Monday, November 13, 2017

Review: Royally Wed by Teri Wilson

I was 10 when Charles and Diana married in what was billed as a fairy tale wedding. We were awake at a ridiculous hour gathered around a television set holding plates from high tea in our laps as we watched the prince marry his princess. Leaving aside that this was real life and not a fairy tale, as future years would surely prove, it was a magical event and one I remember fondly. Thirty years later, while wearing a plastic tiara and noshing on delicate British snacks, I sat with friends and watched William and Catherine marry. Another stately, beautiful, and yes, magical royal wedding. Although I was in good company for both of these events, I do admit that even on a regular day, I have a bit of a soft spot for the British royals so I was more than happy to get my hands on Teri Wilson's Royally Wed, a short contemporary romance about a royal wedding, a princess, a Duke who may be hiding something, a gorgeous American, blackmail, and infidelity.

Asher Reed is having a bit of a rough time of it. A professional cellist, he has been invited to play a difficult solo at the wedding of the century after Yo-Yo Ma falls ill and has to cancel. The problem is that as a last minute substitution, he has no hotel room and hasn't practiced at all. The Queen installs him in Buckingham Palace, in The Blue Room, a room in Princess Amelia's suite of rooms and he is given access to St. Paul's after hours his first evening in London. He is affected by the gorgeous cathedral and the famous buried there, playing a hauntingly beautiful piece. It's the first piece he's played since his former fiancee dumped him for his mentor and Maestro.  That both his former fiancee and his Maestro are also in London to perform for the wedding is not making things easy for him.  Princess Amelia is also in St. Paul's, weeping over her upcoming marriage, not exactly the picture of a bride in love and eager for her wedding. And she's not that bride; this wedding is an arranged one to the father of Amelia's best friend. She isn't overjoyed to be marrying Duke Holden but she is trying desperately to live down the nickname of Princess Naughty and do what her family needs her to do. But she and Asher have an instant attraction and their close proximity and an incorrigible corgi named Willow conspire to throw them together, fanning the flames of desire in the mere 10 days before the wedding.

While this is the third book in the series, it easily stands on its own. Princess Amelia is both a sad and an appealing main character. She is clearly torn between her duty to her family and what she really wants, even before Asher enters the picture. For having a reputation as a bit of a bad girl, she is surprisingly naive about what marriage will require of her (yes, you'll have to kiss your husband and sleep with him too!) but when she is with Asher, she doesn't seem to be that completely innocent naif which makes for a bit of a strange dichotomy in her character. Wilson has done a nice job drawing the princess as having both a public and a private persona as well as how lonely it must be to have to be on guard all the time. Asher is a character to sympathize with, torn apart by circumstance, cheated on by his fiancee and the man who meant the world to him, now feeling as if his music has left him, unable to work through stage fright and play to his potential, and falling for a princess set to marry another man in mere days. The only other characters who are in the book for any meaningful span of time are Willow the corgi and James, seemingly the only attendant in the entirety of Buckingham Palace. This makes the book fly past at break neck speed, with only one real plot line. There are some fun nods to Charles and Diana's wedding and relationship that even casual royal watchers should pick up on sprinkled in the book (and in fact one of them makes for a rather pivotal plot point). Anglophiles, contemporary romance fans, and little girls who wanted to grow up to be princesses will enjoy this light and easy tale and may want to search out Royal Wedding with Fred Astaire and Jane Powell, the movie that served as inspiration for this breezy, quick read.

Thanks to Melissa at Pocket Books for sending me a copy of this book to review.

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