Best Friend to Princess Bride
I used to read category romance by the boxful, but as the focus of many lines has shifted to babies and billionaires, I have to admit that my reading of them has slowed down. Lately, though, I’ve been craving the tight plotting and quick reading of a good category book and I’ve been dipping my toes back into those waters. This has gone largely successfully, and Best Friend to Princess Bride was a fun, light read. If you’re looking to divert yourself with a fairytale for the afternoon, this one is mostly lovely.
Kara has been close friends with Prince Edwin of Monrosa for years. Edwin and her brother Michael met at university, and the three were inseparable friends until her brother’s death by suicide. The story picks up some years after this event, and we see that Edwin has returned to Monrosa while Kara now runs a charity called Young Adults Together. Her wish is to expand the charity and to reach as many people as possible with the group’s mental health advocacy.
Kara’s world gets upended on a visit with Edwin when he shares with her that his aging father plans to abdicate the throne. As the oldest son, Edwin would normally succeed his father, but the laws of Montrosa have been changed to require that the ruling prince (or princess) be married. Since Edwin has spent his entire adult life avoiding emotional vulnerability and close relationships, he’s in a quandry. He asks Kara to marry him so that he can secure his throne, and he promises her it would only be a marriage of convenience.
Veteran romance readers know where this is going. Of course there is chemistry between Kara and Edwin. As they travel to the Mediterranean island of Monrosa, we see the tensions between them and I actually rather enjoyed watching them try to negotiate their friendship as it turned into something clearly more romantic.
Royal watchers may see recognize more than a few elements in this story. After all, the leads are university friends. There is also mention made of how Prince Edwin and his younger brothers were forced by their father to walk in their mother’s funeral procession as children and how negatively this affected them. I’m American, but I suspect British readers might draw more parallels.
On the one hand, this book does deal in some heavy subject matter. The death of Kara’s brother and the loss of Edwin’s mother have shaped their lives, and the pain lingers. Yet, this book still has enough of a fairytale quality about it in that readers get the sense that everyone is going to be all right in the end, and there’s an optimism to the story that I found engaging. Kara and Edwin’s inability to communicate and tendency to jump to conclusions rather than engage in conversation grates a bit at times, but I still enjoyed this book far more than I didn’t. If you want to be whisked away to an imaginary kingdom for a few hours, Monrosa seems a lovely place to go.
Note: this book includes mention (not graphic) of suicide and general discussion of mental health issues.