Even during the fitful bouts of sleep, her mind had been filled with a suave, secretive seducer in a princely uniform who spoke endearments in an unknown language and caressed her body in all the right ways. (Loc. 1201-1203)
For today’s post I wrote a book review for author Devika Fernando’s first book in the Royal Romance series, The Prince’s Special Bride. Before I start, I just want to warn you that the novel triggered some mixed feeling inside me, so bear in mind that there will be also some negative aspects I will outline from an honest reader’s point of view. If you have different opinions, at least respect mine.
Marie Kemei works as a night manager at a resort on Kuramathi Island, in the Maldives, but her life is about to change drastically when she finds Olivia, the runaway Crown Princess of Taragonia. She was hiding from her family because they were forcing her to enter an arranged marriage with the Crown Prince of Visteria. If this wasn’t bad enough, Crown Prince Christian of Taragonia, Liv’s brother, shows up and the salty air becomes heavier with mutual attraction between Marie and Christian. Later on, Princess Olivia arranges a trip for Marie to come to Taragonia to assist the future bride as a dear friend and bride’s maid, but this also means that Christian and Marie will meet again. How will this modern Cinderella adapt to royal life in order to find her ‘happily ever after’ by Prince Christian’s side?
The positive aspects are about the writing. I love Devika’s writing and the way she uses the English vocabulary makes the dialogue feel real and dynamic. The setting is gorgeous, from the beach and the sunset in the Maldives, to the majestic Taragonian palace and its lavish gardens. The rooms and the elegant dresses and jewels are depicted clearly as if you can see or even feel the fabrics and other objects. The royal events and campaigns are described well and, along with the strict presence of the Queen Mother, they made me think of the British Royal Family and their charitable work around the world. The writing is easy to follow, witty and the tension and suspense are just right.
If you ask me which was my favourite character, I would answer that it’s the Queen of Taragonia. Why? Because she is dignified, strict, conservative and she puts Marie to the test, because no monarch would allow an outsider to enter a royal family without one’s consent. The way this royal lady talks, her body language and even her looks made me associate her with a middle-aged version of HRH Queen Elisabeth II. Then I liked Olivia, who preferred to run away than to become the bride of a self-cantered playboy prince just for political reasons. She is stubborn and in desperate need of freedom, because the rules imposed by royal tradition suffocate her. She loves her country and her subjects like her brother Christian does and her love shines through the charity work.
Christian, Crown Prince of Taragonia is strict like his mother, because he was raised to become a king one day. At first glance, he seems very severe, conservative and even cold, but this will change when Marie steals his heart. Christian cares a lot about the etiquette and his family’s reputation, he is a workaholic and an intelligent young man, who has learned a little bit of everything – from economics, politics, wine industry to charity work and so on. He becomes angry and lectures Olivia for acting unladylike and despite the fact that the prince tries not to show his feelings, Marie can easily read him like an open book, so most of the time he cannot fool her. Christian is an okay character but, as well as in Marie’s case, I didn’t feel that connection with him. I hate to say it, but he seems to be Mr. Perfect who cares about his country, the royal rules, tradition and, on top of all that, he is the well-bred workaholic and eligible bachelor of Taragonia. Yes, Christian gets angry, quarrels or lusts for Marie like a normal human being would, but I think he needed more depth as an important character and Marie’s love interest.
And last but not least, let’s talk about Marie, the night manager who shows Liv what it feels like to live like an ordinary person for a day or so. Marie is also a workaholic, who had a hard life as a child, but her back-story is very inconsistent, if you ask me. I personally needed more details about her life, because she is the protagonist. Even if it hurt, Marie should have been able to remember a little more about her mother than what appears into the book. As a character, Marie is professional when it comes to her job, a witty and quirky friend to Olivia, but she’s a bit silly while she is around Christian, blurting things she doesn’t actually want to say and making a fool of herself at the royal court. Who wouldn’t? I wouldn’t do a better job at a royal court either.
Marie is caring and loves being around people, though she notices that she is perceived as an outsider and she is constantly afraid that people will judge her by the color of her skin (she is half-African). Honestly, I wanted Marie to have a little more depth as a character because, despite Christian’s fascination with her intelligence, I found her… not necessarily superficial, but pretty colorless for a protagonist. I really wished to feel more attached to her since the story revolves around her, but I couldn’t.
Overall, the story is sweet and perfect to be read at the beach, but it didn’t work for me that much, because of the reasons mentioned above, but also because the climax didn’t have all the ingredients to blow my mind. I liked the instant friendship between Marie and Olivia and I loved the sexual tension between Marie and Christian when they went for a swim into the spring and the library scene, but the romance between the main characters wasn’t always that great.
by Alina Andreea Cătărău