Saturday, May 27, 2006

A Grown-up Fairytale: The Runaway Princess

The Runaway Princess
by Christina Dodd

This was a wonderful book that made me wistful for the fairytales I read as a girl. If you liked fairytales when you were a child, you'll love the grown-up version that Christina Dodd writes in this book.

The theme is about honesty, complete and total honesty. It's also about being your authentic self and how it's the only way that you can truly fulfill your destiny, just like that Shakespearean line, "To thine own self be true". Dodd weaves this theme throughout the book as a counterfeit princess tries to convince everyone, especially the Prince, that she really isn't THE princess they're looking for. She's just a look-alike, a very intelligent, noble, brave and compassionate look alike. No-one, especially not the prince, believes her until the very end when it matters the most and by then she really wants to be the princess, because she's fallen so in love with the determined prince. Don't worry, I'm not going to give anything away, here, because I don't want to ruin any of this exquisite experience for you. I relished every moment that I read this book and will most definitely read it again.

An orphan from a small town at the end of the Regency period who's inherited a small fortune from her mentor, she's decided to go off and find an adventure of her own for once, before she settles down to run a bookstore and lead the dull and uneventful life of a grown-up orphan with few, if any, prospects. She's not the most likely candidate for a heroine, not physically anyway. She's described as Amazonian, very tall, large breasted, nothing dainty or even average about her. She's on vacation at a spa, feeling lonely and a little disappointed that she hasn't discovered love or even sex on her trip and resigned to leaving her vacation sooner than later as her funds were dwindling quicker than expected.

The prince shall embrace his greatest fear and make it his own.

That's when the Prince arrives on the scene, mistakes her for the princess he's been searching for since they were about twelve years old or so and now that he's found her, he's not about to lose her. As a matter of fact, if he can't convince her to come away with him, he's perfectly comfortable with kidnapping her and forcibly bringing her home with him to wed. You'll love this wild romp through fairytale kingdoms while they're hunted by rebels, face natural dangers and intrigue and one of the most unique romances I've read.

There's plenty of adventure, humor, spirituality (in a mild and peaceful sense, not out-there or new agey at all, very nice and practical imho and enjoyable), and true love as they face their fears and vulnerabilities and in the end the orphan-Princess not only finds herself, but finds out that she doesn't have to lose her true self to fulfill her destiny, rather she needs to be completely honest with herself and must be her complete self to become the woman she is destined to be.

The hero is to die for as well, and I imagined him to look like Rock Hudson as I read it, which made it all the more enjoyable, since Rock was such a dish. The hero learns that in order to have the life he desires the most he must not only embrace his greatest fear, but be humble enough to make it his own. It was the most difficult thing he ever had to do, yet it was the one thing that brought him the greatest reward. One of the things I loved the most about this Prince was that he was so completely forthright and honest, never lied to anyone about anything. He was confident and really went after what he wanted with gusto, yet his vulnerability, which was thoroughly explained and believable, gave him his most human quality.

The only thing that I thought some people might have a problem with was that Dodd's main characters in this book were more like super-heros than people. At least, that's a complaint that I'd read a few places about these characters. Here's what I have to say about that: In any romance book, or any fiction book for that matter, the main characters are always larger than life. That's what heros are. They're supposed to be people we can look up to and aspire to be like-honest, brave or fearless, kind and gracious, romantic. This being a fairytale, of course, there has to be some magic involved or it's not really a fairytale, is it?

However, although I found the Prince's character to be a bit super-hero-ish, I really liked him that way and found it perfectly acceptable in this story. As a matter of fact, I think it would've been dissappointing if he'd been any less heroic than Dodd made him to be. So, I personally didn't have a problem with that and don't think you will either, because it fits the story and era that he's in. I didn't feel that any of the other characters had that super-hero quality to them, but were very convincing as heros. And that's really the main point: they have to be believable, convincing and their motives need to make sense and the way Dodd writes these characters, they absolutely do make sense and are certainly believable. It was a wonderful fairytale and I'm just about to go purchase the sequel to this book, Someday My Prince.

You can find this book as an e-book through or purchase it at any bookstore, including Barnes & Noble online and Amazon.

To go to Christina Dodd's website, simply click on her name.


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