Thursday, April 14, 2011

To Marry a Prince : : Anne McAllister

Last autumn my dear friend Sophie Page -- who writes romances as Sophie Weston and grammar books and other fun stuff as Jenny Haddon -- was hard at work on a project that was Top Secret.

"I'll tell you all about it -- later," she promised. "I can't stop writing now."

As someone who appreciates when the words are flowing, I waited. And waited. And -- at last -- it was done. And now it is on the shelves -- Sophie's wonderful To Marry a Prince.

Just in time for the 'real' royal nuptials, she has regaled us with a splendid, moving, funny story of an Alternative Universe England in which the heir is Prince Richard and the soon-to-be princess is the very ordinary Bella Greenwood.

It's Cinderella, but it's not Cinderella. No wicked stepmother. No annoying stepsisters. No glass slipper. It's more fun, more real and absolutely compelling.

Sophie knows her royals -- and her commoners -- and I loved her take on what happens when a very believable, very beleaguered royal falls in love.

If you've ever thought how wonderful it must be to be a princess -- or to marry a prince -- you will discover that it's not all it's cracked up to be. Duty and Responsibility are the orders of the day. You never do what you want to do -- only what you must do. Richard is a past master of that. But is that all life is ever going to be?

Sometimes he really does wonder. And then he meets Bella at a party -- in the dark. And he's charmed because she's charming -- and funny -- and she doesn't know who he is.


When she finds out, well, that's when things get really interesting.

And even more interesting when she can't quite forget him, when she falls in love with Richard. Prince Richard. Someday to be King Richard.

It's not a life she could imagine. Or ever wanted to. Bella has always had a life of her own. Suddenly she's Public Property. Her every word is scrutinied. Her choices are dissected. And while Richard has been raised to know how to deal with it, Bella has not.

Falling in love with a prince is a headache of monumental proportions. But watching Bella and Richard navigate the stormy seas of their relationship -- and his 'job' -- and her family -- is a delight.

If ever a marriage was not just about two people -- a royal marriage is it. Richard and Bella, though, prove up to the task. But exactly how they manage makes for a wonderful read.

I pretty much love everything Sophie writes, no matter what name she's writing it under (even the grammar book). Her voice, her wit, her charm -- all of the above -- sweep me right into her world. But I think To Marry a Prince is my favorite of all her books because every character, not just Richard and Bella, was so real to me.

I was charmed by Bella's friend, Lottie. I wanted to know Ian, one of Richard's security detail, a whole lot better (is there a book there, Sophie?). I thought Princess Eleanor definitely had a story in her. And I will not rest until I find out why Richard's brother George -- the 'spare' to Richard's 'heir' -- was riding his motorbike around Bristol dressed as a banana.

The King (in Sophie's England, we have a King on the throne -- and she can give you the entire genealogy if you ask her) is hard-working, the Queen is long-suffering. They both know that being the head of a country -- even a titular head -- is no picnic.

While they certainly love their son and want him to be happy, they know from experience that being prince -- and someday being king -- is not an easy destiny at the best of times. When Richard falls for Bella, they are hoping against hope that he hasn't chosen the wrong girl.

Bella's family are worthy of a book or two as well -- particularly her father, a loose cannon explorer nicknamed Finn for his Phineas Fogg tendencies. Her socialite mother is perfectly drawn, her steady-hand-on-the-rudder stepfather is the man everyone needs to depend on. The grandmother is great.

But it was Finn who well and truly caught me and made me laugh. An anti-royalist with Definite Opinions, Finn is appalled that his sensible daughter would ever fall in love with someone as useless as a prince.

That Richard actually idolizes her father for his adventurous lifestyle (and having no idea of Finn's Opinions, much less any inkling that he might actually, in one quarter at least, be disapproved of!)) makes things interesting indeed -- especially when the two finally meet.

To Marry a Prince was a delight from beginning to end. And when I did finish it reluctantly, I thought that if I were faced with all the rigamarole of a royal wedding of my own, I'd opt for reading this instead -- and then eloping!

If you can't get enough of royals and weddings this month, grab a copy of Sophie Page's To Marry a Prince.

It will make you smile and laugh and sigh with contentment. It's far more fun and far less stressful than the real thing!

Anne McAllister's own "royal" book -- The Virgin's Proposition -- just won the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice award for Best Harlequin Presents of 2010. There's obviously something about that royal fantasy that appeals!


desere_steenberg said...

Hi Anne,

A huge congratulations on you Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice award you deserve it and so much more !

Take Care,

ev said...


And I would read it just because I want to read the banana scene!!

Anne McAllister said...

Desere, Thanks so much! Your kind words are much appreciated.

Ev, It's just referred to - -that's why I want Sophie to write George's book! Well, that and because he understands the pressures his brother is under and George is a very compelling guy in his own right. Definitely worth a book! Not to mention a banana!

Jill said...

Congrats to you!
I shouldn't be surprised you are a Sophie Weston/Sophie Page/Jenny Haddon fan. Sophie is my all time favorite Harlequin Romance writer and you are my all time favorite Harlequin Presents writer. You both write such likeable characters and there's a bit of quirkiness I adore.
I gobbed down To Marry a Prince. And I mean gobbled, like I had not gobbled in ages. I def think George and Eleanor both need stories!

Nas Dean said...

Hi Anne,

Congratulations on you Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice award! You and THE VIRGIN'S PROPOSITION deserved it!

And Royal stories are so lovely to read, the post you did above of To Marry a Prince made it so tantalising, that now I have to add this book to my buy list!

Pat Cochran said...

Hi Anne,

I join those extending to you deserved congratulations on the RT Award!

I love reading about royals but I surely wouldn't want to be one!! To restricted a lifestyle for me!!

Pat Cochran

Anne McAllister said...

Hi Jill,

Thank you so much! And I'm so glad that you love Sophie/Jenny's books as much as I do. She's brilliant and insightful and funny. Love her books! Also glad you agree that George and Eleanor both need stories. I keep prodding!


Thank you! I'm glad you thought TVP deserved the award!

I enjoy reading 'royal stories' too -- but never as much as I enjoyed To Marry A Prince. Do get a copy -- and let me know what you think.

Anne McAllister said...

Hi Pat,

Don't think I would like being a royal -- or married to one, either. I'm already married to a man who is also wedded to his job. But at least he's not wedded to an entire country!

And thanks for the congrats! I'm very grateful.

marybelle said...

Royal fantasy's do appeal. On the written page & in real life. You can keep the etiquette & protocol thank you, I don't want it.

desere_steenberg said...

Your very welcome Anne!

bjs said...
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