by Susan King

ISBN: 0-451-20883-8
Reviewer Graphic Button Signet Books
Mass Market Paperback

Susan King has done it again with another memorable Highland tale! Waking the Princess is a story with love, honor and another enduring legend.

There is a Scottish Highland legend passed down from the days of King Arthur, that tells the tragic love story of a Druid prince that falls in love at first sight with the daughter of a king. Despite the wishes of her father to marry another, she refuses and is imprisoned for her disobedience. But they secretly meet and she gives birth to his son. When her father finally releases her, she falls under a sleeping spell cast by the princesí enemy, never to awaken again. Generation after generation of lairds of Dundrennan have never married for love, and those that had, were cursed to watch their beloved die as had the first prince, until the princess is awakened.

Aedan McBride knows of the legend and the curse. His father made a living writing passionate epic poetry beloved by many about the tales of his family, but since his death, the curse lays squarely on Aedanís shoulders as the new laird of Dundrennan. Aedan is a practical man, an engineer who is building a parliamentary highway over the slope of Cairn Drishan for the improvement of Scotland and to allow the Queen of England to visit his estate. But he was still a man, one that has a secret obsession with a painting of a beautiful wanton woman, The Enchanted Briar. His father had purchased it because it depicted Drundrennanís famous legend of the princess in the briar. And now the woman that has haunted Aedanís dreams is now here in the flesh, and he is lost.

Christina Blackburn, a representative of the National museum, has been summoned to Dundrennan to examine some jagged rocks unearthed by the Aedanís excavation with black powder explosives. The shifted rocks reveal an ancient fortress, and she secretly hopes to find proof of her ailing uncles' theory that the legend of Arthursí travel through Scotland was true. I love that she uses the methods from the new study of archeology. Itís quite funny when Aedan, in a hurry to finish the road, finds her picking at stones with a tiny her hatpin and a toothbrush, when he has a precursor of a bulldozer ready to plow through the pile of rock. She even talks him into using his crew to help her, turning them into archeologist. How cute is this!

I love the fact that all through the story the two characters fight their burgeoning attraction for each other to protect not their self but the other. I also liked the character of John, Christinaís brother, who is an artist and starts work on a mural depicting the story of the princess and the prince, and have Christina and Aedan pose for it! The theme of, waking the princess was played over and over in this book to my delight in ways just like this.

Although this is the second in the Highland series for Ms. King, it stands alone very nicely. Meg and Dougal, whose lighthouse Aedan helped build in Taming the Heiress, are frequent visitors for tea, along with other character including Thistle, a delightful monkey that lends great comic relief. I commend the author for not retelling their story. I hate when authors play catch up. If you want to know their story, please do yourself a favor and read, Taming the Heiress!

I just loved this sequel. If you love a bit of legend and fairy tale with your romance, and a great setting like the Highlands with their strong, honorable heroes and adorable heroines, then youíll just love reading Waking the Princess. And, be on the lookout for the last in the trilogy, Kissing the Countess, due soon. I canít wait!

Reviewed in August 2003 by Suemarie.

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