Dark Prince harkens back to the days when dark Gothic mystery and romance were all the rage. I have read a few more modern novels which attempted to capture that dark, brooding atmosphere, but they usually come up short.
Today’s readers might not “get” this type of novel having missed out on the glory days of this genre. If the word Gothic is mentioned to modern readers the first image that comes to mind is usually something to do with vampires or a novel somehow dealing with a supernatural tone. That is not necessarily the case. This Gothic style novel falls more on the Jane Eyre side of Gothic romance, only quite a bit darker. It is my sincere hope that younger, and more modern readers will approach this type of historical romance with an open mind, without preconceived notions, and will appreciate it as much as I do.
Before I go into my take on the story, I feel I must point out this book does have some typographical errors. There are only a handful, but it does need to be corrected, in my opinion, before asking someone to pay for the book. That is my only complaint about the book and it has no bearing on the story itself, but I did reduce the star rating because of this issue.
Jane is a young lady, handicapped with a bad leg, in dire circumstances due to her father’s mishandling of funds. He owes a great deal of money and when the man he owes comes to collect, Jane winds up being the bargaining chip.
Aidan is a very handsome man, but he is dangerous, dark, sinister and quite handy with a knife. He now has Jane as his bond servant, the price that was paid him by Jane’s father. While Jane is expecting Aidan to behave toward her in a cruel manner, he surprises her by doing just the opposite.
Aidan is almost an anti-hero as he makes his living by being a smuggler or pirate. He is hard and angry, filled with bitterness against Jane’s father, but is very protective of Jane, always treating her fairly, and admitting she has taken him by surprise. He has lived his life for this moment, the moment when he will finally have his revenge on the man who wronged him many years ago. Jane was to be a tool he used as part of that revenge. Will Jane have an impact on his plans for vengeance?
Hardly the noble hero many are used to reading about in romance novels, Aidan is still a character I felt compassion for, especially after realizing his painful past. I saw he was dangerous but I also knew I could trust him with Jane. When love enters his life, his priorities shift, making it difficult to justify his plans for vengeance. In the meanwhile, Jane, who has never known a way of life other than the one with her father, begins to slowly realize the kind of man her father really is. There are quite a few twist of irony in this story. Aidan falling for the daughter of the man he most reviles and Jane being the one to lift him out of the dark turmoil that has plagued him for years. Also, Jane’s realization she is in love with her captor, the man who owns her legally, the man she should hate, but can’t. So, this may not be the type of love story many are accustomed to but, it is truly a wonderful story about being lifted from so much pain and grief, letting go of one’s anger and hatred, choosing love over revenge and coming away with a new life, one filled with joy and peace. While most of the novel is very dark in nature, the darkness gradually lifts as love gains more power and we watch Aidan and Jane stand in a bright clear dawn.
This novel did manage to capture the essence and nuance of the Gothic style mystery and romances of old, adding in a more sensual touch. Perhaps one day this genre will see a revival of sorts. So, if you are looking for something a little off the beaten path, say something totally different from the over saturation of regency tales we are overrun with currently, something that has a darker tone, a mystery, suspense, and an unconventional love story, this one is worth giving checking out.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.