A Thoroughly Modern Princess
by Wendy Corsi Staub, contemporary (2003)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-82054-4

If this is Wendy Corsi Staub's apology for her unpalatable The Nine Month Plan (written under the name Wendy Markham), it is a pretty good one. There is nothing remotely modern about the heroine Princess Emmaline of A Thoroughly Modern Princess and this book is a Surprise Baby book, but still, it's a pleasant and inoffensive read.

Like every other princess in romance novels, Emmaline is an American egalitarian masquerading as an European royalist. This morality-tale-waiting-to-happen is trapped by her life in the gilded cage, et cetera, so much so that she had a fling with American very rich hunk Granger Locklear IV when he dropped by Verdunia for some business. Now, she is about to marry Prince Remi of Buiron, but guess what, people? Our princess is pregnant with Granger's baby.

Granger is surprised when Emmaline calls him to come help her flee to America where she intends to sort out what she wants to do with her life, and not knowing of her pregnancy, he agrees. When she springs the baby surprise on him, they will have to figure out how to deal with the complications that will arise. Actually, it's not too much of a complication as every potential problem in this story is neatly resolved in a very convenient manner. In the meantime, the story is basically Granger moping about his need to be free and Emmaline's magnanimous agreement that he needs to be free.

Frankly, if you ask me, Emmaline is being way too "understanding" where Granger is concerned. It is ridiculous that she will so willingly agree to be a single mother and let Granger walk away to be a free man. Granger, at least, is honest in his reaction: he is not prepared to give up his bachelor lifestyle and he is upfront about it. I like that, but soon I wish he'd just grow up, embrace responsibility, and be a man about it. He does get there eventually, but he does it on his own - Emmaline is a spineless sort that gives him too much space and freedom to act like a kid.

Still, both of them have decent chemistry and there is nothing objectionable about them, their relationship, or their story. For a princess from a sophisticated royal family, Emmaline is bewilderingly out-of-touch with modern American culture (is it possible for any rich member of the royalty be this isolated from the world... hmm, but then again, any book that stars Emmaline and still calls itself A Thoroughly Modern Princess can't hold itself accountable to logic, I guess), but her acclimatizion to the world of daytime soap opera and tabloids is amusing and even ironic at times.

With a familiar playboy hero and an equally familiar innocent but pregnant heroine, this story is a pleasant, middling story. It's not too original, but the characters are likeable enough in their stereotypical ways, neuroses and contrivances and all, and the writing is clean and readable. This book won't be the book of the year or even close to being one, but it's far from the worst either. Fans of the idealized royalty romances may want to give this book a look or two.

Rating: 77

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