I forget where I saw this book mentioned, but I thought the premise was intriguing so I picked it up from the library when it was available. Well my reading it and mentioning it to Nath brought it to her attention and she read it shortly after I did. A big thank you to my mystery book pimp because we definitely enjoyed this book!
The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne
published by Simon & Schuster (Pocket) in October 2012
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?Genre: Chick-lit
The Story: Amy Wilder is a professional gardener, more comfortable with her plants and flowers than with people - especially cute guys. During a party that Amy is hosting - her roommate's attempt to matchmake Amy - she meets Leo who seems to be the perfect guy. Very quickly, the two fall in love and are happy with each other. However, very soon, the real world intrudes on their happiness. Dating a prince, Amy finds herself in the eye of the media. While not comfortable with all the attention, she'd rather they focus on her because if they start digging, she knows her family will not hold up to the scrutiny. Unfortunately, it only gets worse when the line of succession changes and Leo finds himself second-in-line for the crown of Nirona. Can she handle the pressure and get her HEA ending with Leo?
Ames: So Nath, what did you think of The Runaway Princess? When was the last time you’d read chick lit? I know for myself, it had been a while.
Nath: I did read one last year actually! It was when I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella was released! So yeah, it’s been a while... Oh wait, is Off the Menu chick-lit or women’s fiction? Because we both read that one! LOL. Once again, I have to thank you for bringing The Runaway Princess to my attention, Ames. It turned out to be quite an enjoyable read and if it hadn’t been for you, I would never have picked it up!
By the way, I think I have finally found the secret to my enjoyment of chick-lit!! Pick books where the heroines are not completely clueless! Yes, Amy was naive at times, but she was also a professional - like Alana in Off the Menu - and it made for a more balanced and likable heroine :)
Ames: I would consider Off the Menu women’s fiction. And I’m glad you enjoyed this one! Normally, I wouldn’t pick something like The Runaway Princess up, and I can’t for the life of me remember where I saw it reviewed, but thanks to that blogger out there for bringing that book to my attention. :P
And I agree with you, I am not a fan of clueless heroines. I think a big thing that kept Amy real was her circle of friends. She was just a regular person living with a friend, having a bit of social awkwardness and owning a dog. The author did a good job of making her relatable.
Nath: I agree, she was very relatable and I think that’s why this fairy tale romance was more believable. Speaking of the romance, wasn’t it oh-so sweet? :) *Dreamy sigh* I think Leo was the perfect prince LOL.
Ames: I loved Leo!!
I liked how he was introduced and the dynamic with his brother. He didn’t have a stuck up attitude, he was actually sweet about Amy’s family. The only thing that bothered me a bit and this would seem realistic to someone like him is wanting to solve problems by throwing money at it. And the fountain? The proposal? *sigh* All good. And really, he does the ultimate thing for his love for Amy that I almost cried at the end. LOL
Nath: Oh yeah, Leo did everything just perfectly :) And while the ending was a bit too ideal, it worked and it did suit Leo :) As I said earlier, Leo was just perfect :) He was such a sweet guy and so understanding towards Amy! And I loved his low-key, down-to-earth attitude. There was no sense of entitlement at all. At the same time, he was conscious of his position and his life and that’s why when he became the heir, he asked Amy if she would stick with him.
Seriously, Amy’s father’s issue with Leo annoyed me. I think like you Ames, that someone in Leo’s position would be used to solve problems by throwing money. And is that completely wrong? I don’t think so. It’s true that money doesn’t solve everything, but it does make a lot go away... And really, it’s not as if Leo had any lessons to receive from Amy’s family who has been deluding themselves for years. Keeping their heads down, not kicking up the dust in fear for people to remember.
Ames: Maybe that was the point though - through her and her family, he learned that throwing money around wasn’t always the best way to fix something. And that’s the thing, throwing money at something can makes things easier...but that’s not always the best thing. However, I thought the disparity in their family situations was dealt with in a good way.
Now Leo may have been perfect, but his family definitely was NOT. (By saying that, I’m not saying that Amy’s family was perfect either.) I disliked his sister (and I’m glad her attempts at sabotage didn’t go on forever and in worse ways) and his mom got on my nerves a bit. Like none of them were understanding of what Amy was going through - she had to get used to their lifestyle and you know if if the tables were turned and they had to get used to HER lifestyle that she would have been a heck of a lot nicer and more patient about things.
Which leads me to something I did like about the book - Amy and Leo come from very different backgrounds, but between the two of them, they were equals.
Nath: I agree with you, the fact that Amy and Leo were equals in their relationship is what made the book. I think Amy and Leo had a lot in common and also complemented each other as well. They were a really good couple.
As for their families and the disparity, it’s true it was handled well... but I can’t help but think that at times, Leo and his entourage were really dense about Amy’s situation. That surprises me because in all the other aspects, I feel Leo was so attentive and minutious. For example, most of the book, Amy tried to pay her way and that’s very admirable of her, but really, it’s obvious that she cannot keep the royal pace. I thought that’s something Leo and his family should have been conscious about.
I disliked Leo’s sister as well because her actions were mean. You have a grudge against the whole world because of how the monarchy works, fine, but you could make an effort. However, I don’t know, I could understand why she was the way she was. It’s like trying to show the whole world that you’re the one worthy while knowing it can never happen. If she was nicer, I’d sympathize with her. The character that I really hated was Amy’s sister. Running away and leaving her family to face the consequences, so frustrating... and the thing is, she hasn’t changed at all! Even her coming back into Amy’s life at the end of the book was for her benefit, not Amy’s or their parents’. Selfish, selfish, selfish :(
Something else that really bothered me was that Amy kept her family's past from Leo. I understand it's something she doesn't want to think about anymore, but I thought given the royal situation they were in, she should have told Leo. That way, they could have found a way to deal with it with the media, because seriously, it was bound to come out. Plus, I think it's something that she should have shared with her future husband.
Still, on a whole, I really enjoyed The Runaway Princess for the characters and for the romance. I think that Ms Browne did a good job at making the story feel realistic... except for the part where Amy dealt with the notoriety and the paparazzi. And that annoyed me because Amy’s reaction was too naive, too innocent and too stupid. And really, she had no excuse, not after the British royal wedding - which was mentioned in the book!
Ames: I disliked Amy’s sister too!! And I completely agree with you that in today’s day and age, and even though Amy isn’t really into social media the way her friend Jo was, she was too naive about the whole paparazzi thing. It was believable to some extent, but not to the degree that Amy was. And that extends to her family's past too. So yes, that withholding on Amy's part also annoyed me a bit.
However, despite all the little things that got on my nerves, I really enjoyed The Runaway Princess as well. I liked Amy’s character, her circle of friends and Leo. Leo was such a good hero. Remember that one scene where Amy is going to meet him and she sees him reading on a kindle while he’s waiting for her? I think that’s what made me fall a little bit in love with him. LOL He was a reader! I liked that Amy’s job wasn’t glamourous either. She literally got her hands dirty as a gardener! And then Leo at the end, what he did for Amy, that almost made me cry. This book had so many good moments. :P
Nath: Oh this book definitely had good moments. And yes, that scene where Leo is waiting, reading on his kindle, swoon-worthy :) He was the highlight of the book for me and I wished we got a little bit more of his POV. I’m really glad I picked The Runaway Princess, because it was an enjoyable read. It gets a B from me :)
Ames: I’m giving it a B+.