This is a reissue of a 1993 novel by Betina Krahn, with a name change from The Princess And The Barbarian. I’m not sure why they bothered with the renaming, because much was made of Saxxe the hero’s ‘barbarian’ status - he was basically described exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan, down to the crossed leather straps over his naked chest, deerskin breeches and fur boots. Thera, on the other hand, spent the entire story dressed in white silk, a mark of her incredibly high status, as only the super-rich could afford servants enough to keep white clothing clean in medieval times.
Saxxe was actually a very nuanced character; born a lord’s younger son, he was basically sent off to earn his keep as a warrior for the king, and time and circumstance made him into a landless mercenary. Thera represents a seemingly-unreachable dream for him, a true lady, one deserving of his protection. Still, years of mercenary instincts aren’t easily put aside, and when he realises Thera needs his protection to get home, he offers a bargain he’s sure she’ll refuse - a night of passion in exchange for his escort!
Saxxe had an amusing sidekick in Gasquar, though I thought there were some missed opportunities for great one-liners - when Saxxe turns down a fortune in silver offered in exchange for the bargain Thera made with him and Gasquar said nothing I found myself blinking in surprise. Gasquar was getting nothing at all for his efforts, and Saxxe didn’t even check with him before turning down the money in favour of getting laid? Some friend.
Even though it was written more than 30 years ago, this is still a pretty good medieval romance. Ms. Krahn writes very descriptive, historically accurate prose which will really make you feel as though you’re back in medieval France. And yes… with a barbarian. For the time period, Saxxe was an exceptionally decent fellow. And he’s a lot nicer than many of the so-called ‘alpha’ males I’ve read in ‘bad boy’ contemporary romances. Bear that in mind before you get irritated with his bossy, know-it-all behaviour.
The only thing that bothered me was the hidden kingdom of ‘Mercia’ located somewhere in Brittany, with some frankly weird laws about inheritance. Mercia was a real place - in England, so I definitely got confused when they got there on horseback from Nantes in France. And the whole thing about being married after spending seven nights together is very pagan in a supposedly Christian kingdom.
Overall, I’d give this three stars. I’d rather read Betina Krahn’s current writing, and this looks like an attempt by her publisher to cash in on her older works.
Three Nights With The Princess is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.