THE PRINCE – Katharine Ashe
Edinburgh, Scotland – 1825
Elizabeth Shaw, daughter of a physician, is determined to follow in her father's footsteps. But women are not allowed to be doctors, or even attend medical school. With her father spending a year in London, Libby makes the decision to disguise herself as a man and enroll in the Edinburgh medical college. She adorns herself with glued on whiskers and men's attire, and, surprisingly is accepted by her fellow students. But she must find new quarters to live so as not to be discovered by her friend's family or servants.
Ziyaeddin is a well-known portrait artist known as the Turk. In reality, he is a prince in exile from his home country of Tabir which has been taken over in a coup. Biding his time, Ziyaeddin does what he loves, keeps to himself, and observes what is around him. And that includes Elizabeth Shaw, a young woman he met at a friend's estate, and was immediately attracted to. So, when he attends a dissection at the medical school and spies “those lips” hiding behind a scraggly beard, Ziyaeddin approaches the “young man” to give his advice on a more suitable beard.
Stunned that the Turk recognized her, Libby takes control of the situation. She talks him into letting her live in his house, knowing that his valet and cook/housekeeper are only part time. Why she trusts him surprises them both, but Ziyaeddin reluctantly agrees to the idea, with one stipulation—that she sit for a portrait of herself one day a week.
Ziyaeddin isn't sure how long he can tolerate the over-zealous, imaginative, and stunning Libby, but he soon discovers secrets about her that she would rather no one knew. He is, however, not about to reveal who he is, or what his own secrets are, particularly about his missing limb. Libby knows he has chronic pain, and she tries to exert her knowledge, to no avail. But she also is studying hard, and spending every waking moment at the Infirmary, determined to learn everything possible.
THE PRINCE is a Devil's Duke novel and is a unique and fascinating story. Based on historical facts about a woman posing as a man to become a doctor, as well as Middle East political issues, readers meet two interesting individuals who, in any other situation, would probably never meet. Supporting characters round out a well written tale set in one of my favorite cities.