Author: Jenny Holiday
Leo Ricci’s already handling all he can, between taking care of his little sister Gabby, driving a cab, and being the super of his apartment building in the Bronx. But when Gabby spots a “princess” in a gown outside of the UN trying to hail a cab, she begs her brother to stop and help. Before he knows it, he’s got a real-life damsel in distress in the backseat of his car.
Princess Marie of Eldovia shouldn’t be hailing a cab, or even be out and about. But after her mother’s death, her father has plunged into a devastating depression and the fate of her small Alpine country has fallen on Marie’s shoulders. She’s taken aback by the gruff but devastatingly handsome driver who shows her more kindness than she’s seen in a long time.
When Marie asks Leo to be her driver for the rest of her trip, he agrees, thinking he’ll squire a rich miss around for a while and make more money than he has in months. He doesn’t expect to like and start longing for the unpredictable Marie. And when he and Gabby end up in Eldovia for Christmas, he discovers the princess who is all wrong for him is also the woman who is his perfect match.
A Princess for Christmas is a Hallmark movie with a Princess Diaries vibe with our main character navigating her role as a Princess and torn between following the love expected of her and the love she wishes for. The cover alone drew me to want to read this novel and I’m excited that I got a chance to read it. There are fairytale vibes with a holiday backdrop that spans across the world as we travel along with our main characters.
We start our story in New York City with our cab driver Leo in his off-duty cab with his little sister Gabby and their dog, Max in the backseat. While driving along, they notice a woman trying to hail a cab. As no other cabs are in the area, Leo ends up taking pity on the woman and picks her up to give her a lift. The woman is Princess Marie of Eldovia (a quaint fictional Appalachian country located near Luxemburg and Germany). The two of them strike up a relationship where Marie decides to employ Leo as her driver in New York for the remainder of her trip. They bond with each other and each become curious after some flirting and getting to know more about the other. Leo wants to make sure that Marie has a memorable New York experience and does some super sweet gestures for Marie. It was really heart-warming to read the two of them develop their relationship little by little.
The two of them have great banter and they are open to the mannerisms of the other. As the two of them are from different backgrounds and countries, it was nice to learn more about each of the characters and I enjoyed them as a growing couple. As each of our main characters have experienced grief with losing their parents (Marie’s dad – the King of Eldovia is the only parent still alive /involved with our characters), the two of them have an instant connection that many people can’t relate to.
Both Marie and Leo were great to get to know and the side characters were all enjoyable as serving in their supporting roles. Leo is a fantastic older brother to Gabby and it was nice to see their bond and how they stick together. Marie was a great character as she w0rked to try and impress her grieving father with her accomplishments while remaining conflicted over her growing feelings for Leo. As a princess, she has to marry a different type of man and has been betrothed to Max, a Duke, who has also been Marie’s long-time friend. Both Max and Marie have been postponing their engagement as they each have an interest in finding other people to truly love and be with. Marie decides to take a chance and invites Leo and Gabby to Eldovia to celebrate Christmas to (1)let them experience the magic of the holidays of her home country and (2) continue to have Leo involved in her life.
The rest of the story mainly takes place in the Christmas Hallmark paradise county of Eldovia, however, it doesn’t become Christmas overload to the reader. I liked this part of the story a little more as it was nice to visit the woodsy smaller village rather than the city (although New York City during the holidays is magical, too). I loved that the author wrote Eldovia as having pieces of German, Swiss, and Austrian influences as it fits that part of Europe where different cultures come together based on the surrounding countries (you see this a lot if you visit places along the borders in the EU). Marie tries to balance being a good host to Leo and Gabby while being as attentive as she can and sharing her country with them, but also not neglecting her role as the princess. Leo was very understanding and I like that he didn’t force himself onto Marie by trying to spend every minute with her after they arrived. Both of them had a good balance and they developed a deeper connection with each other over time. They were flirty with each other but had open communication to make sure that the other was on-board with certain decisions that involved both of them.
Overall, it was a holiday-filled romance tale where both of our main characters were more complex yet still simple enough to get to know during the story. Gabby and Leo made a great pair and they balanced each other well as siblings. I loved all the people that worked with Marie and the villagers as they were nice background characters that each gave support to the story. Marie’s father I feel could’ve used some more detail as he seemed to be inconsistent as a character. Instead of seeing the gradual growth or some kind of tension, it just seemed like his decisions were made to move the story along and not a natural progression of character. Although there were places that I feel like could’ve been improved, Marie and Leo were a good couple to root for and I enjoyed reading their story. Also, I liked Max and Dani so it will be interesting to read more about them in the sequel (planned for release in 2021) as we get to know them a little, but only as supporting characters.