Author: Hester Browne
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Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication date: October 2nd 2012
Source: Borrowed from library
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If Amy Wilde’s new boyfriend, Leo, treats her like a queen, that’s because he’s secretly a prince himself: Leopold William Victor Wolfsburg of Nirona, the ninth most eligible royal bachelor in the world. Amy soon discovers that dating an heir to a throne has many charms—intimate alfresco dinners, glittering galas, and, for a girl who lives in jeans and wellies, a dazzling new wardrobe with tiaras to match. But there are also drawbacks: imagine the anxiety of meeting your boyfriend’s parents multiplied by a factor of “riding in a private jet,” “staying in a castle,” and “discussing the line of succession over lunch.” Not to mention the sudden press interest in your very un-royal family. When an unexpected turn of events pushes Leo closer to the throne, the Wolfsburgs decide to step up Amy’s transformation from down-to-earth gardener to perfectly polished princess-in-waiting. Amy would do anything for Leo, but is finding her Prince Charming worth the price of losing herself?
The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne stars Amy Wilde as an up-and-coming garden designer in London, hailing from small-town Yorkshire. On New Year’s Eve, her fun-loving best friend and roommate throws a party where she meets Leo, a fund manager that she instantly has an attraction to. What she doesn’t know is that he’s a prince, and Amy’s middle-class life is about to be turned upside-down.
I really enjoyed the romance of The Runaway Princess. Leo’s fame did seem a bit contrived considering that he came from such a small principality, but I liked how normal he was and how much he cared for garden-loving Amy. The romantic scenes were inventive, the romance believable, and Amy and her friends were delightful, fully realized characters. Amy’s struggle throughout the book is maintaining her own persona and trying to figure out whether she’s being “chippy” (having a chip on her shoulder) because of Leo’s wealth, or whether he really does have an issue with just throwing money at a problem to solve it. It’s something I haven’t seen explored a lot in royal fiction, and it’s definitely a strength of the book.
My main issue for liking but not “really liking” this book is that the author decided to use one of my pet peeves in creation of suspense: through a character knowing something, but not telling. To me, it’s an unimaginative tactic that forces suspense and makes me less likely to sympathize with a character, even though what the character is experiencing is heartbreaking (which it is, in this case).
And this one was a whopper that basically lasted the whole book: Amy’s sister did something big and horrible eight years ago that ruined the family, and throughout the book, you’re just frustrated that she knows about it, her parents know about it, her hometown knows about it, but she refuses to divulge that information to her best friends or her boyfriend. The author just dangles tantalizing pieces of the story over you, but the more she does it, the more I just wanted it to be over. It’s especially frustrating because the build-up is so overwhelming that when the payoff happens, it doesn’t feel like a payoff (as is often the case when this type of suspense is employed).
I also felt like the conclusion of the book also wrapped up a bit too quickly and easily – it was a solution that felt right, but I wish we had explored a bit more, especially since it involved feminist issues and lines of succession that I think are relevant in modern-day royalty.
Nevertheless, this was a page-turner that I really enjoyed. Recommended for anyone who loves royal stories.
Gardening: I have a house with a garden now, so I really enjoyed the details the author inserted about the plants and flowers Amy was growing, and more importantly, how it fit in with her relationship with Leo and his family.
The Final Word:
I’m a little obsessed with royalty stories, so when I heard about this one, I knew I had to get it right away – and I wasn’t disappointed. Very engaging, fun, and British, The Runaway Princess is romantic chick-lit that had me whipping through the pages.