Cat Johnson Braves Doll Lil’s Word Association Challenge!

Guests »

Cat Johnson Braves Doll Lil’s Word Association Challenge!

August 7, 2013 – 12:48 am | One Comment

I’m back from vacation and ready to get down and dirty finding new free and amazingly bargained books for you! But first this week I have something special. I convinced super hot and crazy talented …

Read the full story »
Home » Authors, Doll Elvie, Reviewers, Reviews

ARC Review: The Wild Princess by Mary Hart Perry

Submitted by Doll Elvie on August 16, 2012 – 4:00 am2 Comments

Author: Mary Hart Perry
Tittle: The Wild Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria’s Defiant Daughter
Release: July 31st 2012
Series: Novels of Queen Victoria’s Daughters #1
Reviewer: Elvie
Source: William Morrow
Purchase: | Book Depository

Four of the five daughters of England’s Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were regal, genteel, and everything a princess should be. But one was rebellious, scandalous, and untamed.


To the court and subjects of Queen Victoria, young Princess Louise — later the Duchess of Argyll — was the “Wild One.” Proud and impetuous, she fought the constraints placed on her and her brothers and sisters, dreamed of becoming an artist, and broke with a three-hundred-year-old tradition by marrying outside of the privileged circle of European royals. Some said she wed for love. Others whispered of a scandal covered up by the Crown. It will take a handsome American, recruited by the queen’s elite Secret Service, to discover the truth. But even as Stephen Byrne – code name the Raven – vows to risk his life to protect the royal family from violent Irish radicals, he tempts Louise with a forbidden love that could prove just as dangerous.

The Wild Princess is the debut of Mary Hart Perry, the first of five planned novels featuring the daughters of Queen Victoria of England. For those that can’t recite the entire list of England’s monarchs from William the Conqueror to the present (not that I know anyone that can do that…of course not…), Victoria was the reigning queen of England from 1837-1901, lending her name to the entire era: Victorian. She enjoyed a wildly romantic love match with her husband, Prince Albert, and together they produced nine children and married them into most of the major royal houses of Europe. Princess Louise, the heroine of our tale, was the exception. She became the first daughter of English royalty to marry a non-royal in over 300 years, and this story is a fictional account of her life.

The story begins with an emotional letter, written by Louise after her mother’s death, begging for forgiveness from an unknown person. It then reverts to 1871, to Louise’s wedding day, and procedes from there, interrupted by multiple flashbacks to events that took place some years earlier.  In this way, with much foreshadowing of coming revelations and vague hand-wringing by the heroine about dramatic events in her past, we gradually fill in the missing pieces of Louise’s life, until at the end of the book, we skip back ahead and resume the tale just after the letter from page one has been written, but now with enough context to understand its meaning.

The focal character Ms. Perry has chosen for her novel is interesting, and historically, she’s ambiguous enough to leave the author with plenty of scope for artistic license, which she admits from the beginning to doing. At the end of the book, the author also helpfully clarifies which characters and events are factual and which are fictional. The prose is solid and well-written, if at times a touch too modern for the characters’ time and place. Not all readers will be disturbed by (or even notice) a Victorian man mentally telling himself, “Don’t go there!” but I did and was. I didn’t expect (or want!) the purest Dickensian verbiage to flow from these characters’ mouths, but just occasionally, I really wished the characters hadn’t verbally gone there.

The cast of characters was deftly and mercifully kept to a manageable size, despite the size of Victoria’s brood and the many people surrounding her and her family. I was never left trying to figure out who someone was and how they fit into the cast of thousands. However, despite narrating at times from the points of view of both main characters, the two protagonists, Princess Louise and Stephen Byrne, seemed to stay at one remove from the reader. The best characters in fiction are so vibrant, it seem like they would, without doubt, breathe and talk to you, if you could just figure out a way to free them from their paper prisons. Louise and Stephen lack this immediacy; they characters are being viewed through a pane of glass, rather than being practically skin-to-skin with the reader.

Queen Victoria could not seem to decide whether she wanted to be the villain of the piece or not. Often, her words, actions, and characterizations would paint her as a nearly unbearable individual, but never quite enough to totally write her off. Other times, either through exposition or the observations and thoughts of Louise and Stephen, the author would seem to instead be offering an apology or an exculpation for Victoria. Again, though, not strongly or convincingly enough to really make it stick.

The Wild Princess is, without a doubt, epic in scope. From pimps to princesses, cowboys to kilts, suffragists to starving artists, this book covers the spectrum. It tries to be a little of many things: a coming-of-age tale, a love story, a mystery, a commentary on social justice, and an historical political thriller. However, perhaps in an attempt to keep the book at a more manageable and less than epic length, none of these plot strands are really developed to their fullest. All of them are interesting, but the book would be the better for either a more ruthless focus or a higher page count. If you are a fan of historical fiction in general, or Victoriana in particular, this book is still definitely worth picking up. It’s a quick, easy, and enjoyable read.

Elvie was raised to view books as on about the same level as food and water — utterly necessary for survival! One day her parents realized that the guest bathroom was the only room with no books. Elvie proudly carries on this tradition, although she thoughtfully provides her guests with reading material, too. As a German translator, she is lucky enough to be able to troll for great reads in two languages. She is particularly fond of historical fiction and romance, all fantasy, and sci-fi. When not sucking down books in mass quantities, Elvie enjoys cross-stitching, genealogy, movies, and wasting time on the internet. She lives in North Carolina with her daughter.
Doll Elvie
View all posts by Doll Elvie
Jennifers website


  • It sounds as though this was just a so-so read for you. :( I was hoping for more for you! Lol It’s amazing to me that, at the time, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert enjoyed a love match, but it’s awfully sad that he died so early! I bet she was heart broken!

    Unlike you (and Noa!), I’m not familiar enough with how things actually were to notice when things aren’t exactly like they were suppose to be back then, but I think I would notice a line like “Don’t go there!”

    This seems like it might be a fun read, if/when the mood springs, but usually I reach for Mary Balogh (or more recently, Jane Feather that you recommended!)

    Reply to this comment »
  • Doll Elvie says:

    I wouldn’t call it so-so, Kitt. It was probably a step above so-so. :-) I wanted it to be a homerun; what I got was an enjoyable evening. I’m not left wanting back the hours I spent reading the book, or anything! So I can’t complain.

    Queen Victoria and Prince Albert really did have a remarkable and epic love match, but her extreme mourning after his tragic death was really pathological and unhealthy! Also, it makes her a massive hypocrite for having enjoyed such a relationship, and then being so mercenary about the marriages of her children.

    If you usually reach for Mary Balogh and Jane Feather (oooh! how are you liking her??), then I’m not sure this will do it for you. The romantic element comes up very short, as the main character spends most of the book denying her feelings for the rather out-of-place Texan hero. It’s definitely historical fiction, rather than historical romance.

    Reply to this comment »