Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne

I really enjoyed this book. Amy, a Yorkshire girl, lives in London.  She is a garden designer. She is shy and uncomfortable in crowds. Amy and Jo throw a party at their apartment. Rolf crashes the party and makes a fool of himself. He goes on the balcony and ruins the potted plants that Amy has out there.  They were special plants for one of her clients.  Rolf's friend, Leo apologizes for Rolf.  A few days later he calls Amy and gets her new plants to replace the ones that Rolf ruined.
Amy and Leo start dating.  Then she finds out that he is Rolf's brother AND they are princes.  Amy starts having second thoughts about seeing Leo.  She really likes him and feels that there is more to it.  Will they fall in love and live happily ever after?

Synopsis from the author's site:
If Amy Wilde’s new boyfriend, Leo, treats her like a queen, that’s because he’s secretly a prince himself: Leopold William Victor Wolfsburg of Nirona, the ninth most eligible royal bachelor in the world. Amy soon discovers that dating an heir to a throne has many charms—intimate dinners, glittering galas, and a dazzling new wardrobe with tiaras to match. But there are also drawbacks: imagine the anxiety of meeting your boyfriend’s parents multiplied by “riding in a private jet,” “staying in a castle,” and “discussing the line of succession over lunch.” Not to mention the sudden press interest in your very un-royal family. Amy would do anything for Leo, but is finding her Prince Charming worth the price of losing herself?



“Imagine I’m Max Barclay,” said Jo. “I’ve just got you a drink. I’m coming over to have an uncomplicated, no-pressure party chat with you.”

To make it more real, she began to swagger across the balcony toward me as if wearing a pair of invisible leather chaps, a takeaway cup of coffee standing in for the cheap white wine.

“Well, if it isn’t the lovely Amy Wilde, Chelsea’s very own Queen of Spades,” she drawled in Max’s confident Sloane-y tones. “Hoe’s it hanging, Amy? Ha-ha.”

Then she did a startling impression of Max’s wink, and paused for me to respond, as rehearsed. Right on cue, my brain emptied of all thoughts, leaving only a faint background buzz of panic, and the sinking knowledge that I was about to say something stupid. I always did. That was why I spent 90 percent of all parties in the kitchen by the sausage rolls.

I groaned inwardly. I wasn’t even at the party yet. We weren’t even in a room. I couldn’t even claim Jo had Max Barclay’s disconcerting Roman nose to put me off. This party would be the third time Jo had tried to matchmake me with Max, and on both previous occasions the famous Barclay nose had robbed me of all coherent thought; it was supposed to “prove” some familial indiscretion with the Duke of Wellington but all my brain could see was a golden eagle in red trousers. I’d virtually had to hold my jaw shut to stop myself mentioning it, which hadn’t exactly made for sparkling conversation.

I took a deep breath and made an effort to remember the inoffensive conversational underhand serves we’d been practicing. There were some advantages to sharing a flat with the woman who put the art into party. Jo put lots of other things into parties too, like vodka melon pops and undetectable guest-mingling, but for the last year or so her considerable attentions had been focused on coaching me out of what she called my “party paralysis.”

“Um . . .”

“No!” Jo dropped Max’s swagger and pointed at me. “That’s where you always go wrong. Stop thinking about what you shouldn’t say and let the conversation flow.” She made a graceful gesture with her free hand. “Let the inoffensive small talk about the weather and the shooting and what you got for Christmas ripple forth until you find a mutually interesting topic—”

“Jo, I keep telling you—I’m from Yorkshire,” I interrupted. “We don’t do small talk in Yorkshire. We don’t do any talk, if we can help it. Our menfolk play cricket, a game conducted in respectful silence by both spectators and players, and our womenfolk hold entire conversations using only their eyebrows and their bosoms. If in doubt, say nowt. It’s practically the county motto.”

“But how do you meet anyone?” Jo looked bewildered. The concept of not talking for more than ten seconds was something she found incomprehensible; she was constantly yakking away on the phone at home, even while she was in the bath, usually to someone called Tilly, Milly, or Lily. Sometimes Billy.

“We move to London. Can I have that coffee now, please?” I asked, holding out a hand. I’d been digging flowerbeds over since 9 a.m.; I needed the caffeine.

Jo lifted it just out of my grasp and raised her eyebrows expectantly, so I sighed, and delivered the line she wanted. “Everything in the garden’s rosy, Max, thanks for asking.”

She handed over the cappuccino with a proud smile. “See? You’re funny. You just need a prompt.”

“I have one. It’s called standing in the kitchen asking people what they’d like to drink. It’s been working for me for years.”

“You are not spending another party lurking around in there with the dishcloths and vol-au-vents. I want you out in the action. Mingling. Meeting people. Showing them the light you keep hiding under that portable bushel of yours.”

“You want me to show them my bushel now?”

Jo ignored that, and pounced on another hot topic while I was busy sugaring my coffee. “Now, do you need any help with your costume? The brilliant thing about a heaven and hell theme is that it gives everyone enough scope to come up with something flattering or icebreaking or even—”

“Yes, I’ve been thinking about that,” I said swiftly. “Why don’t I go as a mime artist? They’re pretty hellish. Or Ted suggested that he and I could go as a pantomime horse; then you wouldn’t have to worry about either of us putting our feet in it. We could just do party chitchat by fluttering our eyelashes. Or nodding our horsey head.”
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Pages: 431
Published: 2012

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