REVIEW/READING of Caitlin Crews’s BRIDE BY ROYAL DECREE

Bride_By_Royal_DecreeMiss Bates hasn’t read a Crews HP in a while. There can be something overwrought about Crews’s work, but all was toned down, as toned down as an HP can be in Bride By Royal Decree. Crews’s romance’s roots are deeply embedded, maybe deliberately so, in fairy tale. Miss Bates enjoyed it all the more for that reason. Let’s face it: realism, nay plausibility, is not the HP’s companion. We read it as fairy-tale-wish-fulfillment-fantasy and Bride By Royal Decree has this in spades.

Decree‘s premise lies in one of Miss Bates’s favourite fairy-tale elements: the revelation of the heroine’s identity and mysterious past. In Deanville, Connecticut, Maggie Strafford scrubs the floor of her barista-job café when Reza Argos, His Royal Majesty, King and Supreme Ruler of Constantines, walks in with the revelation that Maggy is his long-thought-to-be-dead-and-lost fiancée, Princess Magdalena of Santa Domini. At eight, Maggy had “been found by the side of the road as a feral child with no memory of where she’d come from.” Since then, her “unfortunate childhood in foster care” and subsequent adult poverty made her the snarly, mouthy woman she is. Reza is controlled, proper, and duty-bound, “not a sentimental man” writes Crews, but also an HP-hero. He reveals Maggie’s identity and, despite her lippy disbelief, whisks her away to a private island for princess-grooming where the novel’s main action takes place, soon thereafter to be put in her queenly place in his kingdom. Like many an HP-hero, Reza is a “beast,” not in appearance in this case, but emotionally. He’s coiled inward, with a backstory that makes him balk at emotional entanglement.  Continue reading

REVIEW: Caitlin Crews’s THE REPLACEMENT WIFE, Or An Unlikely Henry and Eliza

The Replacement WifeAfter floundering in the richness and nuance of Gaffney’s To Love and To Cherish, Miss Bates wanted her romance reading to come down to something simple and predictable. What better than an HP for what ailed her? An HP with its clear-cut universe of billionaires and ingenues, overwrought frissons of physicality and high-pitched emotions. She knew exactly what she was getting in Caitlin Crews’s The Replacement Wife, and even got something more: stronger characterization, purpley but smooth prose, and a palatable ethic of love winning over money and fame. She was pleasantly surprised by this romance novel about a hero and heroine trying to fit in, to be “good enough” in a world of money, power, and privilege. Miss Bates enjoyed her foray into the hyperbole-ruled HP universe. There’s more, if you care to keep reading