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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Golden Prince by Rebecca Dean

The Golden Prince by Rebecca Dean
Publisher: Crown Publishers
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (448 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

Edward VIII became notorious for abandoning the throne for Mrs Simpson, but in the summer of 1911 he was a prince straight from the pages of a fairy-tale. Raised by the harsh disciplinarian King George V and his unfeeling Queen Mary, the prince longed for the warmth that had been deprived of him. The high society Houghton girls' lives however, were full of fun, both at their magnificent family seat Snowberry, and at the whirlwind of glamorous parties which punctuated their lives. When a moment of serendipity brings Edward and Lily Houghton together, the pressures of a stuffy court are replaced with the lightness that Edward has dreamt of. But a future monarch could not choose his own Queen, and even an enduring love might falter under the furious gaze of a King. Could the devotion of Edward and Lily triumph against him and the impending doom of World War I? Or would they bow to the inevitable and set in train events that could bring down the Crown, and change the course of history forever?

Young love, first love, love that’s oblivious to all obstacles enfolds Prince Edward (known as David to friends and family) and Lily and creates euphoria for them. They ignore the encroaching ‘grownup’ world with its rules, social mores, and responsibilities. Outmaneuvering constrictions like playful children escaping from their nanny, the two teenagers share the joy of true friendship then the special excitement of that consuming, first sexual awareness that is uniquely theirs.

The Golden Prince, while not the usual happy-ever-after love story, is a story that reveals a love that is willing to give up much to insure the future happiness of the loved one. The love David and Lily share makes the heart sing. The inner strength and courage it engenders is memorable.

In 1911, young David, soon to be the new Prince of Wales, did not enjoy the freedoms the 2011 Prince of Wales enjoys, but when the opportunity to shed his ‘royal image’ for a short time presents itself, he jumps at the chance. The four Houghton girls, granddaughters of Lord May of Snowberry are unaware of his royal station in life when they invite him into their ordinary world, giving him friendship with no strings attached. He can be himself without constraints. It is a special rite of passage time for the young prince.

Lily, the youngest of the girls, is a magical, sparkling beauty with a joy for life. She steals his heart, encourages him to be the best he can be, and loves him with all her young heart, even after she learns his true identity. A talented sculptor, Lily lives in her own artistic world much of the time, loved and protected by her family that is uneasy about her connection with the young man who will someday be king.

The secondary characters are many in this novel that touches on political, social issues and mores of early twentieth-century England. Lily’s three sisters are influential forces. Rose, the oldest is a suffragette and journalist that has no interest in men she says, but Hal Green, a reporter on Fleet Street, gives her an opportunity to write for the newspaper and accepts her for who she is. He gets her attention. Marigold, the sister that David’s equerry Pier Cullen calls “fast”, likes older men, prestige, attention, and high society. She hides her hurts well, but feels deeply. Iris, the other sister, longs for a husband and family with a home of her own and wants them with Toby Mulholland, her first and only love.

Rory, the cousin from Scotland that is more like a brother than cousin, plays a unique role in the scheme of things while all the time keeping his own council.

The girls and their struggle to find their place in the world is ‘a-walk-in-the-park’ compared to David’s life. Decisions about his life are made by his father, King of England, in conjunction with the political and church powers-that-be. David has no say about his own future life. When he does say what he wants, his father throws a temper tantrum to top all tantrums.

With letters, phone calls, secret rendezvous, and help from French friends, David courts his darling Lily who gives him courage to use his position, charisma, and talents to make life better for all the people. With her as his cheerleader, he feels he can withstand the rigors of his duties and responsibilities that had at one time seemed unbearable.

Rebecca Dean creates a fascinating story of changing social structures, entitlement feelings of the aristocracy, political machinations, and the immeasurable impact love or the lack of love can have on events and lives.

The Golden Prince is not the standard HEA but it gives the reader the feeling all is unfolding just as it was destined in order for true happiness and fulfillment to come for each and every one of the characters whose lives are woven together in this beautiful tapestry of a tale.