The Runaway Princess
by Hester Browne
Published by Gallery Books
Genre: chick lit; romance
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview
3 / 5 cupcakes
When you watched Prince William marry Kate Middleton, did you wish you were a princess? Just a teensy tiny bit? The dress? The tiara? The carriage? All those cameras trained on you, all those eyes?
For Amy Wilde, such fantasies do not exist. She just wants to meet a nice man who loves her. He doesn't have to be a prince or a lord or even a court jester. Just be kind, loving, supportive. So when she meets Leo at a party she and her friend throw, she thinks that she might have found what she's looking for. He's gorgeous, he shows interest in her, and he seems to like her.
Now, most girls, when the man they are interested in turns out to be a prince, would be thrilled. And Amy is, to some degree. Leo, it turns out, is actually Leopold William Victor Wolfsburg of Nirona, a fictional kingdom near Italy. The good news is that Leo's father is second in line to the throne, so there isn't any potential of Leo becoming king or anything. The pressure is off ... a little, anyway. Leo's mother, a former super model, demands a certain amount of princessy perfection from Amy, demanding that her wardrobe be suitable and that she appear poised and regal. Meanwhile, Amy's business, a horticulture landscaping company she co-owns with a pal, demands her attention, as do her parents. How can she be the future bride Leo appears to want?
This is a cute, sprightly book, but don't let that cuteness fool you. At its crux, Hester Browne's book asks an important question: just how much are you willing to give up in exchange for the person you love? What if you need to change the essence of who you are, even if just a little?
Leo loves Amy, we do not question that, and he's a good man. But Leo, it turns out, is what bothers me most about this book. He's dull. Not that Amy Wilde is all that wild; she's actually a fairly modest, conservative girl who happens to enjoy a glass of wine or three. She's hard working and focused, and she needs someone less buttoned up, otherwise she risks being dull. And dull she becomes, the more she hangs out with Leo. He's all about family duty, and although he cares deeply for Amy, I didn't want them together. His rafish brother Rolf is the family's wild child, and, likewise, a lot more interesting. I'm not saying Amy needs a bad boy, but she needs someone with some edge to him. And Leo does not.
As far as a fun, cute read is concerned, this is a decent one. Its hotness quotient is nearly nonexistent; there is some snogging but all shagging is kept away from us. Maybe if Leo turned out to be a scorching lover, he would have kept my interest. But we don't know, because Hester Browne never tells or shows us.
What we're left with, then, is a capable, cute story that does ask interesting questions. Unfortunately, it lacks an interesting hero.