Enjoy this excerpt from Playing the Palace by Paul Rudnick, a hilarious romance between the Crown Prince of England and a New York City-based event planner! And for more romance novel excerpts click here.
About the Book :
THEIR LOVE STORY CAPTIVATED THE WORLD…THE CROWN PRINCE AND THAT GUY FROM NEW YORK
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.
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Edgar had a bit of that abashed schoolboy look, but the years were lending him a man’s seriousness. When he smiled, all this fell away, and he became pure joy, maybe because he didn’t do it that often, and he surprised himself. His smile had a recklessness to it, which was why he held it in check. I’d made him smile, which was maybe the sexiest thing ever.
“Your Highness?” I asked, and as I was saying it, I felt like a cartoon mouse dressed as a footman in a Disney animated classic.
“Yes?” he said, as I climbed the stairs and approached him.
“May I?” I asked, reaching toward his head. “You look great, and even more adorable than in those pictures where you’re feeding a tiger cub at the London Zoo, which made the entire world go ‘Awww’ and then donate to Save the Tigers. But you’ve got a flyaway—you know, a few strands of hair that might catch the light and mess up the video. So if I could just . . .”
I reached out and adjusted his naturally wavy, reddish brown hair, and while trying to stay professional, I thought, “I’m touching Prince Edgar’s hair and it feels like cashmere and he’s got a few freckles across the bridge of his nose and eyelashes for days and Carter, do not even look at his lips or you’ll be arrested.”
“There. Much better. Media-ready.”
As I said this, Prince Edgar was reaching toward my own hair, and I flinched.
“I’m so sorry. I was just . . . you have very nice hair as well. But I had no right, I don’t know what came over me . . .”
Our eyes locked and I couldn’t breathe and I wanted to die because my life was peaking, but on the other hand I couldn’t wait to see what might happen next.
My phone pinged; I’d meant to silence it and now I was shoving my hand in my pocket to find it, which never looks graceful, but as I yanked the phone free, it rang.
“Please, take it, it might be critical,” Edgar said, with genuine kindness.
It was my sister, Abby, who’s about to get married and calls me thirty-eight times a day for monogrammed water bottle consultations and meltdown management, which I usually love doing, only now I told her, “Abbs? I can’t talk, can I call you in just a bit?”
“But I just texted you,” Abby insisted, “and you didn’t text me back and I’m having an epic gift bag issue—”
“Which we will totally discuss and examine in depth,” I assured her, “but right now—”
Edgar was smiling at me, which almost made me drop my phone as Abby yelled, “WHAT? What are you doing that’s so important you can’t help me choose between miniature foil-wrapped chocolate champagne bottles and Lucite boxes of breath mints in my signature colors—”
“I’m . . . I’m . . .” I sputtered, “I’m at work. I love you and I think you should go with both the bottles and the mints and think about temporary tattoos of the bride’s and groom’s faces but I have to go. I’m sorry!”
I hung up and told Edgar, “My sister.”
“Ah. I know the dilemma. I have a brother.”
Oh my God. Oh my God. He wasn’t politely excusing himself or summoning a security guard. In fact, he kept going, asking, “Is it just the two of you?”
“Yes. And I adore her, but sometimes she’s, you know, a lot.”
“As is my brother.”
“Can I tell you something?” I said, my event-savvy instincts returning. “The way you’re talking to me right now, it’s so easy and appealing, and that’s how you should give your speech. In fact, let’s not call it a speech at all. Just make it a conversation, and pretend the audience is just a batch of friends, hanging out in your . . . castle. And remember to smile. Because your smile, oh my God . . .”
“What?” Prince Edgar asked. “What about my smile? I think it comes across as mechanical, like I’m pretending to be attentive and fulfill my duties while really I’m just activating a royal reflex or downloading my official mindless smile function. I hate my smile.”
He hates his smile? Is he out of his mind? If I could smile like that, I’d spend all day looking in the mirror, smiling and sending myself selfies and begging for a date.
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