him the power of compassion and forgiveness.

I do believe I agree with the last line. And, he proved he can do it, change himself entirely. I know a lot of people didn't see past his earlier transgressions and hated him for being what he used to be but I didn't. And, I applaud Emma once more for looking into things very honestly and following her heart. It must've been difficult to put a trust that was so badly frayed but they both were willing to gamble and ultimately, won.

I, again, wanna talk about Nikolai and Emelia. Their story was so so heartbreaking, specially the last scene. When Nikolai was letting Emelia go, I believe I read one of the saddest parting lines ever:

... He didn't know how to say good-bye. His throat ached from the strain of holding back his emotions. “I don't want to leave you,” he said humbly, reaching for her cold, stiff hands.

 Emma lowered her head, her tears falling freely. “I'll never see you again, will I?”

 He shook his head. “Not in this lifetime,” he said hoarsely.

 She pulled her hands away and wrapped her arms around his neck. He felt her wet lashes brush his cheek. “Then I'll wait a hundred years,” she whispered. “Or a thousand, if I must. Remember that, Nikki. I'll be waiting for you to come to me.”

And she spent 43 yrs alone, finally passing away in 1750. Nikolai died that same year they parted (1707), in prison, waiting for his trial for treason against the Tsar. It was all revealed in the end, as Nikki asked a british scholar to find out what happened to Emelia later in life and their son Alexei.

There was also a twist with Emma's formar suitor Milbank. I pitied the man afterwards but he made his bed and there's nothing could be done for him.

Finally, I can only say that I should've read the book long before this. I hesitated, reading all those negetive reviews and wasn't sure what the setting in Russia would feel like. I'm so glad I finally did. But I also agree that the 1st time LK readers shouldn't start with this book. They should read her other novels and then give it a go. :)


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