"A very good story and highly recommended!"
Reviewed by Evie Harris
Posted May 17, 2021
Romance Contemporary | Romance Suspense
Anna Brown, a trauma surgeon, had traveled to the European country of Lerasia with a mission. Her now-deceased grandmother had told her stories about her part in the Resistance as well as other secrets she had kept until just before her death. But that mission would have to wait. Before Anna could begin her research about her grandmother she almost became the victim of an explosion at a train station. It was there that she met Zar who was also known as Prince Zarius Valentin. Together they tried to help and save people. The Royal family of Lerasia was under attack from terrorists and innocent people became victims. Could Anna and Zar find the terrorists and deal with the attraction developing between them?
The author has created two charming protagonists who will appeal to readers. While Anna was an accomplished surgeon, she was so much more. Kindness and compassion were second nature to her. Still, she had vulnerabilities that could stand as obstacles to a happy life. Zar, charming and hot, was a confidant man who was loyal to his family and his country. He was determined to protect both. Very quickly, Anna and Zar realize that neither is what the other expected. The author skillfully weaves mystery and action scenes into this well-plotted love story.
I found TRAPPED WITH THE UNDERCOVER PRINCE to be a well-told story and an enjoyable read. Highly recommended.
Trauma Surgeon, Dr. Anna Brown is on a personal mission to decode her family’s past after her dying grandmother told her a story of rescue, resistance, and a royal family secret. A story her grandmother insisted was true.
Anna’s journey to the tiny European monarchy of Lerasia will be more dangerous than she could have ever predicted when she accidentally uncovers a plot to kill a prince. Protecting him might lead to a crown on her head for the rest of her life.
She could not be late for her train. Dr. Anna Brown checked her watch for the fifth time in five minutes, swore under her breath, and lengthened her stride. If she was late, she’d lose her hotel reservation and her appointment with the genealogy librarian at the main library in Cime, the capital of the tiny European monarchy of Lerasia.
Her grandmother had left her with a mystery to solve and a treasure hunt to accomplish, and Anna didn’t plan on letting her down.
Nestled in the Northern Alps between Switzerland and Germany, entering the country was easiest to do by train. She’d looked into flights, but she wanted to see Europe, not bounce through it.
The train station in Lyon, France, was bigger than she expected, but if she hurried, she could still make it to the correct platform. Luckily, she traveled light, with just one backpack, and wore hiking boots that were comfortable enough to run in should she need to. Weighing her options, she checked the time again, then broke out in a trot.
She approached a cluster of five men dressed in nearly identical dark suits. Fit, handsome, and with expensive haircuts, they were standing in a loose circle talking. Their stiff postures reflected some serious topic.
Had they broken out of a modeling agency office? She smiled then tried to hide it, but one of them was facing in her direction. His gaze hit hers…and stayed.
Heat swept across her face as his eyes—the color of steel blue—studied her. He gave her a half-smile.
A slow burn ignited her blood and sent champagne bubbles through her belly.
Holy cow, he was hot.
One of the other men turned to see what the hot dude was looking at and caught sight of her. He frowned.
She let her gaze slide away and caught the movement of the hot dude’s shoulders. His suit jacket tightened briefly to reveal a lump under his left arm.
Was that…a shoulder holster? She reconsidered the suits and the men wearing them. Maybe they were the French version of secret service agents?
When she glanced at the group again, no one was looking at her. Instead, they were looking at something on the tablet one of them held.
Just as well. she didn’t have time to flirt, no matter how cute the officer was.
Anna hurried a little faster toward the platform.
Five steps later, an invisible heavy force picked her up then smacked her to the highly polished granite floor of the train station. For a long moment, the world went silent and dark.
She blinked and found herself on her side, ears ringing, nose full of acrid smoke, and the large space oddly still of movement.
Alarm bells clanged, and she shook off the shock, got one hand underneath herself, and levered up to see what was going on. Flames flickered where the train she’d been moving toward had been. Flames, twisted metal, and a smothering blanket of smoke.
