19 June 2013

Book Review: The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne

"Amy Wilde is tired of the idiots her glamorous flatmate Jo tries to set her up with - she'd much rather be landscaping a garden with her dog Badger at her side than trying to find the man of her dreams. That is, until she meets Leo Wolfsburg. Handsome, polite, funny, intriguing - Leo is everything Amy could want in a man. Best of all, the attraction seems mutual.

But Leo's lifestyle is a world away from her own. Private planes, charity balls, exclusive members' clubs - Amy begins to realise that her simple existence has been turned upside down. And just where is Leo's home country of Nirona, anyway? Is this all too good to be true?"

Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy The Runaway Princess as a paperback or an eBook now.

I was really excited to see that Hester Browne is with a new publisher, Quercus, and a new look for her books too. Hester's new book, The Runaway Princess, has a gorgeous floral cover that is certainly eye-catching and stands out from any other book on the shelf that I have seen before. I liked the idea of the story as well - ordinary girl meets a handsome prince and the pair fall madly in love despite their different lifestyles. The story reminded me of Sophie Page's 2011 book 'To Marry A Prince' which was released to coincide with the Royal Wedding. However, I liked the strong female lead character in this book, and despite it being quite long at just over 500 pages, it was a really enjoyable read.

Amy Wilde is a gardener, and she really loves her job. She lives with her mad flatmate Jo, a woman of wealthy means, whereas Amy scrapes by with her business together with Toby. When they throw a party at their London flat one night, Amy gets talking to a handsome stranger, and the two click together easily. Jo finally reveals to Amy that her handsome stranger is in fact a handsome prince... Prince Leo Wolfsburg of Nirona to be precise. The pair begin to date, but Amy soon realises that their lives are worlds apart, and she struggles to cope with the demands of Leo's high profile life and everything it entails. Will Amy be able to overcome her fears of Leo's life, or will spend the end of their happy ever after?

I will be honest and say at the start, I found it to be a little slow and I was struggling to get into it. I decided to carry on reading because I had heard such good things about it, so I was hoping it would pick up and draw me in like I hoped it would. Luckily, my perseverance paid off, and soon I began to get involved in Amy's story, and started to warm to the other characters too. Amy is the lead character, the one we follow throughout the book, and the one the whole story hinges on really. I really liked her, she's a hard-worker, determined to make it on her own, and is a little bit naive about her relationship with Leo until quite a way in, which I found quite sweet. She just wanted to be a woman in love with a man, ignoring all the other circumstances, and I liked how hard she tried to make that happen.

Prince Leo himself was a wonderful character, treated Amy like a real princess, and was the perfect male hero! You could see he did his best by her despite how different their lives were, and I liked that he was willing to stand up to his family for the sake of his girlfriend. Browne writes them as almost the perfect couple, so you can't help but will them through to the end. Jo, Amy's flatmate added some real humour into the story, and I loved the scenes with her in, she sounded like a great, fun person to live with! I loved the descriptions in the book too, for me they made it come alive and everything from their flat to Amy's gardens and plants that she deals with were vivid in my mind as I was reading. The way Browne writes about London makes it sound so amazing, and the island of Nirona was so beautifully described, I wished it were real! Even the castle building sounded wonderful and opulent, Browne certainly has a knack for making things seem amazing!

Although the main story was the one involving Leo and Amy's romance, and the madness that is Prince Leo's life, there was also a bit of a mystery running right through the book. It was involving Amy's family and their past, but we aren't told for a long while exactly what happened. It's hinted at throughout the book, the effect on Amy and her parents is quite blatant, especially her poor mother, and I have to admit it really did have me curious because I was desperate to know what the secret was and why it had affected the Wilde's so much. I loved that Browne was able to keep it a mystery, and how it all came out in the end was great to read and very enjoyable. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I loved the cast of characters. It's really an proper love story, about love overcoming the odds, and Amy and Leo are one couple you really end up rooting for. Browne's writing was easy to read, and really got me into the story, especially with her descriptions of Nirona, London and Amy's wonderful gardens. It's a joy to read, and I'd definitely recommend it.

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