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Princess is the second novel by British author, Alison Fraser. As a favour to his mother, Nancy, author Adam Carmichael goes to the reading of his Aunt Andrea’s will in Yorkshire. He’s surprised to find she has left her stately home to him, on the condition that he look after her step-daughter, Serena Templeton, a young woman of whose existence he was completely unaware. The solicitor’s comments and her almost catatonic behaviour have Adam wondering about Serena’s mental state, but when he speaks to her alone, it’s apparent she’s intelligent and wilful. Fast forward two years. Adam has been living a debauched life in Hollywood while his mother has overseen Serena’s education and medical treatment. When he returns, sparks fly between him and Serena.
Oh dear! This is rather heavy going. Until almost the last page, the interactions between Adam and Serena are heated, often spiteful and insulting. Their inner monologues are angst-ridden and the reader is tempted to give them both a good shake and tell them to actually talk to each other without assuming innuendo and malicious intent. The plot is OK, but the execution is tedious and the characters are unrealistically intense. Fraser’s later novels are better: give this one a miss.