REVIEW: How (not) To Date A Prince – Zoe May

How not to date a prince

Author: Zoe May (website / twitter)

UK Publisher: HQ Digital

Genre: Romance, contemporary fiction

Buy Now: ebook

After being jilted at the altar, high-flying journalist Sam doesn’t believe in love any more – and she certainly doesn’t believe in fairy tales! So, when she’s asked to cover the Royal Wedding, it’s the lastthing she wants to do.

And when she crashes into a ridiculously handsome stranger, Anders, things go from bad to worse. But as the big day draws closer, Sam finds herself being swept up in the excitement – as well as swept off her feet by Anders!

But there’s something that Anders is hiding from her – and when he finally reveals his secret, might Sam just have the happy-ever-after she never thought she wanted…?

I am a real sucker for romance, and particularly the glamour of a bit of romance with the aristocracy. Rags to riches, etc. etc. That’s why I read a lot of Georgette Heyer. Perhaps Pride and Prejudice was more formative than I thought. (Ten THOUSAND a YEAR!)

This was an impulse buy after it popped up on my twitter timeline for 99p, discounted for the Royal Wedding, and as I was imminently leaving for my holiday it seemed like the perfect accompaniment. It was… an imperfect book. Whilst I could trot nicely through it, there were so many little niggles which were thrown up as I read it, it left me feeling generally dissatisfied.

The story follows Sam, a high flying investigative journalist who focuses on politics for her newspaper. Except, she is put in charge of reporting on the wedding of Prince Isaac of Norway to Holly – the pretty, popular TV presenter who has charmed Britain because of her humble upbringing. But Sam hates weddings, because her fiancé left her at the altar, and she is a hard-hitting political journalist, so this is entirely the wrong fit. But then she meets the handsome Anders in the lift, who says he is reporting on the wedding for the other newspaper in the building, and suddenly it’s not such a bad job after all. Anders is a very odd journalist, but he’s a very hot prospect.

Plot twist! He’s Prince Isaac’s brother. I can’t say this counts as a spoiler, it seems patently obvious from the beginning, but somehow the hotshot investigative reporter doesn’t twig that there’s anything particularly fishy going on with Anders, even as he gets exclusive visits with all the vendors (all impeccably timed for during press events), private dinners, and never writes a single article. The last is excused because the paper he writes for is a serious broadsheet that doesn’t include author profiles with articles – but you’d think they’d include names.

I can forgive a political reporter not knowing what the royal families of Europe look like. I can believe somewhat less that this allegedly incredible reporter (nominated for awards!) doesn’t immediately google the entire Norwegian royal family the minute she gets put on the story. It seems like very basic research. And this is perhaps where the main issue I had with the book came in – there was no conviction to Sam’s character. She continued to tell us she was politically minded, that she hated weddings, that she was career-driven, but actually you saw very little evidence of her political interests, except for continual and forced mentions, and once she was placed on the story suddenly all her issues with weddings flew out the window with nary a second glance.  For all she mocked the other royal correspondents, she showed herself to continually be a bit dense and swept up in the glamour herself. The political background seemed entirely to be added so we knew she was a Sensible and Intelligent woman, not out to snare a man. Which would be fine, except she wasn’t written that way.

Another thing which bothered me was the fact that Sam happened to be from the same place as Holly, which gave them an instant connection. This is perhaps not beyond the bounds of reason if you were working on a large city, or a county. But they were both from Otley, which is fairly small and in West Yorkshire. It’s very pretty, I have a friend who lives there, but the odds of both girls of the same age from the same small town (population 13,668 in 2011) ending up first in London, and then in relationships with members of the same foreign royal family, it starts to stretch the edges of coincidence. And then, by the end of it, we find ourselves crossing into issues with Royal behaviour (I don’t think a prince would be permitted to skip out on his brother’s wedding to bail someone out of jail personally, surely he’d just send staff) and also with Norwegian police practices – Sam ends up in a mixed gender group holding cell, after she behaves like a lunatic and leaps the barrier at the royal wedding to go talk to Anders. This seems unlikely, and more based on what has been seen on American television shows than indicative of actual research into what Norwegian police would actually do when they book someone for being a public nuisance.

It was sweet and cute, but for me there was too little character or consideration for the grounding details to make it believable.

Briefly:

  • Fluffy, light romance if you want to switch your brain off.
  • For me there was too little consistency of character or character development to really feel invested, and so many small inconsistencies or strange things which drew me out of the story.
  • There were also a number of background romances which were barely mentioned but felt crowbarred in and contrived, including one that was perhaps supposed to suggest a love triangle which never got more than a passing mention, so what was the point in including it?
  • The author gets props for going for one of the Scandinavian royal families, because the royals there are really rather attractive, but I find it strange that, even with a Brit marrying the Royal, the national fervour is as high as it is. I also find it odd that all the vendors are willing to reveal everything to reporters before the day, from the menu, to the flowers and cake, even the shoes and wedding dress.

Rating: 2/5 – it wasn’t unreadable, but it was too silly for me to really recommend.

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