The Royal Treatment
by MaryJanice Davidson, contemporary (2004)
Brava, $14.00, ISBN 0-7582-0802-2


Fans who appreciate MaryJanice Davidson's brand of humor will have no problems laughing along with the author in her first full-length Brava debut. However, characterization is superficial and there is very little substance in this story to warrant its cover price. Reading The Royal Treatment is like eating cotton candy. While the whole thing is tasty, it's far from satisfying, much less memorable.

Imagine that Alaska is never part of the United States. That's the premise of this story. Alaska is ruled by King Alexander II, an eccentric bearded doofus who prefers to go fishing while sporting an "I'm the King - who the hell are you?" T-shirt. He acts like a complete cartoon character, which is what our American heroine Christina Krabbe discovers when the ship cook is stranded in Alaska and is picked up by His Royal Majesty's fishing boat. She has just put her black belt karate skills to good use on a sleazy captain who tried to cop a feel, and all she wants to do now is to get back home. King Alexander however decides that this woman will make the perfect bride for his son David. Prince David is obsessed about penguins (the birds, not the nuns, just to make this clear), and he's the sanest member of the Alaskan royalty. Which isn't saying much. Can Christina find happiness with Prince David of the Penguins?

Why would anyone want to live in Alaska anyway?

The humor in this book is a little too slapstick for my taste. It is annoying enough that Alexander and his beard remind me way too much of Rupert Boneham, one of my least favorite Survivors ever, but his family is bizarre. There are princesses that throw food at Christina, princes that speak only in haikus, and an assortment of housestaff that try hard to combine British stiff upper-lip humor with Monty Python-esque bawdiness. After a while the wackiness gets to be a little too much.

There is not much plot in the story, just episodes of events happening as Christina spends time in bed with David or in court. Even so, I won't recommend that people start keeping track of things, because the author has a tendency to drop subplots or treat them inconsistently. There are murder attempts, people wanting to sabotage the wedding, and other lively incidents to keep the story going, but there is no actual story arc coming together. Things just happen, they just come and go, and life goes on, without any actually build-up of plot, if I am making any sense here.

So what else is there, other than wacky antics that are never meant to be taken seriously? There's not much else, I'm afraid. There is plenty of the author's humor, but characterization is superficial at best. The romance isn't developed as much as it is an abrupt declaration of love after plenty of boinking and wacky happenings, and I'm not sure how David and Christina come to realize that they're in love with each other. The love scenes are short and perfunctory, but then again, the entire story feels short and perfunctory. The author seems to be more concerned in trying to get me to laugh than to tell a well-developed romance story.

There are some intelligent observations and wit beneath all the wacky overdrive in this story and Christina is a decent heroine who can take care of herself. But the whole, this book is short, superficial, and has "frivolous beach read - don't expect too much" stamped all over it. There's nothing wrong with such books, of course, were not for the cover price. I'd suggest that readers pay $5.99 for the author's much better recent release Undead And Unwed instead.

Rating: 69


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