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Book Review: Playing The Palace by Paul Rudnick


I've never been to New York City (no desire), never had an exciting career (well, I have been in a couple of movies), never travelled abroad (does Canada count?), nor had any "fabulous" friends (I've always been on the edge of being popular) and I guess if it's Valentine's Day, in New York and you don't have a significant other, but have an exciting career and great friends, the day can still suck.

The only thing Carter Ogden wants to do is crawl into a hole and forget about the sappy holiday.

As an Associate Event Architect, Carter's on his way to a gig at the United Nations for a press conference for the Royal Clean Water Initiative, where England's Prince Edgar is giving a speech.

But on his was to the conference, he stops at St. Patrick's Cathedral to clear his head and say a little prayer. He hopes that he can make being human a superpower, to help others and, oh, maybe along the way find true love since he's recently been dumped by his boyfriend, actor Callum Turner.

When he gets to the United Nations, the room is in controlled chaos and once everything is ready and out, Prince Edgar comes in and asks Carter his opinion of his speech.

Of course Carter is speechless and before Prince Edgar can start his speech, Carter tells him about all of the things that are wrong with him. In one fell swoop, Prince Edgar gets it and even though he doesn't have the chance to practice his speech he learns a valuable lesson from Carter.

As the days go by, Carter can't get the Prince out of his head and is surprised when he gets a call from him asking him out on a date.

Carter is stunned and accepts the openly gay Edgar's proposal and the two go out to dinner. As Carter soon finds out, Edgar is still a little uptight and when the chef comes out to the couple, Carter makes an impromptu suggestion and the two leave for Carter's favorite restaurant: The International House of Pancakes (IHOP).

Slumped in a booth, Edgar opens up to Carter and soon word gets out that the prince is hiding in a booth and the date abruptly ends.

As the days pass, Carter doesn't hear from Edgar and then one day on another assignment, commotion ensues as Edgar and his security team come to the venue. Carter's boss, Cassandra, is forced to eat crow since she didn't believe Carter in the first place about the date and Edgar politely asks if he can take Cater away for lunch.

They go to Central Park and then Carter has another brilliant idea. They break away from the security detail and Carter rents them two bikes and he takes Edgar around the city showing him the sites.

Later, he asks Carter if he will accompany him to a dinner and in return, he'd like to go to Carter's sister's wedding the next day.

At Abby's wedding, Edgar is thrilled to meet Carter's family and has a good time since he's not following Royal protocol and can act like a regular person.

After a difficult discussion later that night, Edgar asks if he would like to accompany him to England for a week. Carter knows that he can't just up and leave, but Edgar calls Cassandra and get's him the time off (unpaid).

While in England, Carter is of course forced to meet Queen Catherine and she's not taking a liking to him. Even though she approves of Edgar's lifestyle, she still thinks that he's making a huge mistake.

A week soon turns into three and while there, whatever can go wrong does, which causes embarrassment to the Royals. No matter what Carter does, the country is ready to throw him to the lions.

After an incident on live television, Carter flees England and returns home. He just wants to hide out and not answer any reporters questions, but his friends are there to support him until the Ogden family receives an unexpected visitor on Thanksgiving.

I'll end it here because I think you know what's going to happen.

When I started to read the book, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but before I knew it, I was drawn in and (almost) furiously turning the pages. Before I knew it, I had spent a Saturday reading, rather the the other option- cutting the grass.

But, for every good, there's a bad.

While the characters are likeable and the dialogue spot on, I just couldn't imagine this happening in real life (although it has on a rare occasion or two) and I really didn't feel as though the characters (Carter and Edgar) really knew one another.

In fact, Carter tells Edgar that he's going to be the big three-oh on January 22. Edgar says that he's also going to be thirty but that's about it. Carter tells him that the two share the same birthday. Of course, in the real world, birthdates and ages are one of the first things that people come away with after a first or second meeting. In the fictitious world, I'm sure Carter would have been vetted long before dating Edgar.

There did seem to be a plot hole as well with Edgar's security detail. I don't know if they were acting as the Greek Chorus or not, but they could have their own novel.

If you're a fan of romance, I'm pretty sure that you'll enjoy this and the cover creeped me out, so whenever I did have to stop reading, I had to turn it face down.

Playing the Palace goes on sale May 25, 2021.

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