So I finished My Dark Prince, the trashy romance novel I’ve been reading my lunch breaks. It was…hm. Not a very good book. Not in the slightest. Usually, though, even the really bad romance novels are pretty fun to read – good for a laugh at the very least. But this one…just bad. I’ll forgive almost any writing sins if a book delivers fun, campy romance; MDP couldn’t even do that.
It’s terrifically bad, I mean absolutely AWFUL. One of those books that’s like GO GO GO WE HAVE TO GET TO THE SEX PART FAST HURRY UP THAT PLOT, so for the first 30ish pages I had no idea what was going on or why the characters were doing what they were doing. I think I have it under control now (he’s the prince of a made-up country but he has an estate in England and he’s marrying the princess of another made-up country but she was kidnapped and then he sees a girl who looks like the princess, who turns out to be the princess’s cousin but illegitimate, and he’s like you have to stand in for the princess so no one knows she’s missing and also I’m not letting you leave even though there’s like 10 people in this town and you live next door with your mom, who I’ve already been to visit without you knowing…). Also, the writing is bad, but the interior cover art hooked me. It’s brilliant – a Fabio-looking guy on top of a rearing black horse, both of them composed awkwardly like the artist has never seen a man or a horse in real life. (Sorry, I don’t have a picture of this. But man! It’s frickin’ sweet!)
I imagine he’ll WANT to marry imposter girl, but will be forced to marry the real girl BUT then something will happen and she (the imposter girl) will somehow be granted the rights and titles that she would have had if she were not illegitimate and they’ll be able to get married. Also, the main guy is a TOTAL asshole. She’s trying to tell him about how people are starving in the village and desperate to make a living and he’s all, well I appointed people to keep track of them so it’s taken care of let’s make out, and she’s like, but the people you appointed are corrupt and it made things worse please help! And he’s all, look don’t lie to me I know you guys are stealing from me and I should probably just hang everyone are we going to kiss or what? And then she’s like, NO YOU DON’T GET IT we’re good hardworking people and you have so much to learn from us, let me teach you, but of course he’s like WHAT I CAN’T HEAR YOU I’M TAKING OFF MY PANTS. Also, can I say how much I hate hate hate HATE it when romance novels try to be coy? There was one scene between the girl and her mom and her mom made like SIX references to something that happened when the girl was 15 but never elaborated (“remember? That thing? That happened? You were 15? IT WAS A BIG DEAL?”), like now I’m supposed to be SO CURIOUS about what happened, but really I don’t care and I hate these mind games.
Prince Horny Douche taught Lady Faker how to ride a horse, which of course involved lots of touching and tightening of loins and sore thighs, and they also kissed but it was a trick to see if she would betray him WHICH SHE DID only she didn’t really and then he broke her mother’s FAVORITE ugly pitcher, which doesn’t he know can never be replaced because it’s so sentimentally valuable and isn’t he such a CAD, but oh my god she’s been MARRIED and is now a WIDOW (the thing! That happened!) and UGH it’s going to be SOOOOO much harder to not have sex with her now that he KNOWS she’s not a virgin and she wonders can’t we just be friends that kiss…?
Well, they can’t. They can be friends that fight – haha, just kidding, who would want to be friends with this guy? It all started after she hid under his desk when he was talking to someone (and DID NOT feel him up?! Shitty romance heroine alert) and then he was like, I can’t be near you if we aren’t doing it and we can’t do it, so…eff off. And he ignores her for awhile and she writes letters to her mom like, Today he was horrible to me but I totally get it because he’s a prince and it’s very stressful and he just needs a friend, he doesn’t mean to be such a colossal jerk, until she comes to see him, totally pissed. See, she found out from one of the other dudes that all these riding lessons aren’t actually going to make her ride as well as the princess she’s impersonating and she took that to mean, “he’s just teaching you to ride so he can touch your luscious lady thighs and make crude jokes about mounting with the boys,” so she got mad. AND THEN he’s like, “no no no, I did it so you would have confidence! Exactly the same kind of confidence you need to pretend to be a princess! It’s totally the same thing!” And she’s like, oh, ok, I buy that. But then he decides that he doesn’t want to hear that so he’s like, “I’m incapable of love!” and she’s like, “me too! My husband treated me bad! I was only 15!” and they stop talking again. Then her 30 days of princess training is over (nevermind that we’ve seen NO training except a couple riding lessons –teehee – and them fighting, ugh) and they go to London. Where they attend a ball and she is unveiled as the princess and the Tsar of Russia is all, OMG I LOVE YOU YOU’RE SO CUTE! And the guy who kidnapped the real princess but thought nobody knew is like, OMG I HATE YOU MAYBE I’LL STAB HER, and the prince is like DON’T DO IT THAT WOULD BE SOOOO AWKWARD.
