Royal by Danielle Steel

When I was in junior high and high school and college, I read a lot of Danielle Steel. After reading so many of them, I thought I could write them because they all seemed so formulaic. So I stopped reading them. (Yet, I continue to enjoy the formulaic Nancy Drew, so go figure). When I saw the title and description of Royal by Danielle Steel (AbeBooks) (Amazon), I knew I had to check her out after all these years. A romance story loosely based on the Windsor family? Count me in! Then, a few weeks ago the audiobook was offered for only $3.95 so guess what ended up on my Kindle?

From the publisher: “As the war rages on in the summer of 1943, causing massive destruction and widespread fear, the King and Queen choose to quietly send their youngest daughter, Princess Charlotte, to live with a trusted noble family in the country. Despite her fiery, headstrong nature, the princess’s fragile health poses far too great a risk for her to remain in war-torn London.

Third in line for the throne, seventeen year-old Charlotte reluctantly uses an alias upon her arrival in Yorkshire, her two guardians the only keepers of her true identity. In time, she settles comfortably into a life out of the spotlight, befriending a young evacuee and training with her cherished horse. But no one predicts that in the coming months she will fall deeply in love with her protectors’ son.

She longs for a normal life. Far from her parents, a tragic turn of events leaves an infant orphaned. Alone in the world, that child will be raised in the most humble circumstances by a modest stable manager and his wife. No one, not even she, knows of her lineage. But when a stack of hidden letters comes to light, a secret kept for nearly two decades finally surfaces, and a long lost princess emerges.”

Spoiler alerts!

The weird thing about Royal is that the blurb is only about the first 15-20% of the book. As mentioned in the blurb, an infant, Annie, is orphaned when Charlotte dies from childbirth. Her husband dies on the front lines, and then the Count and Countess with which she stayed with also die. The Countess never had the time to tell the royal family of the royal marriage and birth, since doing so in a letter could not be a very proper thing to do. Left at the estate are the servants, who did not know of the clandestine marriage of the princess and the count’s son. They think Annie is just one more bastard child born during the war. Another young lady, Lucy, had also been sent to the estate in the country to avoid the bombings in London, and she decides to take the baby and all the documents proving her royal parentage. No one stops her.

She returns home a “war widow” and eventually meets a man who marries her and has children of her own. But she keeps secret the identity of her oldest daughter, Annie. It is only on her deathbed that she reveals to her husband the truth about her daughter’s parentage.

By now, Charlotte’s oldest sister is Queen, and it’s Annie’s stepdad’s job to try and get a message to the queen about her niece. Through ingenuity he does it, and a meeting is arranged. The Queen and Queen Mother are gob-smacked because Annie looks so much like her mother, and they take copies of the documents saved all those years ago to verify her claims. When it is proved true, they welcome Annie into their world.

It’s then that the story starts to drag a little. Annie loves horse racing and is petite enough to be a jockey at a time when there were no female jockeys allowed. I love horse racing and watch the big 4 American races every year, but I just didn’t care about Annie’s career, which is odd, because I normally like stories where women break the glass ceiling. She’s fallen in love, but wants to put her career first for a year, to prove to herself she can compete with the men. Her beloved doesn’t believe her and breaks up with her. But since this is a Danielle Steel novel, you know that true love will prevail in the end.

I thought the story was compelling enough, but in need of a good editor. There’s repetition in paragraphs that got annoying after a while. Twice in one paragraph it is mentioned that “they hadn’t seen each other in a year” and then “it had been a year since they saw one another.” But I imagine it must be hard to be the editor of Danielle Steel books because she’s so uber-successful how can you critique her?

If you like the royals like I do and want a light, frothy romance, give this one a try. Not great literature, to be sure, but that’s to be expected from Steel.

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