Friday, 19 July 2013

'Once Upon A Prince' - a book review

I came across Once Upon A Prince as a free book offered for review on Booksneeze. Sounds fun, I thought, completely forgetting that I had already read gobbled up The Wedding Dress by the same author. Once I started reading this fairytale romance, I was similarly captivated.

Susanna Truitt is our heroine, a Georgia girl who is dumped by her long term boyfriend/anticipated husband at the start of the novel. Having dated no one else since high school, she has waited through 12 long years and all his spells of military duty overseas only to discover that he has fallen in love with a colleague.

This is not going according to plan, and plans are what Susanna lives by. Even her career as a landscape architect is going nowhere and so she works in the family eatery business in between trying to work for an old friend and branching out on her own: both enterprises fail.

This is not a story, however, about how an independent woman builds a successful career: anything but. It is almost Cinderella - except that Susanna is surrounded by loving family and friends. She soon meets her prince, who introduces himself as `Nate Kenneth' - the name Prince Nathaniel Henry Kenneth Mark Stratton uses when he is travelling incognito. Susanna has no idea that he is the heir apparent to a small European country. Modest and unassuming, he keeps such a low profile that she discovers his identity only by chance. As mutual attraction develops, so too do the complications. He is a prince of a foreign country; she is American. He has a life planned out for him; she is trying to discover the plan for her life. Both of them find they have to surrender their wills to God's perfect plan, while using the talents and gifts they have been given.

Rachel Hauck skilfully develops the characters of hero and heroine, their friends and families. Without too much introspection, we understand how Susanna and Nate think. Language is frequently quirky; often amusing; on appropriate occasions, it is tenderly romantic.

Of course, the story ends in happily-ever-after. The beauty of it is in discovering how the author works the threads together to achieve this. I have read it twice now: the first time quickly, then again a few weeks after for the purposes of this review. The second time was almost as fresh as the first, as I enjoyed noticing the twists and turns in the plot.

The only jarring note for me, as a British reader, was the name of Prince Nathaniel's country: Brighton, which is actually the name of a well-known town on the south coast of England. This really hindered me from understanding what the country was like, which was a pity. I had to invent a completely different pronunciation of the word as I read, so that it didn't continually grate on my nerves!

Perhaps, were the book to be republished in England, the name 'Brighton' could be changed?!

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