Monday, February 25, 2008

Review: The Tiger Prince by Iris Johansen

I don’t think I’ve read her book before and if The Tiger Prince is to be a showcase of her works, it got me hooked big time.

One of the things that I dislike in romance novels is its supporting characters. I have a mountain of disgruntlement had the writers dare to write more extensively on the sub-plots of their love stories. As most of the time all they’ve managed to do was wasting pages and getting me extremely annoyed and bored for being distracted from the main story.

The Tiger Prince is an exception of exceptional proportion. Its two leading characters Ruel MacClaren and Jane Barnaby are ones of the strongest and most steadfast heroes and heroines that I’ve ever encountered. Its supporting characters happen to have the most remarkable and unforgettable quirks and repartees which give you no choice but to love them.

With his extra-ordinary good looks and vengeful nature Ruel MacClaren is perhaps the closest thing to what is often described as fallen angel. Despite his looks, not many people dare to make a mistake of underestimating him, as the result would be deadly.

When he sets his goals there’s no other way for him except going forward to accomplish them even if he has to trample whoever happens to be on his way. His passion for gold had him traveled around the globe to chase the trail of the golden lady and slaved over her.

Jane Barnaby has always had a strong determination. Even when she was eleven, she believed that if you want something bad enough, you could make it happen by the sheer power of will.

She got herself out of a destiny which she didn’t like, leaving everything behind, including a drug addict whore of a mother, bringing with her her beloved pet and best friend Li Sung toward a new beginning in destination unknown. Despite her strong and tough appearances - though physically small, she has a soft, kind and loyal heart.

Her soft heart put her in a difficult and dangerous position when she decided to protect John Kartauk – the self proclaimed greatest goldsmith in that era, against Abdar the crown prince of one of the richest Maharajas in India. It also brings her path to cross with Ruel MacClaren who came to India to materializing his biggest dream. Acquiring Cinnidar, an island of gold.

Despite Ian MacClaren’s warnings – his brother, the Scottish Earl who has big generous heart and great wisdom – Ruel set to use Jane in order to get help from the crown prince.
Having no personal experience with love and so used to putting people at arm length – including Ian himself, who crossed the ocean to take him home after their father’s death – Ruel doesn’t know that ever since the first moment he laid his eyes upon her, his heart was already captured. He mistakenly thought his feelings and emotions for her as lust.

When he saw the love and affection between Jane and Li Sung, and witnessing how close the two really were and experiencing the sudden pain in his heart, he didn’t recognize it as jealousy. When he hurt her and felt hurt instead, he still didn’t know that it was love that caused him to feel her pain as his own. Not even when he felt happy the first time he saw and heard her laugh, and want nothing more than to keep her that way.

I love the fact that Jane never shed a tear during her encounter with Ruel. But what I love most is the fact that we could see how deeply Ruel has fallen in love with Jane without realizing it himself. I love the fact how everybody else around Ruel like Ian and Kartauk can see that his dealing with Jane has changed him, showing what a good person he actually is.

Besides the main characters, I also love its supporting characters. I love Li Sung with his intelligence, tart remarks, pride and pragmatism. I also love Kartauk with his arrogance, perceptiveness, and self-serving nature. The most surprising is that I also love Ian MacClaren! I don’t normally like a good guy either in the novels or movies, since the most they can do is grovel. But I think I’ve fallen in love with Ian MacGregor. I love his good sense and great understanding of human nature. The part that I love most about him was when he asked Kartauk to come to his apartment, and then ask Margaret to leave them to have man to man chat. Gosh… It was so touching. It beautifully conveys how deep his love for Margaret is. It also shows what a great man he is.

I don’t know what else could I write about it without spoiling the reading for you. It’s simply magnificent. Now, I’ll consider Iris Johansen as one of my favourite authors and start looking for her other books. Hopefully they are as good as this one if not even better.

I don’t really like the ending though. I didn’t even realize it was the end. I was still turning the page to look for something more…

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