But: the prince has an evil cousin (named CARL!) who says to the fake princess, “come have sex with me tonight OR I’ll have this lady that I kidnapped killed AND her hubby will assassinate the prince at your fake-wedding.” And she wrings her delicate lady-hands, all, oh nooooo what will I dooooo I guess I’ll just have to suck it up and get down with this bad guy. (PS. CARL has a habit of abusing little boys…like, sexually abusing. It’s implied that he’s ALSO DONE IT TO THE PRINCE OMG.) So she goes to see CARL who tells her all about his evil plan and then as she’s about to get naked the prince comes in and he’s all, “I figured out your dumb plan and I want to stab you but I won’t,” and CARL is like, “but what about this element of my plan!” And the prince is like, “that too!” and CARL is like, “uh…this part?” and the prince is like, “yeah, that too! Totally figured all of it out!” So he and the fake princess leave and he tells her he loves her and she’s like, well that won’t do and tells him she’s very thankful for his feelings and goodnight. So they have the fake wedding and on the fake wedding night she wants to do it, but he’s like, “I don’t know how! I don’t know how to LOVE!” and then they do it. Then the next day he decides it’s too dangerous for her, so he makes arrangements to send her home and he’ll continue to his fake country and just pretend that she’s still with him. But she convinces the guys who were supposed to take her home that she shouldn’t go home and they take her back to the ship that they’re traveling on. BUT she gets really sea sick (preggo already?! She has lots and LOTS of sex dreams about the prince, and I’m betting most/all of them aren’t actually dreams…) and while she’s incapacitated, he takes off with CARL. Someone tells her they supposedly went hunting, but they seemed to be riding hell for leather toward his fake country. All she’s left with are her ladies and this one kid that CARL abused and then sent to spy on the prince, but the kid adores the prince and everyone knows he’s a spy and the prince just wants to give him a better life and help him escape CARL (though he keeps sending him back to CARL, so who knows). Anyway, she’s like, this is way harder than anything I’ve ever had to do AND I only have this one kid AND I don’t know how to get where we’re going. SO LET’S GO!
So the fake princess rushes off after the prince and…finds him. That’s it. Then they disguise themselves and head toward his homeland, where EVIL CARL has been stirring up rumors and turning the people against him. So then they have to cross this bridge, but CARL’s army has it, so the prince gives this ridiculous speech and they all throw down their weapons and decide to love him. Awww. So he gets to go back to his castle, fake princess in tow, but that doesn’t last long because they are really mean to each other, like every nice scene is followed immediately by a huge verbally abusive fight. Also he starts to feel guilty that the REAL princess is with CARL, no doubt being tortured and abused, so he decides to go…do…something…anyway, they leave the castle with his men and a bunch of local nobles. But there’s a rock slide! Most of them die! But not the prince, fake princess (who at this point has decided that she’s pregnant, having figured it out immediately after the last time they had sex) and a couple of his best dudes. Everyone assumes that the prince is dead, which they figure can work in their favor because CARL will bring the real princess to the castle when he comes to take it over (as the next in line for the crown) and then the prince can show up, not dead, and save the day. Only he doesn’t really want to wait, he wants to rush impulsively into a dangerous situation. OF COURSE HE DOES. The fake princess and his dudes come up with a plan to lock him up with fake-princess to keep him safe, which of course he is PISSED about. He screams at her about how terrible she is and then LIGHTS THE ROOM ON FIRE, nearly killing them both. So he busts out of the room and then battles all his OWN MEN (and the scene is all about how he fought as hard as he could and he’s a MASTER swordsman so they are in SERIOUS DANGER, but when it’s over the only wounds they have are like little scratches here and there, so clearly he’s not very good with a sword – yes that was definitely a double entendre). So he rushes off to do his thing and fake-princess arranges to be at the castle too and he barges in like, HEY I’M NOT DEAD, and CARL is all, WTF?! And of course the real princess is there, totally depressed because she’s not dead but also not really a fan of the prince and not super excited about having to marry him. So the huge mob of people can’t decide who they hate and at first they hate the prince and the fake-princess and she’s all, don’t trample me!, but then the prince tells them how evil CARL is and they turn on him instead. And now the real princess is safe and the threat from CARL is gone (killed by angry mob of villagers, yikes), so fake princess goes home to the English countryside to live quietly and have her baby. Then like A YEAR LATER the prince shows up to tell her that he’s abdicated the throne (but, nbd, the princess was in love with one of his dudes the whole time and also HE’S A PRINCE TOO…which seems totally irresponsible to me, a prince acting as bodyguard for a prince?!…anyway prince-dude and real-princess got married, problem solved), but don’t worry he’s still a hugely rich DUKE and owns the whole English countryside and she’s like, that’s rad, by the way we have a daughter, and he’s like YOU MAKE ME SO HAPPY AND YOU TAUGHT ME HOW TO LOVE!
What a RIDICULOUS and STUPID book. Oh. My. God. Even if it wasn’t unnecessarily overly complicated, and even if it wasn’t paced way WAY too fast, and even if all of the conflicts didn’t get resolved in heavy-handed, completely undramatic ways that undermine all of the heavy-handed, undramatic tension the author feebly tried to create, and even if the writing wasn’t average at best…THIS IS NOT ROMANTIC. He’s a total jackass to her the whole book (HELLO! LADY HE TRIED TO KILL YOU! MORE THAN ONCE!) and then tries to explain it away with, oh baby I do that ‘cause I love you so much, I just can’t help myself, which is CLASSIC domestic abuser thinking, they BARELY have sex and when they do it’s always followed by a big fight in which he is totally rotten and mean to her. I imagine an unwritten sequel to this book, titled THE END OF MY LOVE STORY: MY DARK KNIGHT BEATS ME AND OUR DAUGHTER TO DEATH BUT IT’S NOT HIS FAULT BECAUSE I WAS A BAD WIFE AND I PUSHED HIM INTO IT REALLY HE’S A GREAT GUY SERIOUSLY I MEAN THAT WE’RE IN LOVE.