Avon, $5.99, ISBN 978-0-06-231745-2
Contemporary Romance, 2013
Suddenly Royal is like a young lady wearing the most demure dress ever, knocking on the door to sell cookies, only to suddenly rip off the dress to reveal some kind of stripper gear and start twerking against the mailbox stand. I don’t know whether to capture the whole thing and upload it to Youtube or to take a tranquilizer gun and put her out of her misery. For the most part, this story reads like a standard G-rated young adult chick lit story, only to suddenly shove at my face things like “his balls pressed against my swollen mound”. It’s all so bizarre, and I can’t help thinking that if the author wants her books to be every little girl’s introduction to the mysteries of swollen body bits, the least she could have done to put in lots of teen angst and sweeping melodramatic taboo love like VC Andrews used to do. This is because, as it is, this story is a pretty dull and banal affair.
Samantha Rosseau is the usual young lady protagonist, generally moping and feeling blue despite the constant efforts by her more adventurous BFF to cheer her up. Naturally, she has a stepfather who has cancer and she needs lots of money to pay for his medical bills. Poverty and ill family members are the perfect accessories for this kind of heroines, after all. As you can imagine, she has no time for fun, nothing, just a big fat round yellow sad smiley of a face. She studies ornithology at college, because really, when you have a dire need to make lots of money to ensure that Daddy’s final days on earth are happy ones, you get a wildlife biology degree: “Hello, sir, would you like some cake to go with the latte? Oh, and I like birds, big ones – do you have a big bird, sir?”
Also at her college is HRH Alex D’Lynsal, the crown prince of Lilaria. Lilaria is somewhere in France, right near the magical portal that connects Earth to Equastria and the Kingdom of Caring. It is a very rich country, thanks to the presence of oil within its borders (that makes sense, as we all know France is one of the major producers of oil in the world). Alex is very hot, and all the girls want to touch his royal scepter and make a wish on it so that they too can be pretty princesses with pink tiaras and unicorn steeds. Not Sam – she’s too busy studying big birds, and she’s not interested unless Alex has one. Speaking of which…
Anyway, she also discovers soon enough that she has inherited some estate in Lilaria as well as a place in the “queen’s council”. Sam is soon swept away to that country, and discovers that she likes researching Alex as much as she does raptors. However, just when they are falling in love, she realizes that this story needs a conflict, so she’s suddenly reluctant to be famous (for some reason, being American and rich in Liliaria is reason enough to make people think that she’s Angelina Jolie or something). Can Alex convince her that she’s destined to be his very own Kate Middleton?
This story is bland. Comparisons to Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries series are probably inevitable, but Nichole Chase lacks the wit and the comedic timing to warrant such comparisons. Her brand of humor tilts towards cringe-inducing kind of cutesy, the kind usually delivered in an annoying high-pitched voice by ridiculous women who think they are funny. If you don’t cringe each time Sam calls Alex “Prince Yummy”, then you may just like the author’s style. If you do cringe, brace yourself, because there’s more where that comes from. There is a juvenile tinge to the author’s efforts at sarcasm and humorous cynicism, as if Ms Chase is really trying to be witty but can only go as far as “yummy” and “stupid little dildo”, like she’s wearing a Ronald McDonald costume and throwing a party to entertain thirteen year old kids.
It doesn’t help that life as an aristocrat in Lilaria is portrayed in a lifeless and tepid manner. All the tired played-out tropes revolving around the “I’m adored because I’m going to be a princess, so sparkly and special” premise are here. Sam comes off as a very one-note stereotype, and since this story is narrated from her point of view, Alex comes off as even more one-note. He has issues with a bad relationship in the past, and he’s now a player, but now that he has met Sam and just knows how special she is to him, he wants to marry her and love her forever. Suddenly Royal is a very superficial rehash of a typical princess fantasy. I wish the author has done something to make things less predictable here, but I guess that’s another wish that is going to remain unfulfilled.
Also, the setting is laughably artificial. Geographically, Liliaria doesn’t make sense as a massive exporter of oil – I guess the author tosses it close to France because little girls like French boys? – and the whole place lacks a cohesive culture. The author seems to be making things up as she goes along: “French boys are hot… uh, William and Kate forever… poor Princess Di died in a tunnel… Sailor Moon, Moon Prism Power, Make Up!”
Suddenly Royal feels like some flimsily thrown-together half-baked effort to make little girls hoping to be princesses a little happier for a short while. They may also learn a thing or two about wet and distended body parts in the process, and we all have to start somewhere. There’s nothing with this, I suppose, but these days I’d rather go for fantasies where I’m the mistress of a harem full of hot guys instead of this sugary half-baked SUDDENLY HIS BALLS ARE SLAMMING AGAINST HER SWOLLEN MOUND OMG thing.