Laurie Fitzroy is one of London’s privileged young. The son of wealthy baronet Sir William, he has everything – the house in Mayfair, the chauffeur-driven limo, a career mapped out for him in politics once he gets his degree.
If he ever does. Because Laurie is adrift. A brilliant untaught actor, all his talents lie in theatre, and Sir William won’t tolerate the idea of a stage career for his son. Laurie is home for Christmas and some serious extra tuition, having failed one exam too many. He’s bored, lonely and lost. Then, one freezing London midnight, he stops to talk to a homeless boy called Sasha, and a new world opens up to him. Sasha is a Romanian immigrant, hanging by a thread to his marginal existence on the streets. Despite their wildly different worlds, the two young men form a bond. Laurie offers Sasha shelter, and Sasha, in his turn, shows Laurie a path to adulthood and freedom.
But Sir William is brutal and dangerous, and Sasha’s mysterious Romanian past is casting lethal shadows. The battle for freedom seems a hopeless one. Friendship has turned to first love, though – too precious for Sasha and Laurie to let go. Eastern European gangsters and Sir William’s wrath are just a couple of the hazards they will have to face in their fight for a future together.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I found Midwinter Prince a mixed story. It’s a decent romance but loses the contemporary feel often enough that I kept thinking this was a historical, then references to pop culture would get thrown in and I’d be jolted once again. The writing is very typical of the author, complex layered language that is often too wordy and awkward to make for a smooth, easy read. It’s not bad if you enjoy slight tongue twisting to your prose and there is an attempt at intense, dramatic romance. Overall an ok to good story but not one I’d read again.
The story is set in London with young, wealthy but sheltered Laurie. He’s the only son of a Baron and still adrift in his life. He comes across homeless Sasha on the streets and their brief connection stays with Laurie. He can’t help himself from seeking out Sasha and the two connect again in secret. Yet Laurie’s controlling father, ineffective mother, and sweet sister are all parts of Laurie’s life and he can’t quite find his way out. When events start spiraling out of control, Laurie has no idea who to trust or what’s real.
The setting is modern London but never quite felt that way. There are enough modern references to keep reminding readers, such as pop culture shows, celebrities, and gadgets. Yet the Baron, near royalty feel and oppressive reminders of wealth and action make this feel very historical. Most of the characters behave, speak, and feel as they’re in a historical novel. There is the isolated sense of education, the huge gap between wealth and poverty. The actions of the various characters from the servants to the tutor and even Laurie’s parents never feel contemporary or modern. This juxtaposition in time frames kept jarring me from the story. Just when the feel is too historical, modern references are thrown in and would disturb me again. I wish the story had been steeped in one or the other time frames instead of straddling the two.
The plot is ok if you can suspend disbelief. Again since it’s not exactly the most modern telling, the actions and plot twists aren’t exactly believable. They’d be more at home in historical times so you really have to just be willing to go with the story. It has a romantic bent and a love conquers all theme so this will please romantics regardless. There is a nice tension and progression to the story as the two men come together but there’s a real question if they’ll work out. Given their personalities and secrets, it may not happen so the tension and intense connection is very nicely developed and kept interesting.
The characters are very well crafted. Laurie is a somewhat shallow, but the writing does a commendable job in explaining and showing why he lacks a lot of strength. His stereotypical parents are the catalysts for Laurie’s lack of maturity and strength but he slowly changes, matures, and really grows within the space of the story. This is an especially nice progression and change to see as Laurie grows from an understandably weak and spoiled boy to someone standing on his own merits. Sasha is much more mysterious as the lover that kind of darts in and out of Laurie’s life. He is the motivator for change but lacks the support Laurie desperately needs. There are reasons for this and that makes for some good intensity of emotion and story tension.
The writing is uneven. Since the setting is so back and forth, the writing tends to be as well. The prose is often awkward, very verbose and not the easiest to read. This tends to be the author’s style I think and thus won’t appeal to everyone. Fans are going to enjoy this story much more than those that find this writing style clumsy. Overall this is a decent romance but it couldn’t quite decide which it was – contemporary or historical – and that killed my engagement more than anything.