This is the first time I’ve read books by this particular author, and I found her stories quite inspiring. The theme of ‘common’-girl-turns- princess has certainly been done before, but it satisfies the feminine (and, for all I know, the masculine) romantic soul. At once it adds the excitement of the unlikely, and satiates (or perhaps whets) one’s curiosity in regards to all things royal.
This particular series (to date) takes this theme one step further by adding deep spiritual angst and resolutions and a large dollop of Southern Charm. In this regard, the stories are quite similar and this is the reason I chose to write about them together. The plot lines were quite different (from one another) however, which provided sufficient variety. Of course, as there is a rather limited amount of European countries that currently have monarchies (and these are modern romances–think a more mature Princess Diaries), and those royal families would prefer not to have people make up romances about them–the countries portrayed in this novel are fictional. But the author did an excellent job making them so historical-sounding, with a believable culture and back story, that I found myself questioning my knowledge of European geography and checked online, just to be sure. These two novels are stand alone ones; but as in many excellent series, characters from the first come into contact with those in future novels providing a further perspective of the same characters.
I liked how the first novel especially dealt with the issue of control, the heroine realizing she wanted it and why, and the hero wishing he could give some of it away. I especially liked the sense of the nobleness of fulfilling a God-given duty that the author portrayed through both the hero and heroine. There was a lot of soul-searching and soul-finding–which deepened the drama, without making it overly dramatic.
The second had a lot of fictional, but believe-able, history, specifically touching on WWII issues in a sensitive way. I found the sense of history that the heroine got to appreciate in her own life greatly added to the story. The romance itself was a little stilted or in-congruent at times and I felt the ‘hero’s’ past was a little too easily dealt with (in regards to future romance).
All in all, I really enjoyed these books and was inspired to attempt writing my own novel along similar themes. It’s a lot harder than it looks! (Especially when trying to be as accurate as possible without risking censure from current royalty) I hope you’ll find some time to enjoy these ones, and I hope there will be at least one more in this series.
Thank you to Net Galley (https://www.netgalley.com) and Zondervan for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.