Review: Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm



Rating: stars
Release Date: December 19, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Genre: young adult contemporary holiday romance
Format/Source: ARC, Baker & Taylor ARC program
Status: standalone


Summary:
Someday I want to live in a place where I never hear “You’re Dusty’s sister?” ever again.

Life is real enough for Dylan—especially as the ordinary younger sister of Dusty, former Miss Mississippi and the most perfect, popular girl in Tupelo. But when Dusty wins the hand of the handsome Scottish laird-to-be Ronan on the TRC television network’s crown jewel, Prince in Disguise, Dylan has to face a different kind of reality: reality TV.


As the camera crew whisks them off to Scotland to film the lead-up to the wedding, camera-shy Dylan is front and center as Dusty’s maid of honor. The producers are full of surprises—including old family secrets, long-lost relatives, and a hostile future mother-in-law who thinks Dusty and Dylan’s family isn’t good enough for her only son. At least there’s Jamie, an adorably bookish groomsman who might just be the perfect antidote to all Dylan’s stress . . . if she just can keep TRC from turning her into the next reality show sensation.

Review:
Remember my discussion on fluffy books back in October? Prince in Disguise has earned itself a spot on my fluffy recommendations list! *clutches heart* What is Prince in Disguise all about? Here's a 2 second recap:

As one reply noted, this book hit ALL my buzz words. I have longed for an increase in fun holiday novels for YEARS. You can't browse an adult romance shelf in any library or bookstore without discovering 50,000 holiday romance books, but for some reason, this is not a thing in YA. I mean, we've got Dash and Lily, My True Love Gave to Me, Let It Snow, and a few others, but they're not super common (which makes it difficult to do winter displays at the library, pubs. Get on it). Prince in Disguise to the rescue! Honestly, I had no immediate plans to read it, but while reading a murder mystery that I was having trouble getting into, I walked to my shelves and grabbed Prince in Disguise and My New Crush Gave to Me. After a round of eeny-meeny, Prince in Disguise was the winner. Without consciously realizing it, I'd picked the exact book that I needed, and I finished it in two days (and it was only two days because of pesky nonsense like work and errands and adulting).

Prince in Disguise is the first of Stephanie's books that I've ever read, but after spending 300 glorious pages giggling, let me assure you, this will not be the last. I think it's really easy for most people to be funnier in person, but it's more difficult to be funny in writing because seriously, how do you write a joke without it feeling entirely contrived? So I appreciate a book that can actually, genuinely make me laugh out loud. In particular, I loved Jamie's made up novels. I don't want to spoil them here, but they made me laugh so hard, and honestly, I'd totally read them! Prince in Disguise is perfectly bookish. In addition to dreaming up fake stories with absurd titles, Jamie basically spends the whole book making literary references to everything from Russian lit to Harry Potter, Shakespeare to Emily Dickinson. Like humor, references to pop culture outside of the book can feel really forced. Specifically, these references can jar a reader out of the story while simultaneously dating the book severely. I loved Queens of Geek, but the quote game that Taylor and Queens of Geek Jamie distracted more than it provided characterization. But I found Jamie's references charming and helpful in building his character. It makes sense that he would have a vast knowledge of different kinds of literature as he's shy and doesn't have a lot of friends. Plus, the classic references don't age a book as badly as modern references do.

Secondly, on Twitter, I coined the term snowoony for this book because it is super swoony in the snow, and I feel like we need a word for that the same way German has those super specific words for things like kopfkino (playing out a scene in your head) and weltschmerz. Ironically, the German word gemütlichkeit is like... extreme cuddling and feeling cozy, and that perfectly describes how this book made me feel. But I still want a word that means romance in the snow so: snowoony. It's gonna be a thing.


But seriously: there is kissing in the snow, a sleigh ride, ice skating, horseback riding in the snow, barn kisses, secret tunnels in an mf-ing castle in Scotland, and equally adorkable southern girl and British boy. This whole story was made for swooning and dreamy sighs.

I also loved the relationships between Dylan, her sister Dusty, and their mom and how those relationships evolved. I love my mom and my sister, but we all have very complex relationships with one another individually and as a whole. I love when a book really explores those nuances of female family relationships.