An explosion? The ends of her fingers, toes, and nose went cold then numb. Her stomach tumbled around inside her belly, and she had to breathe through her mouth to prevent herself from throwing up. That train had to be full of people. She’d have been on it if the explosion had happened only five minutes later.
The number of injured would be high, and the dead…
She took in another breath and let it out slowly, then kicked her brain into gear and her stomach into submission. First things first, the scene needed to be assessed before she could decide how best she could help.
Anna got to her feet, settled her pack on her back, and walked with purpose toward the train. The smoke became dense in a hurry, and she dug out a spare surgical mask and a pair of latex gloves from one of the pockets in her pack and put them on. She never went anywhere without a couple of masks, several pairs of gloves, and some first-aid supplies in her purse, bag, or pack. Accidents and injuries usually happened when one was least prepared for them, so she was always prepared.
Smoke flowed along the floor like an incoming tide, rising rapidly as she approached the train, obscuring everything. Her foot slipped sideways on something that rolled awkwardly underneath her, but she managed to catch herself before twisting her ankle. After waving away some of the smoke, she realized she’d stepped on a long, sharp piece of metal glinting with something wet.
Where there was blood, there had to be a body.
A hand grabbed her arm.
She twisted out of the hard grasp and turned to find herself face to face with the hot dude.
“Are you injured?” he asked, his basso voice loud enough to be heard over the clang of the fire alarm.
“No,” she shouted, then pointed at the bloody debris on the floor. “But someone is.”
He glanced down, saw the bloody wreckage, then yelled over his shoulder at someone else in French.
“Please, move away from the scene, Miss,” he ordered and gestured in the direction she’d come from.
She held up her gloved hands. “I’m a trauma surgeon. Let me help.”
His eyebrows went up, but only for a moment, then he nodded and let her go to shout something at another member of his group.
Anna focused on the blood, waving her hands to clear the roiling, hot curtain of smoke obscuring the floor, but found nothing more than more blood.
Wait… It was smeared in a straight line, pointing in one direction. She followed it, noting absently that her new friend stuck with her despite carrying on multiple conversations with other people.
After about six feet, she found the source of the blood, but the man, dressed in business casual, was dead. His eyes were open and fixed in place, and he had a hole the size of her fist in his chest. The piece of metal she’d stepped on must have been thrown by the explosion like a missile, and it had impaled him. He’d have died almost instantly.
Her companion swore in French.
A woman’s screams caught their attention, and they hurried toward the sound. A man ran past her and disappeared into the smoke. Two others followed him. They all wore uniforms and safety vests. Not police. Train station employees? Three wasn’t near enough.
She leaned closer to the man next to her and shouted, “Firemen and paramedics?”
She glanced behind her and found a small crowd of people approached the train, all in uniforms of varying types. Good.
Anna turned her attention back to the train and strode through the veil of smoke.
A group of four people surged toward her, bunched together in a bloodstained knot—holding each other up. She let them pass. If they were on their feet, others could triage them. She was looking for those whose injuries were much, much worse.
Heat, a billowing, invisible bubble, urged her and her companion away from the edge of the platform just before a sheet of flames shot haphazardly up from below.
She hadn’t realized how loud the fire was until she passed it and was assaulted by screams and shouts from multiple sources.
A man ran up to them, pleading in French for help.
Her new friend translated, saying, “His wife is pregnant, injured, and trapped.”
“Where?” she asked.
Her companion fired off a couple of questions, and the terrified man turned, pointed, and hurried back to the train.
“I’m Anna,” she said to the man next to her. “What’s your name?”
“Are you a policeman, Zar?”
“Something like that,” he replied. “You’re American?”
“Yes, from Boston. Will you be able to call for help to get this lady to a hospital?”
“Yes. My team is already in contact with medical personnel.”
“Help is on the way.”
