Avon, $5.99, ISBN 978-0-06-231747-6
Contemporary Romance, 2014
Is this book some kind of new adult thing? There is something about this story that feels like it’s catered to the same demographic that self-diagnose themselves with at least three psychological or physical handicaps and claim to be oppressed by the establishment because they are stressed out by too many first world problems. There’s a princess heroine who spends the entire story lamenting the pain of having to be what she is and to live under public scrutiny all the time, after all. Since she didn’t die in a tunnel with her lover or anything, though, excuse me if I’m not straddling a piano and wailing about her poor wilted wrinkled rose anytime soon.
In Recklessly Royal, we meet Catherine D’Lynsal, whose brother is married to some floozy (read all about it in the previous book Suddenly Royal). In this story, she struggles with the fact that she has to help with the wedding – it’s so hard – and handle human resource issues like finding a PA – how painful – and having to deal with her developing relationship with David Rhodes. The last is very hard because the media is always hounding them for pictures and video clip materials, and poor Catherine knows that David can’t enjoy the whole thing. She certainly doesn’t! Life as a princess is so melodramatically problematic – how can anyone bear to be one?
Narrated entirely from Catherine’s first person point of view, this story offers a very limited look into David, but maybe I’m not supposed to care. Like the heroes of many new adult stories, he’s the designated peen that will validate the heroine’s existence by showering that special creature with all the TLC she deserves. Catherine, surprisingly, is quite the bearable heroine considering that the whole story tries to turn her mundane first world problems – problems rarely encountered by the majority of folks in first world countries, mind you – into something that I should care about, and it takes a very idealistic reader to sympathize with her “lot” in life. I think I’m too old for such stories, because I can’t care less about her “problems”. I mean, if she finds her life so hard, she can always work for minimum wage as a waitress in a dead end bar. Hey, she can even move in to a low rent apartment and let me stay at her place!
Still, the fact that the story is a forgettable effort at making mountains out of molehills is the least of the problems here. The whole story feels utterly artificial, like the author got all her insight on princess blues from books by Meg Cabot and newspaper clippings on the sad members of the Monaco royalty. There is nothing deep or insightful on what it’s like to be a princess here. Everything’s superficial and banal. Oh, doing charity and hee-hee-hee, somebody’s always watching me, that kind of thing. The author tries hard to make Catherine “nice” by normalizing her – Catherine eats pizzas in cafeterias, isn’t that sweet? – but ends up making the poor dear a predictable cliché all the same. Catherine as a princess is as believable as me forcing myself into a one-piece and insisting that I am Rihanna.
Worse, this story is as hip as the ilium of a stegosaurus. Catherine, for a young lady, is like an eighty-year old lady desperately pretending that she is at least 60 years younger but not knowing to do it properly. She is so shocked that other girls her age sleep with hot guys – the guys she meets make her “want to puke” (her own words) – or wear sexy dresses with low-cut cleavage. The “good people” in her circle are laughably un-cool. At a stag party, they dance with boas and do the YMCA. I try to tell myself that maybe this country is like Germany – David Hasselhoff is big there, no? – and they like cheese like nobody’s business, but still, come on. YMCA? In a non-ironic manner? Today? And then these kids are using words like “bird crap” and “puke” in a manner that feels more at home in young kids a few decades ago. They make the morons in that horrible song and video #Selfie look like modern day examples of sterling sociological authenticity.
The best thing I can say about Recklessly Royal is that it is readable, and that it is surprisingly non-annoying for a story with such a premise. The whole thing feels more fake than Robin Thicke’s apology to his missus, however, and its efforts to sound hip and young make me cringe in secondhand embarrassment.