Suzanna Truit grew up in a dysfunctional home where her parents were always fighting – the plate throwing, screaming at the top of their lungs kind of fighting. In her teen years, however, her parents found the Lord and turned their marriage around. The unpredictability of her living situation, however, ingrained in Suzanna the need to live a safe, predictable life; the need to always have a plan.
Content in her comfortable, safe, predictable relationship with her high school sweetheart, a soldier, Suzanna is happy to wait for Adam to finish his tours of duty and ultimately a proposal. After twelve years together when a stroll on the beach turns into a break-up instead of an engagement, Suzanna is flabbergasted. She is even more shocked to find that she isn’t heartbroken, just furious – at herself, for hiding in a dead-end relationship for 12 years. Adam wasn’t wrong when he said they didn’t love each other like spouses should love each other, and the fact that she couldn’t see it before he pointed it out leaves Suzanna frustrated and confused.
After storming off, Suzanna seeks refuge under Lovers’ Oak, where she meets Nate Kenneth, a charming man on vacation from Brighton. Nate and Suzanna have instant chemistry and an instant friendship forms. Soon they are spending every day together, but neither have a romantic relationship in mind. Suzanna is still reeling from her Adam situation, and Nate has a much, much bigger complication: He is truly Nathaniel, crown prince and heir to the throne of Brighton. According to Brighton law no heir to the throne may marry a foreigner, so Nate knows from the start that no good can come of seeing Suzanna as anything more than a friend. Even if marrying Suzanna wouldn’t cost him his crown, the political situation in Brighton and its sister country, Hessenberg, is such that Nate might just be forced to marry the beautiful but cunning Lady Genevieve. His family, his parliament and even the people of Brighton are certainly pushing him towards it.
Nate and Suzanna’s friendship soon blossoms into a mutual attraction, but with both of them fighting it every step of the way it seems like a happily ever after isn’t in the cards for Nate and Suzanna. Upon news of the King’s death, Nate leaves Suzanna behind and returns to his life and responsibilities in Brighton. Certain that a clean break would be the only way to get over Suzanna and the hopes of what could never be, Nate doesn’t make contact with her again… until five months later when Suzanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation.
Having lost her long-time boyfriend, her job and her home in recent months, the girl dependent on a plan doesn’t have one. Suzanna must finally learn to let go and let God.
Having nothing keeping her home, Suzanna embarks on a journey to the European country that will steal her heart, and the man who already has…
Once Upon A Prince by Rachel Hauck is the first book in the Royal Wedding series, and can be read as a standalone.
I truly wanted to love this book. The beautiful cover first caught my eye and the blurb had my hopelessly romantic heart sighing in anticipation. An ordinary girl winning the heart of an honest to goodness prince is a tale as old as time, and the ultimate dream of every little girl. Something about this book just didn’t work for me, though.
I liked both Nathaniel and Suzanna, and I enjoyed the two of them together. My favourite part of the story was how Nathaniel and Suzanna each found strength in their relationship with God to overcome the challenges they faced, and how that is what ultimately brings them together. Their shared faith is the foundation on which their friendship is built, and the aspects of faith are realistically handled without ever being preachy.
Suzanna’s family were sweethearts (especially her sister, who I hope will get her own book down the line), but I did not like Nathaniel’s mother or his brother. They were set against his relationship with Suzanna before they even met her, despite the fact that he clearly loved her. Five months apart couldn’t drive her from his heart, but they cared more about the monarchy than his wellbeing. He was clearly miserable, he was losing weight, but they would rather he keep the country stable by marrying the conniving Genevieve, who he couldn’t stand, than try to help him find some way to be with the woman who made him smile, who made him laugh, who made him the best version of himself – exactly the kind of woman a King needs by his side. I understand that sometimes royals need to put their country’s wellbeing before personal happiness, but it seemed Nate’s mother and brother didn’t care for Nate’s wellbeing at all. They merely wanted him to fall in line and commit himself to a lifetime of misery all in the name of politics. They invite Suzanna to his coronation solely to prove to him how out of place she would be in their world. They are certain her presence would highlight the differences between her and Lady Genevieve, and that her unsuitability would help his sense of duty to prevail. Nathaniel’s entire family treats Suzanna like dirt. The servants make up for it though, and I loved them all.
While I love the premise and the main characters, there was just a little something missing for me. I had a hard time believing the depth of their relationship. I didn’t quite believe that they could be so very connected considering their limited interaction. I suppose you could argue that it was simply because they were meant to be, but I didn’t completely buy into the depth of their love. *Mild spoiler alert* They spend two weeks together, and make no contact for five months. Suzanna goes to Brighton for the coronation, they spend three days together, Suzanna goes home. They make no contact for five months. Nathaniel shows up at Lovers’ Oak to propose to Suzanna, she happily accepts – at this point they haven’t spent three weeks together and they haven’t even shared a kiss. As much as I would love to throw caution to the wind in the name of a good love story, this just didn’t completely work for me. I wasn’t convinced that they were madly in love at this point.
Once Upon A Prince is by no means a terrible book, it just lacked a little something for me. I will, however, give the next book in the series a go.
Princess Ever After will focus on Regina Beswick, the heir of Hessenberg. I look forward to seeing a regular girl, and a tomboy at that, learn she is a long lost princess. That is the kind of transition I would have liked to see of Suzanna. I would have enjoyed more focus on Nate and Suzanna’s relationship back in Brighton, seeing them act like a couple instead of friends, and seeing Suzanna face the challenges a commoner would need to overcome on her journey to becoming queen.
Title: Once Upon a Prince
Author: Rachel Hauck
Number of pages: 353