“That’s good,” she said as they went through a door dented enough that it would never close again. They veered to the right. “Because we’re going to need it.”
Other people stumbled past them in a rush to get out, their cries mixing with the alarm clang to create a cacophony of unintelligible babble and noise. Their guide suddenly turned left and disappeared through a partially open narrow door. She barely managed to slide through sideways and noted problem number one. There was no way a pregnant woman could get through.
The man bent over a woman who was crying and straining to move a metal bar, probably part of the train station structure, that lay across her legs.
Anna approached and took in the situation from several angles, while Zar spoke to the woman in a calming tone nearly every cop she’d ever met used with people who were in a panic. She tried to see where the bar had come from and if there was any obvious way to lift it off her. It looked like it had been bent by something and shoved from the outside through the outer skin of the train and into the interior.
She knelt next to the woman and asked in broken French where the pain was.
The response was too fast to understand the words, but Zar translated for her. “Her right leg hurts, and there’s pain in her lower back and abdomen. She says she’s thirty-six weeks pregnant.”
Anna put her hands on the woman’s abdomen, feeling for the position of the baby, and felt the child kick. She smiled at the woman and said good in French. A closer look at the woman’s leg wiped the smile off Anna’s face. It was twisted oddly, her foot pointing in a much different direction than it should have been.
Using her hands to mime a scale, she made a question of the word pain in French.
The woman responded with her hands in a medium position.
A cold spear shot through Anna’s stomach. A leg that dislocated should hurt worse. The lack of pain could be an indicator of several things, none of them good.
She tried to see the woman’s leg from a different angle, but it didn’t add to what she already knew. “Zar,” she said to him. “We’re going to need a few things in order to get this lady out of her safely.”
“Her leg is…” He cut himself off.
“Yes. She’s not experiencing enough pain, which indicates other serious injuries. We’re going to need to get her out of here as soon as possible, and she will likely need advanced medical care. We’ll need a medical team waiting to remove her as soon as she’s free. Getting her out is another problem.” She looked at the metal bar. “I don’t suppose you know any structural engineers?”
The woman groaned, her hands around her belly, and Anna realized there was fluid on the floor. She knelt and put her hands on the woman’s abdomen and felt the tightening of a contraction.
“Her water just broke,” she called over her shoulder. “We need all the help you can find right now.”
Zar was already yelling at someone on his phone.
Prince Zarius Valentin of Lerasia wasn’t in the mood for excuses. Not after the bomb he and his team had been looking for had exploded, destroying a train full of people.
Their intelligence had arrived too late. Again.
“We need advanced medical help for a large number of accident victims, including ambulances, fire suppression teams, and volunteers to move fallen debris,” Zar said to the operator at the local SAMU—Service d'Aide Médicale Urgente (Urgent Medical Aid Service). “I’m assisting a woman who is pregnant, trapped by debris, and has just gone into labor.”
The woman on the other end of the call went silent, but he could hear the clicking of someone typing fast on a keyboard.
“Assistance is on the way,” she said, her tone no different than when she’d answered his call. “Highest priority. Do you need verbal medical advice to help the accident victim?”
“No, a doctor who happened to be on the scene is caring for her.” A doctor like none he’d ever met before. This one had auburn hair pulled back in a messy bun on the top of her head, leaving only a few long, curling strands to hint at the riot it would become if she let it fall loose. She wore jeans, a plain blue T-shirt, and hiking boots and had the kind of curves a man wanted to explore slowly and with great attention to detail.
It was her smile that caught his attention first. He’d looked up from the briefing his second in command was making as she’d entered his peripheral vision at a trot. Her gaze had been direct and filled with amusement. Once their eyes connected, she’d blushed and looked away.
She looked so damned fresh and innocent. Something he hadn’t seen outside of small children, yet there were no hidden emotions on her face. None of the avarice, calculation, or lust he often saw on the faces of women who knew who he was.
He ended the call as two of his men slid through the crumpled doorway.
