By MaryJanice Davidson.
I've read the first book in this series, but not the second. This is the third and last, which is a shame because this was a hoot.
The book starts out with the world's most amusingly polite letter from Nicole Krenski to King Alexander II of Alaska (this is an alternate universe where there's an Alaskan royal family that's incredibly kooky--the author flat out says the king is pretty much what her own dad is like). Nicole's mother has died recently, leaving in her will the stunning news that Nicole is the product of a three-week fling between her and the king before he got married. Mom's dying wish was that Nicole write the king and tell him whose kid she is. We find out later that Nicole wasn't too thrilled at that idea, but it's her mother's dying wish, and she didn't really expect the king to take notice of this or the included DNA results.
But we wouldn't have a plot if the Baranov family was inclined to ignore such a thing, and King Al would be delighted to have yet another kid. So after Nicole ignores some messages on her phone to come in for palace DNA testing, King Al and his head bodyguard/head of security Jeffrey Rodinov decide to show up at Nicole's door. Except Nicole is (like her relatives) a hardcore nature girl, wilderness guide, badass and she manages to sneak up on the intruders and take Jeffrey from behind. At first Nicole rejects the idea of dealing with all of this, much to King Al's shock because otherwise why would you write (see dead mother's dead wish bit). But...it's so apparent that Nicole takes after the king and the rest of her relatives in looks and personality that the family is pretty dang sure she's one of them. They just have to reassure Edmund, the prim majordomo, of all the legalities. Though when Nicole finds out that the inheritance goes to the oldest kid regardless of bastardy, she's .... well, nauseous, as you would be.
Anyway, the story of Nicole bonding with her unusual family is very sweet, with unexpected moments of feeling touched, in between the royal family dropping f-bombs with cheerful impunity. She also hits it off with Nicholas, the other presumed royal bastard in the family (he's the youngest child, came out blonde when everyone else is brunette, and his mother died going to meet a lover). Everyone kind of assumes this is the case, but the king and crown prince have not wanted to investigate this at all. Nicholas is sixteen and naturally snoopy, so in this book he takes advantage of the situation to find out for himself. And he deals with things pretty well, with Nicole's help. And Jeffrey and Nicole also hit it off--similar personalities and all that, but he has reservations about getting involved with her given that she's a princess and he's a bodyguard and he really wasn't planning on things coming out like that movie. It's not a whopping romance, but it's all right. I think more of the "romance" in this book is between Nicole and the rest of the Baranovs anyway. And it's very endearing. Nicole's still coping with the death of her mother and feeling abandoned by her only family while adjusting to new folks. King Al clearly still has fond memories of Nicole's mother and everyone is respectful of the situation, and they all do their best to help her adjust--even if that involves her sneaking out a lot.
For those of you wondering how the other royal couples from previous books are doing, Christina (of course) gets the most showcasing, especially when she and Nicole get into punching each other within a couple of minutes of acquaintance. Alexandria's husband is pretty much AWOL except for one brief scene and she's not saying much either. So there you go there. On the other hand, you do get Holly Bragon (rhymes with dragon), the king's oft-fired-but-she-never-truly-leaves biographer following the king around for dirt on the situation. She also has a whopping secret crush on the guy, hence why she's refusing to leave. But she's a forceful girl, so.... well, let's just say poor Edmund finds out more than he wants to know and breaks his composure.
I do think the editor/proofreader was a bit shoddy on the job in this book, though. Nicole briefly mentions a(nother?) father we don't see or hear about ever again (which seems kinda crucial given the plot of this book!), Holly mysteriously changes shoes from one page to another. And the timeline of the events going on seems to happen in one neverending week when frankly, after awhile a lot more time has to have passed than one week--for example, how long Nicole's been living in the palace and boinking Jeffrey and whatnot.
But despite a bit of proofreading errors, I had a lot of fun reading this book--I was reading it aloud to my visiting mother pretty much from the getgo and it was very fun to do. I need to keep an eye out for the middle book in the series--tried finding it all over two towns and three stores this weekend and still no luck. So, four stars.