Kim’s Review of Once Upon A Prince (Royal Wedding #1) by Rachel Hauck

ouaprhLate last year I judged a book by its cover.  That book was The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck, and turned out to be a great introduction for me to Hauck’s writing.  When I heard about her new series, The Royal Wedding, I was really excited.  I LOVE everything to do with Kings & Queens, Princes & Princesses.  There is just something so regal and romantic about it all.  When I saw the first book Once Upon A Prince released on Netgalley, I knew I needed to request it and continue my obsession with all things royal.

Susanna Truitt never expected too much out of life.  She has led a simple life, devoted to her boyfriend Adam, whom she has loved for as long as she can remember.  Adam leaves to become a Marine and when he returns she expects a proposal, but instead she gets rejected.  Reeling from this loss, Susanna decides to go back to her roots on St. Simon’s island to rediscover herself.  A vacationer on the island is Prince Nathaniel of the European nation of Brighton.  Due to political pressure Nathaniel’s family has already chosen a wife for him, yet he is unsure of this turn of events.  Nathaniel sees Susanna for the first time as he comes to her aid under the Lover’s Oak on the island.  He is smitten by her, but bound by his duty to marry someone else.  Will he be able to follow what he believes is his heart’s true desire?  Will Susanna be able to find herself and love on St. Simon’s?

When I started reading Once Upon A Prince I was definitely intrigued.  My heart broke for Susanna as her boyfriend of 10+ years broke up with her (especially because she spent a good portion of that time waiting for him to return from deployment overseas.)  I could understand the quest she set out on, to re-evaluate her life, rediscover her faith, and to reaffirm who she was as a person.  The more of the book I read, however, the farther down the rabbit hole I felt I was falling.  A lot of things just didn’t make sense to me.

First and foremost was the entire entail storyline.  I was SO confused.  Who would lose what, who should marry who, for what reason…the entire thing had me spinning in circles.  Secondly, all the time that the Prince is with Susanna and she doesn’t realize who he is was a bit hard to believe.  Did no one wonder why he had a security detail with him?  Even if you didn’t think he was a Prince, wouldn’t you think he was a VIP of some sort?  Maybe in the business or political world? It was hard for me to believe that someone would meet him with his entourage and be okay with making him clean toilets.

Almost all of the secondary characters weren’t likable.  Prince Stephen, Queen Campbell, Jon, Susanna’s co-worker Gage…..there was just something about all of them that rubbed me the wrong way.  Especially Prince Stephen, Queen Campbell, and Jon.  The three of them are some of the closest people who Prince Nathaniel has in his life, yet none of them respect his feelings or wishes.  Prince Stephen and Queen Campbell even go so far as to set up an elaborate plan using Susanna in a very ill way.  They almost played out as the villains of the story, when clearly they aren’t meant to be.

My biggest problem however, was with the romance.  For the majority of the book Susanna and Nathaniel are apart.  If they were communicating during their periods of separation that would be one thing, but it was complete radio silence.  I’m not really sure how you can fall head over heels in love with someone without being with them and/or even kissing them!  I find it hard to believe that in year 2013 there are people who accept marriage proposals without ever having once kissed their proposed intended.  Maybe it’s just that I’m a forward thinking woman, but how can you tell if you even have chemistry with that person?  Sure, chemistry on an emotional level is important, but a physical connection is just as important.

Sadly this book did not live up to my expectations.  Although there were times which I enjoyed small aspects of the story, the reasons I listed above were too great to ignore.  However, if the summary speaks to you and you want to give it a try, be my guest!  Let me know what you think in the comments below.

2 out of 5 Stars

Once Upon A Prince by Rachel Hauck
Zondervan (2013)
Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN: 9780310315476

Special thanks to Zondervan for my review copy via Netgalley!

#124 A Review of The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

wedding-dress-250It’s probably the oldest maxim in the book: “don’t judge a book by its cover.”  Alas, I’ve done exactly that.  There I was, shopping at the Barnes and Noble Nook store, when I came upon The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck .  I thought it had quite an elegant cover, and seeing such a beautiful old wedding dress definitely caught my eye.  I hadn’t read anything by Hauck yet, but based on how enjoyable this novel was I can’t wait to dive in to some of her other works.

Charlotte is a happy owner of a bridal boutique in Birmingham, Alabama, who takes pride in her work and always tries to fit the perfect dress to every bride that walks through her door.  A bride-to-be herself, Charlotte is less than happy as her big day approaches, but she just can’t put a finger on why she feels distant from her fiance, Tim.  All this changes, however, when Charlotte finds an old wedding dress in a trunk at an estate sale.  The dress is in nearly perfect condition, and is quite old by the looks of it.  Additionally, she finds mysterious dog tags in a sachet contained within the trunk, adding to the mystery.  Intrigued, Charlotte decides to track down the history of the dress, and discovers that it has had three previous owners: Emily (1912), Mary Grace (1939), and Hillary (1968).  What she finds is more than a timeline, it’s a rich journey through different eras and into the lives of the woman who lived in them.  During this journey, Charlotte discovers just as much about herself as the three women who have come before her in owning the dress.  What will Charlotte do with the dress?  What will become of her rocky relationship with Tim?

As I stated before, I was definitely pleasantly surprised by The Wedding Dress.  I happen to be a bit of a stickler for storylines in general, and I can always tell when they don’t flow well or get too crossed to be able to follow clearly.  Fortunately this was not the case with Hauck’s work, and the different storylines merged seamlessly together to make an intriguing and engaging story that drew me in right from the beginning.  Similarly, the mystery surrounding the wedding dress itself was artfully told, and it unfolded at just the right pace to keep me turning the pages.  Hauck gave away just enough in the beginning to make the reader curious, but not enough to give away any of the dress’ secrets.  What eventually happens to Charlotte after uncovering the stories of all the woman who wore the dress before her was heartwarming and made me smile.  It was a great way to end such a heartfelt book.  If you’re in the mood for a fun read that has elements of mystery and historical fiction to it definitely check this one out!

4 out of 5 stars

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck
Nelson, Thomas, Inc. (2012)
eBook: 352 pages
ISBN: 9781595549631