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REVIEW: Royal Weddings novellas

Dear Ladies,

I’ve read that Americans are more interested in British royal weddings than the Brits. Well, the bloom might be off the rose for me after watching Chuck + Di and Andrew + Fergie make hashes of their marriages but I do wish the latest young royal and his bride better luck. At least they’ve got some examples of what not to do. Anyway, when Harlequin announced a series of novellas involving past royal weddings as a way to celebrate this new one, I took a look.

I cherry picked 3 of the possible 7 short stories. The ones I skipped were mainly because some of the blurbs made it sound as if the story concentrated on royal couples I knew ultimately had terrible marriages.

A Princely Dilemma – Elizabeth Rolls

A Princely Dilemma  by 	Elizabeth RollsThe Prince of Wales detests his German bride to be Princess Caroline and it’s up to the newly married Duke and Duchess of Severn to coax them both into behaving like adults instead of spoiled brats. The problem is that the Duke and Duchess are also in an arranged marriage which isn’t going well. Will they discover love amidst the royal feuding?

I enjoyed the humor in this one. The hero, Severn, and Malmesbury discussing Prinny (who I couldn’t help but picture as REG had played him). “He is fat.” Also the Beaulieu family dinner party is a hoot with Severn’s firecracker sister and brother in law taking the piss out of the overbearing and condescending Dowager Duchess for Linnet.

I’m afraid though that I didn’t really get what Severn saw in Linnet – yes, he loves her little drab bird self but why? We know she’s sweet but he didn’t seem to know a great deal about her beyond that she reads. That she knows several languages has escaped him as well as what her real name is. It was an “all of a sudden” he’s in lurve and mega hot for her bod type thing. I thought they were the sweetest couple but I wanted to see more beyond his physical attraction to her. B-

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Princess Charlotte’s Choice – Ann Lethbridge

Princess Charlotte's Choice  by 	Ann LethbridgePrinny’s daughter Princess Charlotte is hoping to marry Prince Leopold. Charlotte’s lady in waiting Lady Isabelle is hoping to avoid Leopold’s boon companion Count Nikkolae Grazinsky who sweet talked Isabelle into falling for him two years ago then walked away. Can he convince her of his true and honorable intentions?

It’s nice to learn something about poor Princess Charlotte and her beloved Leopold even if I knew the tragic end that story would lead to. Isabelle and Nikki – again it’s insta love. Isabelle gives her heart to Nikki then the Big Mis rears its ugly head and she doesn’t get that he walks away because he’s poor. Of course he never says anything either so why should she? Then they meet and she thinks he’s mocking her so she seeks him out, in the stable by herself, to tell him to leave her alone. Is she worried about her rep which she says he already damaged? Apparently not. I’m as appalled as Nikki and wondering where her wits are. Then he does the strong arm thing and totally arranges her future without a by-your-leave. Shades of Barbara Cartland here. C

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The Problem with Josephine – Lucy Ashford

The Problem with Josephine - Lucy AshfordSeamstress Sophie is on a mission. She needs to find a painter to redo the scattered images of divorced former Empress Josephine as Napoleon prepares for his gala marriage to Marie-Louise of Austria. Rakish painter Jacques agrees but for the price of one kiss for each hour he works. Will they find love amidst the paint fumes?

I’m amazed at the number of romance tropes that make into this short, short story. Let’s see, there’s the heroine who must valiantly and at the last minute cover for daddy’s failings and shortsightedness in not using the money given to him to fix these paintings but rather spending it on other restorations. The prim heroine falls for and gives it up to a poor starving artist for the proverbial one night of love. Of course hero is actually someone in disguise. Oh, why can’t we have a real poor starving artist hero? Of course heroine knows he’s a rake, practiced flirt, charmer but she can’t help busting out of her buttoned up persona as she swoons from his masterful kisses. True love in 7 evenings and marriage to an aristo? Sure, why not. C-

The short stories are easy to read, quick little aperitifs. But while aperitifs are fine when you know the main courses are still to come, here they did leave me wanting. There’s too much reliance on quick tropes and easy plot short cuts. However with the limited word count, that’s probably the best I could expect and though the price is lower than regular books, it’s still a little high for what I got.

