by Nicole Burnham

May 2003
ISBN: 0-373-19663-0
Reviewer Graphic Button Silhouette #1663
Mass Market Paperback

The title of this book immediately reminded me of my favorite fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, where a helpless princess is awakened with a single kiss. Donít we all love damsels in distress and dutiful princes! But, this is a tale of a jet-lagged, workaholic, Harvard educated princess who is so busy with duty and the happiness of others that our beauty has no time even for sleep! Add a handsome, charming Knight who snores in her presence and prefers dungeons for eating and sleeping, because heís obsessed with her ancient artifacts, and their destiny waits in a delightfully romantic modern day fairy tale. Any connoisseur of fairy tales knows that the knight will end up rescuing the poor, lonely, all work and no play princess from herself. In a great twist, itís the princess to the rescue and the handsome knight in shining armor who has the terrible curse and is in need of rescuing!

Nick Black is a reclusive art historian specializing in San Riminian artwork and is hired by Princess Isabella of San Rimini to catalog artifacts and historical documents of her family that go back nearly a thousand years. This is the opportunity Nick has waited 100 lifetimes for! Maybe there will be information about the witch Rufina who cast the immortality spell that fateful day in 1190 when he was on a mission for Isabellaís forebear, King Bernardo. He was cursed to roam the earth for not helping a youth in need. Instead, he was only concerned with his mission from the king and his own life and ambition. Not at all knightly behavior, Nick.

All work and no play make for a dull princess, but Isabella has more to offer than a dark, crumbling dungeon. These two appear to have nothing in common but the love for the artifacts and a desire to share them with the world. Sheís white to his black, softness to his rough, jagged edginess. On one of his first searches, Nick finds a beautiful sword that in truth was his almost a millennium ago. I laughed aloud at the authorsí use of double entendre when sheís holds his sword and asks, ďwhere do I put my hands?Ē Since he met her, he wants her, but knows he is using her to find the secret to his curse, so honor dictates he must not act on his impulses. Although Nickís 800 years old, he still hasnít learned how to control his hormones. While Isabella's always gracious and knows the perfect thing to say, he, in turn, is clumsy and his mouth often gets in the way of his brain!

Keeping in character with the knight-princess code, adorable banter develops between the two characters who are physically attracted but aware they canít step over a certain line, a constant theme that the author uses effectively. But it is this code of honor and politeness that allows them to develop a fun to read relationship. The scene where Nick and Isabella escape down the castleís tunnels just to celebrate her birthday outside the castle wall, like any ordinary person, had me thinking of Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in ďRoman Holiday.Ē Part of me wanted them to make love, but instead, this old fashioned courtship was endearing. Itís refreshing to see the glass slipper on the other foot when the Princess finds a book of old fairy tales and recalls one of her favorites, The Cursed Knight, that tells Nickís tale to the tee, with the exception of a happy ending that he seeks.

Itís the constant twist on the fairy tale that made me laugh and enjoy this story so much! The author solely focused on their relationship the entire book and my only disappointment was when it ended. The Knightís Kiss is Ms. Burnhamís third book in the San Rimini Royalty series, and I think itís her best. Iíve already reread it because itís so much more fun the second time around. I hope Isabella and Nick are telling stories to their own children instead of Arturo and Paolo in the fourth book in the series about Isabellaís brother, Prince Fredericoís. I canít wait!

Reviewed in April 2003 by Suemarie.

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