Lovers of romantic intrigue among the royals be warned: This flighty tale of one simple-minded child of privileged descent--by the daughter of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, sister of Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg, and author of an equally frivolous collection of anecdotes, Taxi (1986)--is highly unlikely to spur fantasies of life in a more gracious universe. Maria Moses--18, attractive, the daughter of dispossessed (Yugoslavian) royalty on her mother's side and East Hampton wealth on her father's--might seem in a position to take New York by storm as she moves to that city from London, where she was raised. Sadly, though, she has only a small allowance from her father and finds that with no ability to type, spell, or even converse intelligently it's hard to pay her rent. But Maria's appalling ignorance is hardly her own fault: Her beautiful mother's lifelong obsession with romantic escapades, New Age nonsense, and alien visitations left little room for the proper care of her daughter. When little Maria dared grieve over the death of her best friend, she was thrown into a home for emotionally ill children. Tortured at the home by a vicious fellow student, left uneducated and vaguely traumatized, Maria, who's actually forced to squat in the Park Avenue guest rooms of increasingly resentful wealthy friends, is an easy target for the first con man who happens along. He appears in the form of her parents' archenemy--the married, middle-aged Tino Brooks, who deftly seduces Maria, then manipulates her into helping him transfer a valuable Scottish castle of her mother's over to him. Maria's actions destroy not only her mother's only chance at financial solvency, but--Maria realizes belatedly--her own as well. Oxenberg's heroine is so thick-headed, and her social set so unpleasant, that even the author's lightly ironic tone can't salvage this debut. Readers will drift off early, grateful for lives lived far from the haunts of the rich and famous.