~Jayne

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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

20 Comments

  1. SN
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 05:44:13

    “I’ve read that Americans are more interested in British royal weddings than the Brits.”

    I’d say you’re correct! But why only for English weddings – I didn’t see any fuss when Australian commoner Mary married the Crown Prince of Denmark, for example?
    Come on guys, there’re much better-looking royals out there than those inbred Windsors!

    Fantastic reviews, but I’m so anti-royal wedding I don’t think I can make myself look into anything with this theme.

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  2. Jayne
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 06:37:15

    @SN: You’re right. Weddings for other royal houses rarely get much attention here. One exception was last year’s wedding of the Crown Princess of Sweden. That seemed to garner at least some coverage. It’s probably a circle of the media doesn’t think Americans would be interested so they don’t cover these events so people hear little about them.

    I have mixed feelings about the upcoming wedding. They’re romantic fun to watch – because no one does pomp and circumstance like the English – but I wouldn’t trade places with Kate Middleton for half the chocolate in the world.

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  3. Ros
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 07:05:12

    I downloaded a royal wedding inspired anthology the other day which included 3 short stories by Stephanie Laurens, Gaelen Foley and Loretta Chase. For its 49p price I thought it was a bargain! Also, it is the first thing I have ever read by Laurens which has no sex scenes. Yup, that’s right, Laurens can write something other than sex – who knew?! All the stories are set around a royal wedding rather than the couple in the royal wedding itself and that worked better for me because I wasn’t troubled by the real-life histories of the hero and heroine.

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  4. DS
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 08:24:29

    La-la-la I can’t hearing anything about a royal wedding. *Hands over eyes* I can’t see anything about a royal wedding. I had totally forgot about a royal wedding until now and I am going to work at forgetting about it again.

    I did enjoy the irony of the fact that all three of the royal marriages mentioned ended in disaster one way or another.

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  5. Jayne
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 08:47:12

    @Ros: A Laurens with no sex?! Never thought I’d live to see the day….

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  6. Jayne
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 08:50:13

    @DS: Just keep humming, it’ll all be over soon.

    Of the possible marriages in the novellas, the only one that I’d really call a long term success was Queen Victoria – and even that ultimately didn’t end well. But still better than George I, Henry II or Richard the Lionhearted.

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  7. Polly
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 11:12:19

    The fascination with royal weddings (and marriages) always amazes me. The happiest English royal marriage I can think of was Charles I and Henrietta Maria, who actually seem to have loved each other–and, even more surprisingly, both seem to have been faithful to each other. And that marriage ended with a civil war, a trial for treason, and the execution of a sitting monarch. Definitely plenty of grist for a novel, but I just can’t imagine Charles as a romance hero.

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  8. Kim in Hawaii
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 11:34:59

    The Honolulu Star Advertiser published a story of a Royal Wedding over a century ago – King Kamehemeha IV and Miss Emma Rooke:

    http://www.staradvertiser.com/features/featuresstories/20110426_A_royal_affair.html

    The Hawaiian royal couple would become friend with Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and other dignitaries around the world. Queen Emma’s summer house on the Pali Highway displays many gifts the royal couple received from other royal houses.

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  9. Sybil
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 15:50:55

    Unless I am remembering wrong, doesn’t Stephanie Laurens have four or so regency novels she did with Harlequin forever ago. The title Four in Hand (that isn’t right but close) comes to mind. Don’t think any of them had sex…

    LOL nothing to do with the post *g*

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  10. FiaQ
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 16:52:26

    Chuck + Di

    What on earth is that about?

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  11. Elizabeth Rolls
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 18:48:24

    @Jayne: But what about ALL the chocolate, Jayne?
    Actually you had to be in Australia to hear all the hoohah about Our Princess Mary. I’m not sure that it’s so much that Americans are interested in royalty per se; it’s more that you have a lot of anglophiles on board. But I’ll bet your media would have hopped on the wagon if Crown Prince Frederick had married an American.

