Book Review: Playing the Palace (ARC)

Published May 25th 2021

Author: Paul Rudnick


When a lonely American event planner starts dating the gay Prince of Wales, a royal uproar ensues: is it true love or the ultimate meme? Find out in this hilarious romantic comedy.

After having his heart trampled on by his cheating ex, Carter Ogden is afraid love just isn’t in the cards for him. He still holds out hope in a tiny corner of his heart, but even in his wildest dreams he never thought he’d meet the Crown Prince of England, much less do a lot more with him. Yes, growing up he’d fantasized about the handsome, openly gay Prince Edgar, but who hadn’t? When they meet by chance at an event Carter’s boss is organizing, Carter’s sure he imagined all that sizzling chemistry. Or was it mutual?

This unlikely but meant-to-be romance sets off media fireworks on both sides of the Atlantic. With everyone having an opinion on their relationship and the intense pressure of being constantly in the spotlight, Carter finds ferocious obstacles to his Happily Ever After, including the tenacious disapproval of the Queen of England. Carter and Prince Edgar fight for a happy ending to equal their glorious international beginning. It’s a match made on Valentine’s Day and in tabloid heaven.

Playing the Palace is a very fun take on the story of when a royal and a commoner get together. If you are expecting this to be a carbon copy of Red, White & Royal Blue, then you will be disappointed, as they are not the same story. They do share some elements where there is a gay prince, scandals, a supportive family, and a monarchy that is not fully on board with the relationship. Taking those elements, this story took them and made it its own to create a unique fun read that is a great escapism romance story.

Carter Ogden is an American event planner from New Jersey and is currently suffering from a broken heart after he broke up with his cheating ex-boyfriend. He is a little jaded with the idea of love and wishes that he would meet the prince of his dreams. Enter the openly gay Prince of Wales, Edgar, who happens to meet Carter at one of the events he threw at the UN. The two have an almost immediate attraction to the other and decide to try to see if a lasting relationship could be in the cards.

The two characters have many obstacles to overcome, as there is monarchy and public fully accepting the romantic relationship of their gay Prince. Additionally, they face many obstacles on a social status level. Carter is not from the same everyday world as Edgar and there are lot of added pressures that come from life in the spotlight. Carter stumbles a lot and has his moments of doubt, but he wishes that it would still work out with Edgar. The two characters made a very fun couple and I found myself rooting for them to have everything work out for them. As Edgar is more reserved, due to his position, Carter gets to bring out his fun side while Edgar also balances Carter’s personality that is more outgoing.

Carter is very relatable as he is approaching 30 and thinks his life is nowhere near, where he thinks it should be. For anyone who has any moments of doubt for how his or her life is going so far, his character is extremely relatable. He also went through an ego-bruising break-up and has many moments of self-doubt. On the other hand, Edgar has his own insecurities. The two characters have their internal and external obstacles to overcome making this a story of a couple trying to work through them in hopes of being together, but maybe it will not be enough. As the story is told from Carter’s point of view, it would have been nice to also have Edgar’s just to balance the inner workings of the two characters. There were times where Carter’s inner workings went on a little long and I think having some pieces from Edgar would have balanced it a little.

The side characters are all enjoyable and the story moves at a great pace. The only thing that holds up the pacing is the longer sentences used at times, which is a personal preference as I find slightly shorter sentences easier to keep my reading flow going. The story has a lot of comedy sprinkled throughout where there are moments with a more campy-vibe. The romance is sweet and I just found the entire novel to be fun. It’s a great novel for those who want an entertaining romance read featuring the antics that can come with a commoner being put in the spotlight and trying to navigate this new world. I am very grateful to Goodreads and the publisher for awarding me a copy of this very entertaining novel and I cannot wait to read more from this author!

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Playing the Palace (ARC)

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