Published: 19 December 2017
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Category: Contemporary/Young Adult/Romance
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.
Rating: 5 Stars
Prince in Disguise is a good, sweet, fluffy romance that was a great read in the lead up to Christmas. Dylan is the younger sister of Dusty, the winner of the titular show, who is now preparing for her wedding to Ronan (who, actually, is a Lord, but still…). Roped into the filmed special about the wedding, Dylan goes to Scotland for the Christmas Eve wedding and finds that, while a lot of what she feared about having a camera in her face 24/7 is true, there are some benefits to being there too.
The setting being in Scotland, I liked the mysterious castle that belongs to Ronan’s family and the description of the Atholm Arms, the local pub. I might have appreciated a bit more description of the landscape and what have you, but considering it was the middle of winter and shortly after Dylan arrives and it snows heavily, I’m not terribly upset, especially since this weather did lead to some fun dates.
Dusty meets Jamie, a groomsmen of Ronan, who turns out to be a great friend and, eventually, date material. Not quite sure I’d say boyfriend, but romantic interest for sure. Bonding over their dislike of being filmed constantly, their friendliness grows. Jamie is a boon for Dylan, with his constant quotes and sense of adventure. Exploring the castle, secret passages included, is a relieving activity, considering they have to deal with Florence, Ronan’s mother and Dusty’s #1 fan (HAH! Not really…), and Pamela, the coordinator of the show who DOES NOT CARE about anyone unless there’s value to the show and even then she’s a horrible person. I get that she has a show to create, but I didn’t get a good sense of her humanity, if it exists. These two were easily the “villains” of the piece, what with their behavior and the shenanigans they orchestrate/get up to.
Dylan has a strong family and you can really see it. Dusty and her aren’t the closest siblings for two reasons: Dusty is a bit older than Dylan (ten years at least is my guess) and they’re interested in different things. Dusty was a pageant princess and is more interested in all the accompanying activities and Dylan is interested in running and eating (food challenges, etc.). Their mother, who raised them mostly on her own, is doing the best she can in the scope of reality t.v. and even with that hovering over their shoulders, she has her Mama moments when you see the kind of person she is off-camera.
One of my favorite things about the book was that, while there was a romance for Dylan, it wasn’t a forced instalove situation. Both she and Jamie do mention that they could love each other, and they certainly like each other quite a bit, but they never have one of those over-the-top I Love You scenes. I think it would have been one step too many for their budding relationship. It’s not certain whether these two sixteen-year-olds will stay together at the conclusion of the story, primarily because they live on separate continents, the way in which the final page ends is hopeful and I like to think they do.
The big “twist” in the book was not quite obvious; I think I figured it out about half way through, but up to that point I will say that I didn’t suspect it. It was kind of an “oh s*&$” moment when I realized where the story was going and I was excited to get to it, rather than realizing what it was and being disappointed. There was also one other small “twist” that I thought was well written, particularly when we got to see the main cast and others reacting to it, Dylan’s keeping it a secret, and then the reveal, both to Dylan’s family and the show’s staff.
All in all, this was a fast read I would recommend for when you’d like a fluffy read. It was relaxing and easy to sink into. The only thing I might have liked a bit more would be seeing Ronan more, but as this was Dylan’s story more than Dusty and Ronan’s, I was happy with the glimpses we got. The reality show process cannot be easy and while I might not like the majority of them in real life, reading about Dylan’s experience made it obvious on the page that there are real people behind these cameras, these personas that the network wants to create. Whether they’re good or not is another story, of course, but in this instance, Dylan and Jamie and their families were wonderful. Funny, caring, intelligent, and sometimes unexpected.
What a great way to spend Christmas: at a castle in Scotland or, at least, reading about it. 🙂
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.