Book Review: The Runaway Princess

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Image: Goodreads

Rating: 3 out of 5

When the world seems to be falling apart, it’s natural to attempt to run away from it all. For me, my escape takes the form of light-hearted chick-lit about outlandish situations and love that’s too good to be true.

Hester Browne’s The Runaway Princess doesn’t compare to her other novels, like The Little Lady Agency series and Honeymoon Hotel, but it’s a nice break from reality.

It tells the story of Amy Wilde, a gardener from a small town just trying to expand her business. When she meets Leo, a handsome man at a party who’s interested in her work, she considers him merely as a potential client.

She never imagined that he’d be Leopold Wolfsburg, prince of the fictional kingdom of Nirona and one of Europe’s most eligible royals. When their professional relationship turns romantic, she is quickly thrust into the spotlight.

Faced with paparazzi invading her privacy and strangers insulting her online, she becomes overwhelmed by the consequences of overnight fame. As their whirlwind romance propels her closer to the chapel, she must decide whether love is worth sacrificing her and her family’s well-being.

The premise of this novel was interesting, and I enjoyed the dynamics between Amy and Leo’s swarmy brother and conniving sister. For the most part, the secondary characters were well-developed and showed dimensionality, which is often missing from love stories.

But most importantly, I appreciated Amy’s strong sense of self and her dedication to her family, roommate and job regardless of her potential princess status. She makes sure to speak up when her boyfriend tries fixing problems by throwing money around and refuses to live as a kept woman. Amy is certainly not one to be swept off her feet, and her groundedness is downright refreshing.

However, at over 400 pages, The Runaway Princess is too long for its genre, and it drags in places. I was also annoyed that it attempted to heighten drama by unnecessarily withholding information: the reason behind the disappearance of Amy’s troubled sister, for example, wasn’t nearly shocking enough to warrant such mystery.

Although this wasn’t Browne’s best work, it succeeded in briefly distracting me from the clusterfuck of this new presidency. Let’s just say that it’s horrifying when it feels like 1984, not 2017. Make dystopias fiction again!

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Book Review: Honeymoon Hotel

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Image via Goodreads

Rating: 4 out of 5

After being bombarded with never-ending blockbuster sequels and remakes, it’s no wonder that I’m getting more and more frustrated with Hollywood’s complete lack of originality. For the most part, the film industry cares jack-shit about women, which is why I would rather escape the bro-movie madness into some good chick-lit.

If entertainment is going to be formulaic, I might as well go with the formula I prefer: ambitious girl meets manic pixie dream boy and falls in love after a rousing bout of sexual tension.

In Honeymoon Hotel by Hester Browne, Rosie is the events manager at the uber-posh Bonneville Hotel in London. After working her ass off for years, she’s finally so close to a major promotion that she can taste it. That is, until her boss’ son Joe comes in to help run her department, and the nepotistic red flags start popping up to threaten her career goal.

I became a fan of Hester Browne’s after reading The Little Lady Agency series. On a whim, I missed her writing, so I purchased this book along with The Runaway Princess. She excels at creating strong female protagonists who have great jobs and friendships and don’t exist just for the men in their lives.

I enjoyed that Rosie and Joe change each other for the better. Rosie learns to ease up on planning weddings down to the nitty-gritty details and remember that love, not centerpieces, should be the focal point of getting married. On the flip side, Joe learns to respect the hard work it takes to plan an event and that running away from your problems never solves them.

Honeymoon Hotel is a great reminder that you can’t get what you want, whether it’s true love or a dream career, if you remain stuck in dead-end relationships and jobs. It’s lighthearted fun and would make a great movie one day—if romances ever manage to break through the monotony of action flicks and make it to the silver screen again.

‘Tis the Season! My 3 Favorite Books About Weddings

I just got back from a bridal shower of a friend who’s practically family. I’m one of her bridesmaids, and it was great to spend such a special day with her…which, of course, got me thinking about literary weddings. I decided to make a list of my three favorite books which deal with the chaos, stress, but also fun of planning a wedding:

Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot (2009). This finale of the Queen of Babble trilogy follows Lizzie Nichols as she makes the difficult decision between Luke, the man to whom she’s engaged, or Chaz, Luke’s best friend, with whom she’s also in love. The twist here is that Lizzie happens to work in wedding gown restoration, so how does a woman who’s already knee deep in bridal manage to get to the altar? If you’ve read the series up until now, you’ll know who Lizzie ultimately chooses, but this book’s so entertaining that you won’t care. Another gem by Cabot!

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The Little Lady Agency and the Prince by Hester Browne (2008). Another end to another great trilogy, this novel tells the tale of Melissa Romney-Jones, a curvy bombshell who dons a blonde wig and calls herself “Honey”–all for the sake of turning fixer-upper men into marriage material. Her current project is prince Nicolas von Helsing-Alexandros, who can’t seem to blind his wandering eye. And what happens when her fiance Jonathan Riley starts acting controlling? Can they work it out, or will she fall for her best friend Nelson? Clearly, there’s no shortage of love triangles in chick-lit!

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella (2012). This book published on Valentine’s Day of this year has got to be one of the cutest stories I’ve ever read. Poppy Wyatt has just lost her engagement ring, an antique that’s been in her fiance Magnus’ family for three generations. So when she comes along a lost cell phone, what better thing to do than to enlist the phone owner’s employer to help find the ring? But when that boss turns out to be a sexy businessman named Sam Roxton, Poppy’s happily ever after just got way more complicated. The perfect book for the 21st-century reader, full of text talk, emails, and footnotes! Check out my full review here!

So there you have it! Three adorable stories if you can’t get enough of dresses, rings, cakes, and true love! I’m currently reading Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon, about a woman decades into her marriage, but it’s always nice to remind yourself of the newlywed stage! And for any of my readers attending weddings left and right, please share your own wedding reads!