Title: Playing the Palace
Author: Paul Rudnick
Publisher: Berkley/Penguin Random House
Length: 269 Pages
Category: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 Stars
At a Glance: What an absolutely funny, charming, warm and heartfelt lightning-strike of a love story Playing the Palace is. This book will undoubtedly go down as one of my favorite feel-good romances of the year.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: THEIR LOVE STORY CAPTIVATED THE WORLD…THE CROWN PRINCE AND THAT GUY FROM NEW YORK
After having his heart trampled on by his cheating ex, Carter Ogden is afraid love just isn’t in the cards for him. He still holds out hope in a tiny corner of his heart, but even in his wildest dreams he never thought he’d meet the Crown Prince of England, much less do a lot more with him. Yes, growing up he’d fantasized about the handsome, openly gay Prince Edgar, but who hadn’t? When they meet by chance at an event Carter’s boss is organizing, Carter’s sure he imagined all that sizzling chemistry. Or was it mutual?
This unlikely but meant-to-be romance sets off media fireworks on both sides of the Atlantic. With everyone having an opinion on their relationship and the intense pressure of being constantly in the spotlight, Carter finds ferocious obstacles to his Happily Ever After, including the tenacious disapproval of the Queen of England. Carter and Price Edgar fight for a happy ending to equal their glorious international beginning. It’s a match made on Valentine’s Day and in tabloid heaven.
Review: I love getting a book recommendation from friends and then adoring that book every bit as much as they did. That’s what happened with Paul Rudnick’s Playing the Palace (thanks to Joyfully Jay and Jeff Adams and the Big Gay Fiction Podcast). What an absolutely funny, charming, warm and heartfelt lightning-strike of a love story this is. It will undoubtedly go down as one of my favorite feel-good romances of the year.
I admit to being a bit fearful Playing the Palace would too closely resemble another particularly popular ‘English prince falls in love with an American commoner’ romance when I picked it up, a book I wasn’t quite as head over heels in love with as so many other lucky readers were, but it quickly became clear that Rudnick was going to deliver his own uniquely delightful Cinderfella sort of story full of characters who epitomize the essence of wacky and wonderful family and friends, and, of course, the utter intimidation of having a grandmother who happens to be the Queen of England can’t be understated. She’s not an evil queen by any stretch of the imagination, but she can sure be a little scary when she wants to be, and her rather insistent nature serves to underscore the pressures of duty and the impeccable character expected of the Crown Prince of a country that’s deeply steeped in royal tradition. Poor Prince Edgar is so ingrained in his inevitability that he won’t even allow himself to be happy. Not truly, freely, passionately happy, because trust is difficult to come by when you’re the heir to the throne and your entire life is lived in the uncharitable fishbowl of the press’s intense scrutiny and the public’s harsh judgement.
Carter Ogden is a New York commoner, by way of New Jersey, who’s pushing thirty, never had what anyone might define as a successful relationship (his most recent ex is entirely too ugh), he’s not on what anyone would define as a fast-track career path, and he’s certain he will never, ever find true and lasting love. It’s like he believes he repels happiness and fulfillment or something (he absolutely does believe that), so of course he unintentionally self-sabotages. Thank heavens for his sister Abby, who I adored beyond all reason, as well as his parents and his great-aunt Miriam, who poo-poo-poos away all that bad juju.
Of course, this wouldn’t be an authentic fairy tale romance without a poisoned . . . dessert (it’s not really poisoned) or an evil queen (okay, she’s the undisputed queen of must-watch morning talk shows, not actual royalty) to throw Edgar and Carter into a ratings grabber of a tailspin, but stronger than all the heartache and turmoil is the faith of everyone around them, both family and friends, that they are meant to be. I will always insist to anyone who cares to hear it that Abby and Miriam both Fairy-Godmothered Carter right into his happily ever after, but it’s ultimately the most romantic and courageous of all gestures that delivers them to their fabulous beginning.
If you’re looking for a book that’ll make your heart feel light, then heavy for just a bit, then happy again, and will tickle your funny bone more than a little along the way, that’s Playing the Palace in a nutshell.
You can buy Playing the Palace here:
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