October 2, 2012
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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?I've looked at Hester Browne's novels before (and been interested) but never read one before The Runaway Princess. I now think I'm going to have to make sure both her subsequent publications as well as those earlier ones I've passed by are on my to-read list.
What first drew me to The Runaway Princess was any possible similarities to either The Princess Diaries (the book or the movie) and/or The Prince and Me, the movie starring Julia Stiles. With, of course, the story moved to a more grown up world as those stories were aimed to a younger audience and Browne's novel is adult or at least new adult.
It's kind of great that the novel is slightly reminiscent of those tales -- Amy is an 'ordinary' girl, independent if not always confident similar archetypally to both Mia and to Stiles' character, Paige -- but is also so very different.
I really love the characters in this novel. Amy, first: Not only is she a gardener (which, after Simon Baker's Brian in Something New and this novel I now need more characters to be), but she co-owns her business. She's past school age but she's not man-crazy. I really enjoyed reading a book where the character was grown-up enough that they'd finished college/school and didn't immediately transition into husband hunting. While The Runaway Princess has romance, the whole story isn't Amy looking for love. We learn about Amy's goals, who she is, her family, her roommate. I appreciated her being a strong, independent character.
Which, is not to say I didn't like Leo. I kind of loved him actually. His 'prince'ness is actually part of what made The Runaway Princess so different from the other stories I've read and/or seen involving royalty and commoners or us ordinary people. He didn't come in with his royal procession or wearing a coat of arms. He was Leo. Of course, he's also Leopold William Victor Wolfsburg of Nirona.
And that's where some trouble possibly arises. Amy thinks she's found her perfect guy. But is Amy the Gardener really going to work with Prince Charming . . . and is Amy willing to give up all that she's dreamed and worked for just to keep her prince?
I really like that this novel is a bit of Cinderella for the modern girl. The girl who maybe does't need a prince to come and take her away from everything because maybe she was doing alright for herself.
It's a story that was, honestly, deeper that I thought it was going to be with a lot more development of both the characters and the story (I apologize for my preconceived notions of things with 'Princess' in the title).
thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for my review galley