“Sir,” Jean Paul Travers, his chief of security, said. His gaze went to Anna as she knelt beside the trapped woman, and he frowned.
Anna pulled a stethoscope out of a side pocket of her pack and used it to listen to the pregnant woman’s heart.
She put up a hand, the gesture certain and confident, and Zar stopped talking. No naivete now. She’d just turned into a field marshal directing her troops.
That was almost as attractive as her riotous hair.
She moved the stethoscope around the woman’s abdomen, and after a couple of adjustments, paused to listen.
Ten seconds later, she stood, smiled at the woman and her husband, then said to Zar, “Our mother’s heart rate is too fast, and the baby’s is too slow. I believe she may have some kind of injury to her hip or pelvis, which may explain why she isn’t in more pain. She’s going to need medical attention to both issues at the same time.”
“We can try to lift the bar up,” he said. “You and her husband can slide her out.”
“Only if there’s a medical team waiting to take her immediately to a hospital afterward. Once we remove the bar, the pressure it’s exerting on her internal injuries will be gone.”
“So, if there is bleeding, it could get worse?”
“Jean Paul, can you make sure a medical team comes here as soon as they arrive?” Zar asked him. Then saw the questioning expression on his face and continued, “This is Dr. Anna. She’s a trauma surgeon from the United States.”
Jean Paul nodded at him and Anna, then pulled out his phone.
“Marc.” Zar waved at the other man who’d come in with Jean Paul. “Take a look at this bar, see how it’s being held down.”
“Yes, sir,” Marc said, then moved to examine the offending piece of debris.
“Thank you,” Anna said softly. She met his gaze, and he was surprised to find worry and fear starkly written on her face. Most physicians had a better poker face than this woman did. “If we don’t get help soon, she’s…” Anna left the sentence hanging.
Jean Paul ended his call and said, “Help is here. I’ll bring them.” He darted out of the room.
Anna flashed a relieved smile at Zar and knelt to put her hand on the woman’s shoulder.
“Sir,” Marc called. He was looking at the place where the metal bar had pierced the interior wall of the train. “I think we’ll need a pry bar to loosen this section. After that, we should be able to move it.”
“Excellent.” Behind him, three men slid through the narrow opening. Two wore medical uniforms, the third was a police officer.
The medics went directly to the injured woman, and he heard Anna giving them a short, informative summary of what she knew.
The officer stared at Zar hard for a long moment before asking in a low tone, “Your Highness, were you on the train?”
Zar had known Officer Gerard Dupois for a dozen or more years. He’d led the police force in Lyon for five of them, and he’d made his dislike of Zar’s role in Lerasia’s law enforcement community very clear.
“I was not on board yet when the explosion happened,” Zar said in no louder a voice than Dupois.
“Not on board yet?” Dupois asked. “But you had tickets to this train?”
“Yes, myself and my team.”
“Excuse me, gentlemen,” Anna said, rising from her crouch and slinging her backpack on her back. “That doorway needs to be wide enough for the paramedics to carry my patient out on a stretcher.”
Dupois looked at Anna with her messy hair and casual clothing and opened his mouth, but Zar spoke before he could.
“Captain Dupois, this is Dr. Anna. She’s a vacationing trauma surgeon from the United States. She’s been very helpful in this terrible situation.”
Dupois snapped his mouth shut before opening it carefully again. “Thank you for your assistance, Doctor.”
But Anna wasn’t paying him any attention at all. She was studying the crumpled door.
“How are we going to make that wider?” Zar asked Dupois.
“I have no idea.”
“A hydraulic jack,” Anna said with confidence.
“A what?” Zar asked.
“You put it under your car to lift it when you change the oil or tires,” she explained. “Firemen use it to pry open crushed cars in bad accidents to get at the victims inside. Do your firemen have them?”
Dupois pulled a radio out of his jacket pocket and barked the question in French. The response was positive. He ordered the tool, along with whatever else the firemen might need to get a person out of a crushed car. The train was just as crushed, if not more so.
