THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS is a romantic novel written by Hester Browne. Well, when I say romantic, I mean romantic. We have here everything what a woman's romantic heart desires.
Published earlier this year by Quercus publication, this novel earned some respect from various authors and magazines.
"Fun and flirty. " Glamour
"Deliciously addictive." Cosmopolitan
"You won't want to put this down." Chrissie Manby
"An absolute treat." Kate Harrison
"Tremendously funny, warm and entertaining." Fiona Walker
"Just perfect… you'll love this book." Jill Mansell
I have to be honest with my lovely readers, I only picked up this book in a local supermarket because I had to buy three books, otherwise I would miss out on a special offer. And since the day of the purchase, it's been sitting on my book shelf and I have been successfully avoiding it. Every time I've had an internal discussion about what to read next, this book was always left out.
But the time has come. I needed a little break from all the fantasy world for a little while (don't worry my friends of young adult genre - I will be back in a flash!). And my own writing needed a little bit of romantic inspiration. To be honest, from a romance point of my life, it is pretty dry!!! Like a desert in Africa.
Anyways, I was desperate to calm my melancholic romantic heart down, so I reached for this book. Might as well read it. I have been skeptical. The brief summary on the back of the book, didn't sell the story to me.
We are meeting two best friend Amy and Jo who are two single girls living in London! (Points for the story being based in England - my home.) Them two are housemates and best friends. Amy is a young garden designer with own company who works hard to find a place in the world. Jo is a posh girl, with down-to-earth attitude, who basically works as a project manager on building sites for many rich people. Basically, she bosses around the workers and builders. Jo is funny, smart, outgoing, social… Amy is the shy girl who likes to keep for herself. But what a best friend would Jo be, if she wouldn't try to set Amy up with her single male friends. And she is on the mission. She organises a party in their apartment. HEAVEN & HELL themed. (seriously, some of the costumes people come up with !!). And here Amy meets a guy who catches her eye. Leo Wolfsburg. He is gorgeous, rich, smart, successful. Every girl's dream. And he is a prince!!! Yes, you heard me correctly, he is a prince of Nirona (apparently a small island of the coast of Italy - a paradise for people who don't like paying taxes. Monaco's rival country!). And they fall in love…
Ok, I know, the story is pretty lame. A modern version of Cinderella based on Kate Middleton - The Duchess of Cambridge. A girl who got her fairytale ending.
But I was pleasantly surprised when I actually started to read the book.
The prologue was one of the most entertaining prologues I have ever read. Incredibly witty. It makes you laugh out loud while keeping it quite real. The funniest prologue I have had a pleasure to read so far. Very girly but also very smart.
But OH MY GOD!!! The name!! Seriously! If you want to become an international best-selling author, don't name your book THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS. It puts people off. Trust me. Every single girl-friend I told about the book, was sick in their imaginary sick buckets. Too cheesy. Too girly. Too much. Do better next time please.
I have really enjoyed AMY as a main character. A shy girl who was bullied at school with a family secret. She isn't a girl who you would find in a club being chatted by a guy. Amy actually needs to rehearse the full dialogue before she actually speaks to a guy. An extreme case of an extreme shyness. But she is a great garden designer with a fantastic talent and love for plants and flowers!! An opposite of me. I am the murderer of plants! (What !?! They don't scream when they are hungry or thirsty! How am I supposed to know that it's time to feed them AKA water them!). But I adore how much she loves her parents. What a wonderful friend is to Jo and how much she is prepared to change just to be with the man she loves.
Prince Charming, Leo, is truly a man of your dreams. Rich. Check. Hot to the trot. Check. Smart. Check. Funny. Check. Gorgeous. Check. Perfect manners. Check. A perfect gentleman. Double check. There is nothing wrong with that guy. Any girl in the world wouldn't mind the perks which comes with dating the royal highness. But he loves Amy the way she is. A normal working girl. One of us. He doesn't want her to change but he isn't the greatest help when it comes to Amy accommodating to the demands of his mother and sister.
