May Contain Spoilers
Donna Alward is a favorite of mine, so picking this up was a no-brainer. I read The Playboy Prince and the Nanny and enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to reading Raoul’s story. While I didn’t like him as much as younger brother, Diego, he slowly grew on me. Stephani I liked from the get go, but I wondered why she put of with some of Raoul’s nonsense.
Stephani is the Crown Prince’s PA, and she’s worked for him for ten years. Raoul was married to Stephani’s cousin, Ceci, and when she died tragically in a car accident, both she and Raoul were broken hearted. Raoul hasn’t moved on yet, and believes that inviting another woman into his life and the lives of his children would be disrespectful. He’s just not ready for another relationship, even though his family is pressuring him to move on with his life and find happiness again.
Stephani has been secretly in love with Raoul for years, even when Ceci was still alive. She carefully kept this secret, and never gave any indication that she had feelings for the Crown Prince. When he has too much to drink and kisses her, she’s hopeful that maybe he has some feelings for her, too. But when Raoul pretends that nothing happened between them, she realizes that she’s living a pipedream thinking that they could be a couple.
While I did enjoy this romance, it features one of my least favorite tropes. The sneaking around trope. I hate that. Literally hate it. I think it’s demeaning to both parties, and don’t see the need for it, unless one of the parties is cheating on someone else. (Okay, that would be my absolute most hated trope – cheating on your partner. Ugh.) I didn’t really see the need for it here. The power inequity between Raoul and Stephani didn’t sit well with me, but since she was looking for employment elsewhere, it didn’t bother me as much as the sneaking around. This worked better for me in the previous book.
The other niggle – Raoul was so wishy-washy. Yes, we have a chemistry and are attracted to each other and we should explore our feelings. No, it’s a mistake and I can’t have a relationship yet. Think of the kids. Ugh. Man up, dude, or just stop. Stop playing with poor Stephani’s feelings and making her think there is something there when you are too emotionally conflicted to see if there could be something there. After being so preachy with Diego, you’d think Raoul would have acted more like an adult here. It was fun to see Diego finally able to set him straight.
This is a quick read, with a low steam level. I read it on our recent vacation to Disney, and found it perfect for relaxing after spending all day wandering around the parks.
Grade: 3.75 stars
Review copy provided by publisher
About the book:
A Crown Prince gets a second chance at love with the woman who’s always been there – in the next book in the prince duology from Donna Alward!
The Crown Prince of Marazur is suffering from a broken heart. After losing his wife and future queen, he knows he’ll never find love again with a partner as wonderful as her. He’s thrown himself into his duties and is trying to be a better father to his two children, but he’s lonely. Even though falling in love seems impossible, so does spending the rest of his life alone.
Stephani has been Raoul’s assistant for years. Smart, loyal, and discreet, Stephani is fantastic at her job. Except for the fact that she’s been in love with her boss since her first week of employment, not that she would ever act on it. Besides, Raoul is first in line to the throne and she’s his assistant. If Raoul ever marries again, it’ll be with someone who can be a future queen. Not someone like Stephani.
When Raoul’s date for a state dinner is unable to attend, he invites Stephani. She’s well-versed on the issues and castle protocol, and Raoul’s always been comfortable with her. But when Stephani arrives, Raoul hardly recognizes her. Is this stunning woman the same one who’s run his office for years?
The Crown Prince’s Bride is the ultimate fairy tale for readers looking for Cinderella to get her prince—and be able to keep him past midnight.