The firemen arrived only a minute later and immediately began using the hydraulic device to open the doorway. Another couple of them brought long steel pry bars that they and Marc used to fish around inside the wall of the train.
Anna crouched in front of the pregnant woman, her husband next to her with his arm around her, while they waited for her to be freed.
A loud snap and crunch was the only warning they had before the door was suddenly shoved open all the way. There was a general cry of success, only to be cut off when the men at the door realized their job was only halfway done.
The victim they were trying to rescue was still pinned in place.
Anna directed the stretcher to be laid on the floor next to her patient while the firemen with the jack went to help Marc and his small team of rescuers.
“Anna, what will you need when we get her outside?” Zar asked.
“Immediate transport to the nearest hospital with advanced services. I won’t know what I’m dealing with until we get her out, but her contractions are only a couple of minutes apart.” Worry creased her brow and tightened the corners of her lips. “We’re going to need two teams. One to focus on the delivery and one to focus on her injuries.”
“I’ll see if I can get that organized.”
He asked the two paramedics which hospital they were going to take the injured woman to then called the hospital administrator of one of the most prestigious hospitals in the city. After giving a brief summary of the situation, the administrator put him in contact with the chief of staff. When Zar mentioned he had a doctor on scene, the chief of staff asked for her name.
“Dr. Anna, what’s your last name?”
Zar repeated that for the chief and also mentioned she was a trauma surgeon from America.
“From Boston?” the chief asked.
“Yes,” Zar replied, surprised.
“My brother was injured in the Boston Marathon bombing,” the chief said, approval brightening his tone. “Dr. Anna Brown is the only reason he didn’t lose his leg.” He paused. “All will be in readiness for the patient’s arrival.”
His pretty doctor had an international reputation.
“Dr. Brown,” Zar said. “The hospital is preparing to receive her.”
“Excellent, but please, I prefer Dr. Anna.” She looked around. “Zar, can you get in behind her on the other side to support her?”
He didn’t answer aloud, just moved to squeeze into a spot next to the injured woman on the opposite side from her husband.
The paramedics, firemen, and Marc looked ready to attempt to move the metal bar holding the injured woman in place.
“Everyone ready?” Anna asked.
Zar asked the same question in French and got nods all around.
“Go!” Anna shouted.
No translation was needed.
Marc and the firemen used their tools to shift the restricting bar, which allowed the last two firemen to lift it several feet up.
The woman began screaming.
The paramedics, with support from himself and the woman’s husband, moved her away and set her down on the stretcher.
She passed out.
Anna and the paramedics were all over her, reassessing.
“Internal bleeding,” Anna reported to no one in particular. “Her blood pressure is going down. We need to move, move, move.”
No translation was needed this time, either.
The paramedics picked up the ends of the stretcher while Anna ran next to them with her hand on the woman’s wrist, monitoring her pulse.
Dupois looked at Zar, then angled his head toward the door. “You might want to go with her, smooth the way.”
Zar wanted to do just that, but he also needed to help the people on this train and investigate the incident.
“I will ensure that you’re kept up to date on the investigation,” Dupois promised.
“Sir,” Marc said. “The scene isn’t secure.”
The younger man’s face was devoid of color, and he had blood smeared across one sleeve of his suit jacket. His wide eyes told Zar all of this had shocked him. Badly.
It was the reaction every terrorist hoped for, and Marc wouldn’t be the only one in shock. Damn it, the attention on this event would be international, so he needed to stay out of sight of the press and any hostiles who might be watching.
“Let’s assist the doctor,” he said and led the way out of the train car. They were able to catch up to Dr. Anna just as she reached the ambulance.
“We’ll meet you at the hospital,” Zar said.
“I’d like to go into the operating room with her,” Anna said.
“I’ll check into it on the way.” Given the reaction of the hospital’s chief of staff to her participation thus far, he didn’t think it would be a problem.
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