Being an heiress in 1920s Austria with nothing but a broken-down castle to your name and nary a penny in your purse could be frustrating for anyone but the Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein. “Tessa,” however, is thrilled with her situation, as it allows her to concentrate on her love of the arts—and no one in the Viennese opera company need know that their delightful and charming under-wardrobe mistress is really a princess. But when the dashing self-made millionaire Guy Farne arrives at the opera in search of suitable entertainment for his high society guests, Tessa realizes that there may be more to life—and love—than just music. But while the attraction between them in undeniable, Guy’s insufferable snob of a fiancée only solidifies Tessa’s determination to keep her true identity a secret. Yet, after a chance meeting with the handsome Englishman, Tessa’s reserve begins to melt, and she starts to wonder if it’s not too late for a fairytale ending…
Immediately after reading this book I just sat back and thought "well that was nice, not spectacular and sometimes I lost interest, but nice". Then a little while later something dawned on me (I can guarantee it was not the Breaking Dawn trailer). I realized that while there were some parts that didn't demand my attention, there was something hidden in the pages of Ms. Ibbotson's book.
There are no vampires, faeries, or paranormal anything. There's no gore, killing, or violence that comes to mind. And much to my surprise there was no earth shaking, love at first sight, we're destined for each (although technically they are) type love. That is what's hidden in this book. A kind of real love. Tessa and Guy come to love each other in the same way normal people fall in love. They discovered their common love of the arts (especially music) and shared so many inside references to opera and music that I just shook my head as if I knew what they were talking about. They went out together (though they weren't really dates since dates shouldn't involve Guy rescuing Tessa). They shared personal experiences and things close to their hearts with one another. The more I thought about Tessa and Guy's relationship, the more I saw how similar it was to real life. That's not to say it didn't have a fictional flair. I mean Guy is a ridiculously wealth, smart, good looking guy and Tessa happens to be a princess adored by an entire countryside. I also doubt that the exact twists and turns in their path to one another happen in real life.
The romance was nice, but the book was kind of slow to me. I felt it dragged a bit, especially because I felt the conflict was just dragged on unnecessarily. I can;t go into details without spoiling the book, so I'll leave it at that. The language was sometimes a little old fashioned, but that's just style. Overall the romance kept me interested even if parts of the book seat funny with me.
Overall, this book rated: