Many readers have probably heard of Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue, which features the First Son of the United States falling in love with the Prince of England. However, Paul Rudnick’s newest novel takes a similar concept but puts a different twist on it. Published on May 25th, Playing the Palace follows a gay event planner living in New York City who happens to start dating the Prince of Wales and all of the hilarity that ensues from their relationship.
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.
In my opinion, this book was okay. The novel was fast-paced, which made for a quick read, but it also made the plot and characterizations very underdeveloped. Maybe it’s because the author is well-known for being a playwright and screenwriter, but this book felt like a movie to me (but not necessarily in a good way). I could see the way the scenes shift so abruptly and how there weren't a lot of descriptors in regards to the emotions or feelings of certain characters' feelings. Instead, the scenery was very descriptive and the inner monologues of Carter took center stage and drowned everything else out.
While Carter was a funny narrator, his character traits were self-deprecating and self-destructive to the point where it got a bit annoying after a while. And while readers got a good look at his thoughts and life, we barely get anything about Prince Edgar. There was some backstory in his life as a royal, but nothing that made me connect with him as a character. Even the supporting characters like Carter’s sister, Carter’s roommates and friends, and Edgar’s bodyguard, were just mentioned briefly without there being much development or having them play major parts in the story. And if there was development, it felt very out of the blue and didn’t really flow well with the rest of the plot.
While I did appreciate the bingeable quality of this book and the way the author pulled in his own experiences as a Jewish gay man from New Jersey, I just felt this novel was a bit lacking. However, if the concept intrigues you, it’s still definitely worth checking out.
*I received an ARC from Berkley via a Goodreads Giveaway
Hi! My name is Elisa and my bookshelf is quite literally overflowing! Join me in my journey of reading as many books as humanly possible!