Nine Princesses: Tales of Love and Romance by Sheela Word brought back to life a time long gone. In each story, a princess has an impediment blocking her path to happiness. How each one overcomes their obstacle makes for some entertaining reading.
Normally I like to give a brief synopsis of a novel before giving my thoughts. However, since this collection contains nine different stories, I find that going right to my commentary makes it easier. One of the enjoyable aspects about reading is visiting new worlds, or in this case, a different time period. These stories transported me back to a time when chivalry, royal lines, and duty mattered. It’s not a world I would have liked to live in, but it’s one that’s exciting to visit. Another aspect about reading that I enjoy is character development. I want writers to create lovable characters that I can’t help but cheer on, even if they are flawed. Sometimes the more flawed they are, but well-meaning, the more I like them. I also want despicable rogues to loathe and hope that they fall flat on their face.
What disappointed me about the collection was the subject of love. I was expecting more passion, intrigue, miscues, quarrels, and then a realization that the lovers could not live without the other. Okay, maybe I expected too much. For me, though, the love took a backseat to the stories. The time period and the individual characters of the princesses propelled the stories. Which is fine, except the title of the collection is: Nine Princesses: Tales of Love and Romance. I hoped for more love and romance. Sometimes the love seemed more like an afterthought to the story. On a couple of occasions I didn’t realize until the very end that someone was getting ready to proclaim their love. It’s likely that I missed some of the subtext. It’s also likely that there wasn’t enough buildup. I’m not advocating hitting the reader over the head, but personally I needed more reassurance that the two people were indeed lovers.
However, if I took away this expectation, I enjoyed the stories. Similar themes run through all of them: just rule, female roles in society, power struggles, and human relationships. The strongest aspect of the stories is that all of the princesses are not ordinary princesses. They are strong, intelligent, and brave. Want to know what they think. Don’t worry, they’ll tell you, especially if they think someone is in the wrong.
The short stories are a breeze to read and are a refreshing break. Some may not like the Shakespearean dialect. I found it charming. If you like whimsical with a dash of obstinacy, these may tickle your fancy. Since I expected more love in them I give the collection 3.5 stars. If you can go into the collection without the expectation of romance I think you would rate the stories higher. And I would be curious to find out if Sheela Word has a novel inside her. Nothing wrong with short stories, but she has a creative mind and can spin charming yarns. I would love to see her tackle the challenge.