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  12. MaryK
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 23:33:31

    @Jayne:

    but I wouldn’t trade places with Kate Middleton for half the chocolate in the world.

    LOL, I know what you mean! I’m completely skeptical. All I can think of is how romantic his mother’s marriage was supposed to be and how it actually turned out.

    I thought the royal characters were the focus of these HQN shorts and so have been avoiding them. If the royals are just side characters, I think I’ll take another look.

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  13. Jayne
    Apr 28, 2011 @ 04:13:04

    @FiaQ: Are you shitting me?

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  14. Jayne
    Apr 28, 2011 @ 04:34:52

    @MaryK: There are two novellas – Henry II and George I – that I’m not sure if the main emphasis is on the royal marriage or if they’re a sideline.

    When I heard that Kate was getting the big, gaudy sapphire engagement ring my first thought was “I hope she has better luck with it than her deceased m-i-l did.”

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  15. Jayne
    Apr 28, 2011 @ 04:39:22

    @Elizabeth Rolls: Okay for ALL the chocolate in the world, I’d consider it. But then the press would be harping on my weight so on second thought, perhaps I need to ask for something else. ;)

    And I bet you’re correct about an American catching a royal eye and our press going mad.

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  16. Elizabeth Rolls
    Apr 28, 2011 @ 06:28:38

    @Jayne: All the books you want to read? Even for that I’d run a mile in the opposite direction because someone would find the time to criticise my choice of reading matter as too high/low brow. And I won’t take anyone’s money on that bet about your press.;) Be unfair.

    I gulped a bit, too, when I read about Prince William giving Kate his mother’s engagement ring, but then I thought that it was better to give the thing a fresh start. I was slightly stunned at those who felt that it was a hand-me-down, and that in giving it Prince William had behaved cheaply. Let’s hear it for hand-me-downs in that case. To be honest I think the pair of them are in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation. Whatever they do someone will find something to complain about. For that reason alone I’d be wishing them the best of luck.

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  17. Jayne
    Apr 28, 2011 @ 06:43:20

    @Elizabeth Rolls: As you say, gimme those hand-me-downs! Perhaps Kate will give “the ring” some better mojo.

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  18. Ros
    Apr 28, 2011 @ 13:46:12

    @Elizabeth Rolls: I thought that was a tricky thing to get right. At a personal level I can completely understand why William wanted to use that ring and for most people I’d say that was a lovely gesture. But two things make me uncomfortable about it: first that the ring is the symbol of an incredibly unhappy marriage – it’s not just Diana’s ring, it’s the ring that Charles gave her when he was in love with another woman; and second, that it is an iconic ring which carries a lot of non-personal significance around the world. If I were Kate, I don’t know that I would want to be burdened with that and the inevitable comparisons with Diana that it invites.

    But, hey, they didn’t ask me! Can’t think why.

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  19. Elizabeth Rolls
    Apr 29, 2011 @ 08:47:35

    @Ros: It’s hard, isn’t it? I just think that sort of thing can only be judged by the people involved. No matter how much we might like to think we’re informed, we don’t know Prince William, Kate Middleton or the Prince of Wales, we didn’t know the Princess of Wales, and we have absolutely no right to judge them because of what we have read in magazines. Yes, it was a disastrous marriage. Given what we now know of the circumstances it was doomed from the start. But I’d like to think that Prince William has chosen to give that ring to his wife because it is a tangible link with the other most important woman in his life, his mother; and that he gave it as a measure of love. So shoot me. I write romance for a living.

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  20. What about those cliffhangers?
    May 03, 2011 @ 06:41:36

    [...] & REVIEW: The Highest Stakes of All by Sara Craven REVIEW: Petals and Thorns by Jennifer Paris REVIEW: Royal Weddings novellas DUELING REVIEW: Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson REVIEW: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a [...]

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