Desert Isle Keeper
Who here loved (or still loves) The Princess Diaries? What little girl doesn’t want to be a secret princess? The idea that there is more to you and to your family, that who you are is enough to change the world and change people’s lives, is pretty amazing. What doesn’t come across as a kid is the work and responsibility and the utter change in how you view yourself that would come with it.
Samantha Rousseau is your typical Masters student – bunking with roommates, dealing with budget troubles, and generally running around trying to get everything done. Her everything just happens to cover caring for her sick father, chopping up mice for the injured raptors at the wildlife center where she works, and grading the tests and quizzes of disinterested undergraduates. However, when two members of the royal family of a small European country come to town, she is surprised with a new fact about herself and her family – she is the last in line to be Duchess Rousseau, of the country Lilaria. And now she has to decide whether or not she wants to accept the title, lands, money, and responsibility that goes with it. And the handsome Prince Alex isn’t making things any easier on her.
Alex D’Lynsal, as the crown prince of Lilaria, has a lot of responsibilities. But, after meeting the sassy Sam, she can’t seem to shake him. Everywhere she turns, there he is, from playing Monopoly on the plane ride to Lilaria, to acting as her escort to her new lands, being charming and helpful and distracting. There’s a reason Sam’s best friend Jess labeled him “Prince Yummy.”
Now, when I’m reading books to review, I have a system. Most reviewers do, I think, in some form or another. There’s something about reading a review book that is different than just reading for fun. Personally, I try to pay less attention to my own personal preferences (though goodness knows they shine through anyways) and think more about what kind of audience it’s meant for. And then I take notes. Copious amounts of notes. There’s something about the act of writing things down that helps clarify the stories and the characters. But here’s the kicker – for Suddenly Royal, I was so caught up in reading, I wrote next to nothing. I almost forgot about the review part altogether. This is probably one of the highest compliments I can pay a book. Seriously.
About the book, though – why didn’t it get an A+ times 1,000? I got a bit annoyed with two different things in the story. Thing #1 – Sam’s dad and his actions, specifically those towards the end of the book, have a purpose in the plot and are well-meaning but so incredibly poorly thought out that I wanted to yell at a sick man with cancer. That’s not good. Thing #2 – Sam spends so much time waffling over what she wants to do. I get it, it is a big decision, but come on! You want to go, your family and friends want you to go, Prince Yummy wants you to go – why aren’t you going? In the end it wasn’t enough to really change my mind about the book overall, it just irked me a bit.
Now on to the more fun bit for this story – what I liked. Well, honestly, almost everything. I really liked Sam – I want her as a friend, with or without the royal connections. She’s smart and sassy and dedicated, but isn’t so perfect that you want to smack her. There’s a lovely moment early on where she is going to meet a Duchess (and Prince Yummy) for dinner before she knows about her family legacy. The hostess and maitre d’ both sneer at her, and say she isn’t on the list. When Sam insists that they check with the Duchess, the maitre d’ heads out, and before the hostess can close the reservation book, Sam sees her name listed – they flat out lied because they didn’t want to seat her (she drove up in her dying truck, she isn’t particularly glamorous, take your pick). Sam stalks off after the maitre d’ and overhears him telling the Duchess that he thinks Sam looks “rather questionable.” Sam’s response? “The ‘rather questionable’ woman is standing right behind you.” She’s feisty. I like her.
Sadly, we don’t get nearly as much of Alex as I would have liked, since the book is told completely in first person from Sam’s point of view. What we do get of him, through her eyes, is lovely – he’s smart, interested in a lot of the same things that she is (family, and birds and preservation to name a few), and seems to genuinely care for her from the beginning. He feels very genuine. His sister looks like a lot of fun as well – we get to see her in party mode a few times, as well as a quick preview of her as the heroine of the second book in this new series.
Again, do you like The Princess Diaries? This book honestly is a fun and refreshing mash-up of that and the movie The Prince and Me. It’s cute and sweet and has this lovely slow sizzle between Alex and Sam that is just quite wonderful. I can definitely recommend it. For just about everyone, really.