Prince Henry, always the spare, is unexpectedly next in line for the throne of Wessco following the abdication of his older brother. Our charming prince is a playboy, a serial bed-hopper, a sweet talker and a bit of a rogue. His public loves him, his politicians manipulate him, and his granny, the queen, despairs over him.
To give him some headspace, she dispatches him to a remote castle to be alone with his thoughts. Henry decides being alone is rubbish, and he takes up the offer to have a film crew bring him twenty lovely aristocrats for a royal dating show to select him a wife. Sounds legit, right? Just no one tell Her Majesty.
Sarah is a bit of a wet blanket. Daughter of a Countess, she spends her days working in a library and shaking like a leaf whenever anyone puts her on the spot. She’s a scaredy cat, suffering not only from performance anxiety (though this doesn’t persist much past the initial telling us she has it) but also from fugues which cause her to black out whenever she’s alarmed by a loud noise. I’ve never heard of this and it sounds terrifying.
Quite a challenge for the author to find a middle ground for this couple. Henry’s a horny old goat and Sarah is a virgin, never even touched by a man. She goes to the castle as an assistant for her much more outgoing sister (a contestant in the show). Henry and Sarah have met before and after reacquainting themselves, he takes to sleeping in her bedroom as there are no cameras.
In the background of his ‘dating’ the candidates staying in his castle, he and Sarah become friends. He wants Sarah (or anyone), and the big question for me was whether Henry could ever give up the other girls and be monogamous. Sarah doesn’t believe he can – the triplet nieces of the archbishop, the barmaids, even a couple of girls in the show (before, not during filming). Pretty much anyone he could sleep with, Henry has. There’s no cheating that we know of but I didn’t feel the shift in him to convince me of this.
Part of my reasons for pursing my lips at this story was the short cutting of the intimate scenes between them in the first half. They’re sharing a bed and cuddling up – morning glory and all – but neither of them thinks much about this. I’m told they had lovely pillow talk, but the actual conversations are skimmed over. I like this sort of detail, it helps me feel how similar the H&H and how they’re interested in each other. Sarah comes across as grumpy and timid and I can’t say I was sure before they kiss that she really likes Henry that way. He makes her flustered but then so does everyone else. I’d love her to have spent some time examining her emotions and sexuality.
Henry, the dog, would definitely have screwed around if the cameras hadn’t cock blocked him. He’d have shared Sarah’s bed after getting it on with another woman *shudders*. Henry stops his dicking around, but his behavior turned me right off. I found it too hard to believe in the overwhelming love that came hard on the heels of his chasing the other women.
On the theme of shortcutting, this book comes with the bare minimum scene description, short chapters and plain language. There’s no love lost with poetic descriptions here. As there was a castle with beautiful rooms, I would like to have seen these in greater detail. I’d love to have got into those intimidate scenes and wallowed in the burgeoning love affair.
On the plus side, this means the story is light hearted and angst-light. I didn’t stumble over any slow sections – in fact it was much the opposite. I wanted the story to slow down and let me come to terms with plot events before lurching on.
Henry’s queen hunt does have a happy conclusion, and it’s a HEA. What that meant for the competition was irrelevant as this plot device happily went back into its box and was never seen again.
Overall this is cute but insubstantial. Book one had its issues too but was a better tale with more convincing love and chemistry.
A third in the series comes out later this year with book one heroine’s sister now in the frame. I guess she’s now a royal in the way Pippa Middleton is so the theme continues.
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Emma Chase
Release Date: February 21, 2017