I have troubled feelings about this one. It kind of looks like a Young Adult novel, which I’m fine with! A girl goes to a foreign country and meets a prince and falls in love: it’s a standard fairy tale and I’m on board if it makes me feel like a princess. But something about the tone or style sent mixed messages to my brain, and I couldn’t really get into the fantasy until almost the end.
Em is on vacation with her three sequel-bait friends in a small country called Garronia. She swims in the ocean, gets trapped by the current, and is rescued by a military guy. He pulls her to shore, and then they make out, like you do. He’s then whisked away. It turns out he’s the crown prince of Garronia, oh my heck!
But this is not a YA novel, in that its characters are in their twenties. Em is a grad school dropout because her parents were in a car crash and she takes care of them. She’s very responsible, and very obligated to her family, and this vacation is the only fun she plans on having for a very long time. She loves fairy tales, so when her friends point out that she kissed a prince, she calls herself Princess Emmaline (in her head) and agrees to tour the castle just for kicks.
Kristos has a “surly attitude and battle-worn body.” He was the younger son of a king, and he went into the military. Then his brother died in an accident, and his mean parents are making him assume his royal duties. He whines a lot about it.
The media figures out who Em is, and before you can say Princess Diana, she and her friends are moved into the castle for safekeeping. The country is very invested in Kristos’s love life, you see. Kristos whisks Em away to a secret villa, on the back of a motorcycle, and they talk about their challenging lives and their duties and how they like to kiss.
Then they have sex. Explicit enough that this is definitely not YA. Afterwards, Em falls asleep, and Kristos decides that he should sneak out of the villa and creep up on his bodyguard, just to keep up with his ninja skills or something. That was a big No for me. After sex, the guy must always stay and cuddle and be grateful, unless bad guys knock down the door. But Kristos just hopped out the window.
Here’s my second, even bigger, No.
She closed her eyes as well so he wouldn’t see her surprise – or the completely non-PC sense of triumph that surged through her. They weren’t using protection. And she was always the careful one, with all those dotted i’s and crossed t’s… But Princess Emmaline Aurora Grace didn’t have to worry about things like safety. Not with a vaunted prince of the realm.”
It’s like, is this a fairy tale or is this supposed to be reality? Because princes can knock you up or give you an STD as easily as Joe the Mechanic can, no matter how triumphant you feel. Whatever, Princess.
Kristos sees Em as different from all the other girls, and fragile-yet-strong, and he’s kind of cocky and he speaks like a George Hamilton vampire: “I have never kissed your shoulder, you see. And so here already is something new that you might teach me.”
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Jennifer Chance
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Elewyn Publishing