When choosing to read this book, I believed that such a well-trod YA trope (normal girl meets Prince and falls in love) would not have been published without some kind of charm or angle to make it unique. Sadly, I was wrong. This is a generic, pointless, vapid retread that the author has distilled to appeal to the absolute lowest common denominator tween girl. There’s nothing original, intelligent, charming, or even fun in this story.
Story: Prince Nikolai grows tired of being a prince of “Moldova” and runs away on a European jaunt. In Budapest, he meets an American girl, Becca, who is on vacation with her family. He follows her like a crazy stalker across various European locales, insta luv ensues, his family and the paparazzi find him and drag him back to responsibility, and Becca mopes and harangues about how annoying it is to have to see European culture.
I am greatly impressed, though, at how the author has deftly given us probably the most unlikeable and unrealistic characters ever to disgrace print (or kindle, in my case). Becca spends most of the book insulting or being disgusted with her parents or European history. Yes, she has a tough life with her rich daddy and new stepmom, who is trying her best to give Becca and her perpetually-horny brother a great experience. Her brother spends the entire book hitting on girls and both of them either ignore, insult, or disregard the cardboard figures…er parents. Nikolai is a purse – he’s there to make Becca look good and that’s about the extent of his personality. He sees her, falls insta luv, and for the life of any reader, none of us can see any reason why whatsoever. She mopes, she sulks, she isn’t adventurous, heck, she can’t even figure out maps or directions.
About half way through the book, I soon realized that this is just a very oversimplified teen wish fantasy – a Big Mac for those who could have had a steak instead. Honestly, I very rarely pan a book and typically can find some redeeming qualities. But this was pure and utter drivel – and not even original drivel at that.
So yes, let’s travel to all those amazing European cities so we can have Becca whine about how boring and backwards Europe is and her brother can work some STD’s through the populace. Oh, and the prince can use his motorcycle to chase her boat along the Danube to various cities and stalk her like a psycho. Intelligence among characters is clearly overrated and might alienate less discerning (read: half a brain) tweens.
There’s also very lazy writing in here. Things like having a Prince in Europe who is descended from British royalty yet speaks American English, not British. Or that said Prince decided to go to the city of Melk randomly because ‘his parents took him there one day’ yet when showing Becca around the abbey there, says he wrote a whole term paper on it for college (you’d think someone who wrote a term paper on a building in Melk might consider that a neat place to go, rather than because his parents took him there once?). Even worse, rich and priveleged Becca, whining about her horrible vacation, and then going into a church with gold everywhere and wondering if the peasants would have rather used the gold for food instead. Really?
There are coincidences enough in this book to make a reader slap forehead and exclaim loudly, “deus ex machina!” or “Mary Sue!” I can’t believe that with all those amazing European destinations, the author couldn’t find a way to make them interesting and instead the couple has to go out to a lake in order to be impressed.
So yes, this is a harsh review. I’d rather watch Julia stiles in the Prince and Me, Hathaway in the Princess Diaries, or any other number of “American commoner meets a prince” type of movies/stories than this lifeless heap of words.
Reviewed from an ARC and I want those two hours back.