Prince in Disguise
by Stephanie Kate Strohm
“You’re Dusty’s sister?”
For the entirety of Dylan’s life, she’s been firmly ensconced in Dusty’s perfume-ridden shadow. And it’s not even that she begrudges her sister the spotlight; Dusty is far better suited for the glitz and glamour that their lives have become than the forever awkward Dylan could ever be. Her older sister is a darling in the pageant world, was ruler and prom queen of their high school, and now has her stilettos cemented into the popular arena of reality television.
As the star of The Reality Channel’s newest decadently entertaining dating show, Prince in Disguise, Dylan’s older sister has spent a whirlwind of weeks working her way through dream dates complete with fantasy suites and silly competitions with other buxom and flirty blondes as they all fought to win the heart of a bonafide prince. In the end, it was Dusty who won the heart of Ronan; the burly hunk with a tantalizing (albeit difficult to understand) Scottish accent and a prime piece of moor-front property in the heart of the land of men in kilts. And it didn’t matter to Dusty one bit that in the end, her prince was revealed to not be a prince after all – but instead, some sort of laird-to-be, hailing from an obscure and semi-royal line that is virtually bankrupt. But with true love conquering all – even if it means giving up the title of Princess – the beautiful Barbie-esque Dusty is about to descend upon Scotland in all of her Mississippian glory, where she will spend the holiday season busily planning her Christmas Eve wedding to the man of her dreams.
Dylan could not be more reluctant to be along for the ride. She’s much more comfortable in a pair of track shoes and a well-worn sweatshirt than donning heels and a poofy skirt. As if she isn’t already insecure about her gargantuan height (girls just shouldn’t ever be teetering the edge of 6-foot-anything), she now is going to be forced to parade around in front of the entire world in some sort of tartan monstrosity complete with a corset and a butt bow. Her family’s contract with TRC means that the reality network gets to film everything, and it’s proving to be harder than she’d originally thought to hide from the ever-present cameras. And to Dylan’s ever-growing horror, it seems like every time she opens her mouth she’s unfortunately vomiting up another stupid comment that’s sure to end up on a meme somewhere along with her makeup-less face and haphazard ponytail. Where Dusty is perfect, Dylan is merely perfectly ordinary . . . and it’s funny how that was something that never seemed to bother her until it was put on display for the entirety of America to scrutinize.
Much to Dylan’s dismay, she’s now being whisked off to cold and dreary Scotland where instead of spending her Christmas vacation bundled up on the couch with Netflix and copious amounts of sugar cookies and soda, she’ll be busy performing for the cameras as she takes her place at Dusty’s side as maid-of-honor. It really couldn’t get any worse right?
Wrong. After stepping off the train into the bleary and freezing platform, Dylan spends nearly an hour shivering in the blustery Scottish winter while waiting on someone named Kit to come and fetch her. When he doesn’t show up (and with no cell service in reach), the hapless teenager finds herself stuck, only to be rescued by a handsome stranger with dark hair and an affinity for quoting poetry. Jamie escorts Dylan down to the nearest inn where he deposits her in front of a roaring fire with promises that she’ll soon be reunited with her mother and sister at the castle Ronan calls home.
Waking up in a foreign bed with her mother’s annoyed face glooming above her, Dylan is embarrassed to realize that she must have fallen into a deep and jet-lagged ridden sleep after the attentive stranger brought her to shelter. Mortified that someone must have carried her into a car and then further helped her up to her bed in the drafty old castle, Dylan has high hopes that she’ll never see the beautiful boy with the ice blue eyes again. But as fate would have it, Jamie is also a guest of honor for the soon-to-be-wedded couple, and Dylan finds herself thrust into Jamie’s companionship and tutelage as the events leading up to the big day begin to unfold.
It’s a good thing Jamie doesn’t seem to mind being stuck with Dylan. If anything, he appears ready, willing, and able to gently bring her into the fold of Scottish traditions and castle living (complete with plenty of references to pop culture and ancient poetry). Dylan is only good at being the graceless and gawky sidekick to her sister, but could she perhaps be in the midst of finding her own prince in disguise? As the wedding grows closer and her connection with Jamie begins to deepen, Dylan will have to decide if she’s willing to risk it all and step into her own special spotlight.
Prince in Disguise is the newest YA novel by Stephanie Kate Strohm. An author known for her affinity and flair for describing the trials and tribulations of young girls transitioning into women, the complicated dating rituals of highschoolers, and the awkwardness that comes with being a teenager, Prince in Disguise crosses off all the markers for a successful and fun holiday novel:
A handsome hero – Check.
A bumbling teenage girl who transforms into a swan – Check.
Exotic locale – Check.
Cheeky best friend(s) – Check.
Heartwarming sentiment – Check.
A goosebump worthy first kiss – (Double) Check.
A surprising reveal – Check.
Perfect for winter-break reading and long overcast afternoons spent cozied up by the fire, Prince in Disguise gets 4 out of 5 stars from me. I might throw that extra star in if I can get a sequel (pretty please!!!) out of it. The sweet novel is appropriate for readers ages 13+, and perfect for the daughters of moms who are spending hours devouring the Outlander series and want to find a counterpart for their mini-me’s to dive into. The humor is spot on and the giggle-inducing Disney references fit right in. Plus, no one can resist a Scottish prince, right?