Book Reviews

How I Accidentally Slept With a Prince by Susan Laine at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Royalty/Nobility / Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by ParisDude on 26-May-2020

Book Blurb

While on vacation in the south of France, aspiring chef Oliver Reed unwittingly thwarts an assassination attempt on the mysterious Max—and finds himself embroiled in courtly intrigue, stately theft, and a whirlwind romance.

A brief holiday fling with the sweet young American isn’t enough for Maximilian IX Lukas, crown prince of the Kingdom of Noricia. He whisks Oliver—and the entire Reed-Ruíz family—to a castle in the Alps.

But picking up where they left off won’t be easy while contending with Max’s elitist relatives, dealing with the lady he’s supposed to marry, and staying one step ahead of the killers still pursuing him. Add to that Max’s flexible relationship with the truth, and Oliver isn’t so sure being with a real-life prince is a dream come true.

Book Review

Oliver Reed, twenty-one-year-old Seattle college student finishing his master’s degree in culinary arts, decides he’ll spend his last spring break on the island of Porquerolles, off the Côte d’Azur. The first night he mistakenly enters the wrong room and the next morning wakes up with a magnificent, blond-haired, muscular hunk by his side, who not only seems openly amused by Oliver’s mishap but also immediately attracted by his swarthy Mexican-American complexion and his boy-next-door looks. The next day someone tries to kill the handsome stranger, with Oliver standing witness, and that’s when he learns the blond hunk is in fact not simply Max, but Maximilian IX Lukas, crown prince of the (fictional) European minirealm of Noricia. Overwhelmed at first, Oliver finally yields to Max’s charming seduction, and they end up in bed together.


But their dalliance as well as Oliver’s vacations come to an end. Oliver returns home, takes up his studies again, and tries to forget the breathtaking man, which is easier said than done. To his utter surprise, Max shows up on his graduation day and comes back to the little island house where Oliver lives with his stern but loving mother, his endearing dad, and his rebellious, sometimes foul-mouthed and opionated hoot of a sister Elinor. They spend some romantic days exploring the small island until Max invites the whole family back to Noricia for an extended summer holiday. And it’s there that Oliver suddenly understands what being a crown prince means and, more importantly, what being a crown prince’s consort entails, whether secret or not. Court intrigues, political cabals, hidden schemes abound all around Max. There’s his supposed bride-to-be, Lady Kira; there’s Max’s arrogant and racist younger brother John; there’s a nosy lady reporter; there’s the haughty Royalist prime minister of Noricia; and last but not least, there are Max’s parents. Things seem to get out of hand when a second murder attempt is made on Max and when an ex-bodyguard aims his weapon at Oliver… The question I asked myself with abated breath was: “Will they find out who wants Max dead, and will they overcome all these hurdles?” Oh, and I probably added in my head, “If they don’t, there’s an author to blacklist. At. Once.”


To be honest, when I had received the blurb I immediately begged to read this book. “Sounds outright cheesy”, I remember saying, “but cheesy just as we like it”. The book as I discovered it, in a nutshell? I wasn’t disappointed; did get my recommended dose of cheesy (but not icky-sickly cheesy, mind you); got my (hoped-for) measure of suspense with the whodunnit-subplot; and discovered an ending I could barely read because a mosquito must have landed in my eye, if you catch my drift. I truly loved crown prince Max, who seemed to be the character the author fleshed out more and more convincingly than young Oliver. Don’t get me wrong, Oliver is not a bloodless twodimensional fiction persona, he’s a breathing, thinking, and feeling guy everybody would like to call their friend or even lover. But, I don’t know, maybe he was a tad to all-American for my tastes, too clean and cute, too respectful of his parents. I caught myself thinking, “C’me on, dude, you’re twenty-one, go find your balls, don’t let your mom rule your life!” On the other hand, I have to admit he was a strong character all the same, asking himself sound questions, making well thought-through decisions, not taking his partner’s wealth for granted. Let’s just say I had a slight preference for Max, who felt more mature, more fragile maybe, a bit shadier too sometimes.


Anyway, together they formed one of those cute-cute-cute couples you just can’t help but love. That there was a lot of steam and chemistry between them didn’t hurt. At all. And that their interactions were coated with mutual esteem, caring, interest, and loads of humour (especially dialogue-wise) didn’t hurt either. Amongst the secondary characters, there’s one standing out, i.e. Oliver’s sister Elinor, who turned out a treat whenever she appeared in a scene. Irreverent, hot-blooded, argumentative, smart, and a loving sister, daughter, and sister-in-law-to-be. But most of the other secondary characters were well invented, too, from the younger brat John to the even-humoured and posh but warm-hearted Lady Kira to the nosy reporter, whom I immediately liked as well.


I’m afraid I have two or three quibbles, however. Minor ones, of course. First, it’s perfectly all right that an author invents a small constitutional monarchy wedged between Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein (itself a strange royal polity in our days), and Lake Constance. That’s what I love about fiction—anything goes. To a certain extent, that is. The country’s history, culture, policies and politics are created and explained very well, too. But why on earth that country would adhere to no particular Christian church but to a sort of Neo-Celtic state religion was beyond me. Historically speaking that looked just like a blatant non-sense in my eyes—not nonsense as in rubbish, but a non-sense as in “doesn’t make sense”. No such religious enclave would have survived nigh 2,000 years of religious indoctrination and inner-European fights and wars between Catholics and Protestants; it would have been squashed like a fly. That religious subplot didn’t add to the whole flow of the book either, so I thought it a bit unnecessary, especially as it did take up quite some space because rites and things needed to be explained. Another unnecessary little thing was Oliver’s concern that the culprits might be executed at the end for their treasonous attempted murder of the crown prince. The death penalty, this useless and barbaric remnant of the Middle Ages, is abolished (good riddance) all over Europe, not only the EU, but all of the continent, except in Belarus, one of our last remaining dictatorships.


I’d like to add that this maybe shows more what sort of details I sometimes focus on while reading (and enjoying myself in the process as was the case here) rather than highlighting the author’s shortcomings in terms of “world-building”, if I may say so. I’d also like to add the the rest of the details fit in with today’s world, there are mobiles and emails and even hints at current political goings-on in the world (the author is very stout and outgoing in her opinions—atta girl!) so that Noricia and its inhabitants do sound and feel as if they really could exist. Anyway, apart from the minor quibbles I listed above, I thoroughly relished the ride. For the best part of two days, I simply couldn’t put the book down, and as I implied before, I really teared up at the end because it was so emotional. I got what I wanted. Cheesy, just as it should be, with a side-dish of cheeky, all of it spiced up with recurrent steaminess.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 302 pages/110396 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 26-May-2020
Price $6.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback
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