Okay, overall I loved this book, but I do have a couple of small meh things. I didn't really love Heaven's role in the book; since Dylan is so focused on her sister's wedding and then on her own burgeoning romance, there just weren't enough pages to fully show off everything, and their friendship seemed somewhat shallow to me. Also, Prince in Disguise is overwhelmingly white with Heaven as the token black girl best friend. Stephanie tongue-in-cheek references the sassy black friend trope and makes sure Heaven doesn't actually become a caricature, but I don't think she was quite as fleshed out as she could have been. Plus, she felt like a weird get for the reality show, but hey, maybe like actual reality shows, Prince in Disguise (the show in the book, not the book itself) has a quota it needs to meet.

Speaking of the show itself, I am an avid watcher and critic of The Bachelor/ette, which is one reason why I adored Prince in Disguise (it totally makes fun of all the ridiculous reality tv things), but I did think some of those aspects were written inaccurately. Like there's plenty of mention of cameras and contracts and the harpy producer who threatens to sue the whole family when Dylan refuses to play along. But ZERO mention of microphones or people carrying booms. Those cameras don't just pick up audio, y'all. Everyone wears a mic. And for being as annoyed as Dylan was at the cameras, she never mentions a peep about mics, and that really bothered me. Finally, [this is a super spoiler so if you want to know, highlight these words] LOLOLOLOLOL at the thought of the royal family being super chill about one of them being featured in anything as common as a reality show. The Queen would have an absolute FIT. 
Prince in Disguise is the perfect holiday romance. I really really hope that more authors have the opportunity to write books like this because it was just cozy and fun and lovely.

There wasn't a good place to put these in my review itself so I'll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes:

Now was not the time for casual neck smelling, even if someone smelled tantalizingly of cinnamon, like a manly Christmas cookie. (arc, page 91)


What happened when you met the person who you though might just possibly be the person—your person—when you were only sixteen? And lived halfway across the world? Jamie would live on forever as the story of my first kiss, but he'd cease to be a real person and become only a story. And that thought was almost unbearable. (arc, page 168)


"I want to deal with all of your stuff, Dylan."

"How does your dumb accent make even 'stuff' sound good. [...] This is a land of sorcerers."

"I think the fault lies in your American brain chemistry."

"Oh yeah?" [...]

"Yes, yes, something about the way American brain waves receive a British accent. It scrambles the brain." (arc, page 198) (okay, but this one is SO TRUE. British accents are KILLER)


Purchase Links:
   

About the Author:
Stephanie Kate Strohm is the author of It's Not Me, It's You; The Taming of the Drew; Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink; Confederates Don't Wear Couture, The Date to Save, and Prince in Disguise. She grew up on the Connecticut coast, where a steady diet of Little House on the Prairie turned her into a history nerd at an early age. After graduating with a joint major in theater and history from Middlebury College, she acted her way around the country, performing in more than 25 states.

Although she was born in New York, she currently lives in Chicago, and doesn't discriminate against any type of pizza. When she's not writing, she loves baking, walking her dog Lorelei, taking dance cardio classes too seriously, and playing board games with her husband.

Author Links:
    

6 comments:

  1. Fact: gemütlich is one of my favorite German words. Now that we have that out of the way, how cute and fun was this book!!! I love Strohm. She is my goto for funny, witty, and heartwarming YA books. P.S. My New Crush Gave to Me was super adorable too.

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  2. I loved loved loved this one! It was so much fun, and 100% agree with you about the plot hole surrounding ~some people~ being able to be casually filmed. I thought this book was a LOT of fun and there's such a lack of options for YA Christmas books, so it was a really fun bonus that this was set during the holidays!

    -Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

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  3. I never heard of this one, unfortunately! But you fixed that today! This book really sounds cute and i definitely need to get it now. Especially since it's the holidays and all. Thank you so much for a great review. Happy reading💖

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  4. This sounds fun and funny! This fluffiness definitely appeals!

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  5. This is a book I'd probably skip over, but I liked reading your review!

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  6. I need light, happy reads and this would be so good!

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