Jo. The best friend. A girl with a taste for life. She is the popular girl in school who becomes your best friend. She brings out the best and the worst in you. But without her you would be lost. She is your anchor. Your soulmate. Your best friend. Always there to brighten up your darkest hour.
The joker of the story is Leo's brother Rolf. A heart, a soul and the body of every party in town. He falls for Jo, because she is the only one who say NO to him. But he isn't the most romantic guy in the world. To be honest, when the God was giving away the brain and the skill to make girls fall in love with you, Rolf got plenty on the looks, but none on the emotional IQ. Unless, you find Barry White's Greatest hits and £200 pound thongs a romantic gesture. You are so right for this guy.
Firstly, let me start with the wrong points. Name. Oh god. How much I hate the name. Too predictable story. You know what will happen from the start once you discover that Leo is a prince. And of course, you predict the happy ending. (SPOILER ALERT - not that you wouldn't work it out for yourself!). But I have to be honest. Yes, the story is lovely. We all grew up wanted to be Cinderella or the Sleeping Beauty, but let's keep it real. Chris Pine isn't going to fall head over heels for me. The world works a different way. So this book is a fairy tale for the women in unhappy marriages or the girls who had just been stood up or broken-hearted. It gives you hope. But unrealistic hope, unfortunately. But again, there is nothing wrong with dreaming. It happened to Kate Middleton. (I have all my fingers crossed to get Chris Pine at the end. I am a big dreamer myself.).
At some moments, it was too cheesy and too peaceful. I am sorry, but no real relationship is so damn peaceful all the time. No arguments. No cat fights. No standing your ground. Amy and Leo's relationship seemed to work like Ying Yang. Right balance.
Although, the prologue promised a very funny writing, which actually did happened, some places I found myself dozing off and wishing for the story to come to the end. It's a bit too overdone. And there isn't much happening.
But I did love that the main character is from our beloved Yorkshire. I loved that the whole story is an english story mostly based in London. It's very girly but also very witty. I found myself laughing out loud. There are so many references in the book, every girl can relate to. A week on a lactose free diet. Shopping in Harvey Nichols on a store credit card. Unflattering pictures which makes you look the size of an elephant even when you are size 10. Bloated eyes. Bloated tummy. Hangover mornings. You will find something you can relate to girlies. Trust me, princesses don't have it easy either.
I might have been a little bit strict in this review, but the truth is I did enjoy this book. It made me laugh out loud. It gave me a glimpse to the world of rich and famous and how much afford they have to put into looking fabulous all the time. I loved the dynamic between the two best friends who know each other like the back of their hands. And let's be honest, what a monster of girl I would be if I wouldn't enjoy a modern version of Cinderella???
So here is my verdict!! It's a lovely romantic story which will give you hope, but it's only a story. Not real life. But it will make you laugh so hard, that your belly will hurt.
Quotes for "The Runaway Princess" :
“I'm not that nice," I said. People were always telling me how nice I was. You'd think it would be a compliment, but it was amazing how sometimes it just felt like a kinder way of saying "blah." "I just keep my horrible side well hidden.”
"Like most little girls raised on a diet of glass slippers and royal weddings, I used to believe that princess were born, not made. I mean, that was the whole point, surely? You either had the tiara-wearing, crowd-charming, prince-captivating, good-deed-doing, swishy hair genes or you didn't. Even Cinderella - not the greatest prospect, on the face of it - had the Daintiest Feet in the Land as a big flashing sign, just in case we missed the gracious humility and dazzling beauty. "
"Once I'd got over the shock of discovering that princes do exist outside of Disney films, I realised very quickly that a girl isn't automatically transformed into a princess once he's wedged on the glass slipper. Oh no. No, that's just the start of it. What marks out a true princess is how she handles the bit that comes after Happily Ever After. And for that you need more than a set of hair extensions and ball gown that changes colour. You need to know exactly who you are, underneath that tiara. And you need to realise that princess, don't run away. Not even in glass slippers."