Monday, December 31, 2012

Book Review - A Royal Pain by Megan Mulry

A life of royalty seems so attractive...until you're invited to live it...

Smart, ambitious, and career driven, Bronte Talbot started following British royalty in the gossip mags only to annoy her intellectual father. But her fascination has turned into a not-so-secret guilty pleasure. When she starts dating a charming British doctoral student, she teases him unmercifully about the latest scandals of his royal countrymen, only to find out—to her horror!!—that she's been having a fling with the nineteenth Duke of Northrop, and now he wants to make her...a duchess?

In spite of her frivolous passion for all things royal, Bronte isn't at all sure she wants the reality. Is becoming royalty every American woman's secret dream, or is it a nightmare of disapproving dowagers, paparazzi, stiff-upper-lip tea parties, and over-the-top hats?

*          *          *

As a bit of an Anglophile, I’ve enjoyed watching the British royalty over the years.  I suppose it started as a child when my father woke me up in the wee hours of the morning to watch Charles and Diana’s wedding.  I think I started planning my own nuptials and thinking of dress preferences that very day.  The princess’s death was a shocking tragedy, with newspaper headlines I’ll never forget.  I watched with joy when William and Kate were married recently, and I once again gave up some sleep to take in the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony.  And if you visit The Calico Critic even occasionally, you’ll see that I have a strong preference for books related to English Jane Austen and her novels.

Megan Mulry’s modern novel A Royal Pain intrigued me when I learned of the concept—common American girl, Bronte Talbot, falls for an English noble, Maxwell Fitzwilliam-Heyworth, next in line to become the 19th Duke of Northrop.  Many young women could only dream of a romance like this!  Talk about a Cinderella story!  I looked forward to a fun, light read and a bit of escapism.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t as thorough as I should have been when vetting this title for review.  I clearly missed the phrasing “Filled with…witty banter and steamy sex…” in the book’s description.  Had I paid closer attention to this detail, I probably would have passed on reading this title.  While there isn’t much of it in the second half of the book, graphic sex scenes are common in the first half.  Another concern came in the almost-ridiculous use of the f-word by the main character, Bronte.  This use of language does make it clear that she’s a common, unrefined foil to her love interest, but she planted so many f-bombs at such a rapid fire rate, it became almost laughable.  Maybe that was Mulry’s intent in her writing. Regardless, I didn’t care for it.  I was grateful when this colorful talk eased up in the second half of the novel.

Putting the adult content aside, A Royal Pain is a moderately interesting tale.  The main story line is fairly predictable, with Max initially concealing his identity, and then later we have uncomfortable scenes between Bronte and Max’s family that require Bronte to trust in herself and the security of her relationship with him. Bronte also has to adapt to her appearance in tabloid publications and accepting a new lavish lifestyle. Some of it is fun and whimsical, a fantasy situation that many women would love to have.

A significant portion of the story also focuses on Bronte’s family life, her relationship with her parents and how that was impacting her as a woman. This vein was very well written, and it almost seemed like a separate story altogether. But Bronte’s struggles with her family help inform the reader in regard to her quirks and why she has trouble committing to Maxwell as times.

I can’t say I would offer a hearty recommendation to A Royal Pain. However, if you aren’t queasy with adult content and are also an Anglophile like myself, you may enjoy this light novel.  I love Cinderella stories, and this certainly is one. It just has more “common” content than “royal” material than I would have liked.

Paperback Version                               Kindle Version

If you'd like to give A Royal Pain a try, I'd be happy to send my copy to you at no charge, as long as you can cover the cost of shipping.
And as it's an uncorrected advance copy, please understand that it should never be sold.
Just contact me if you're interested.  
This paragraph will be removed when I have a response to this offer.


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