The Royal Pain Paperback – Nov 1 2005
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Following The Royal Treatment (2004), The Royal Pain brings readers to Davidson's fantasy Alaska, now a sovereign nation ruled by an atypical king, Alexander Baranov II, who works word puzzles and says things like "tough titty." Princess Alex, sleep deprived thanks to nightmares, is sent to inspect the North Dakota Institute for Sea Life. There she meets Dr. Shel Rivers, who hates rich people with a passion. While Alex's overly meticulous assistant, Jenny, loosens up and goes bowling with a handsome fishing guide, Alex and Shel discover blissful--if quirky--love. Once again, Davidson delivers off-the-wall entertainment. Diana Tixier Herald
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
MaryJanice Davidson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Undead novels featuring Betsy Taylor; Derik's Bane, and the new young adult novels featuring Jennifer Scales, written with her husband, Anthony Alongi, among other titles.
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The plot, if you can call it that, is very thin and for a while I felt as though I was reading a comic book because all this book had to offer was a plethora of one-liners, quips and bantering between the characters. The writing is also disjointed and insubstantial to boot. Ms. Davidson has a great sense of humor and I love the dialogue in her novels, but that alone does not a good book make. It was nice to read more of King Al, Christina and David, but not even they were able to make this novel palatable for me. I am surprised that this is the same author who wrote Undead and Unwed, Love's Prisoner (novella in Secrets Volume 6) and Thief of Hearts. Those were excellent stories with interesting characters, strong and independent heroines, storylines that were dark around the edges, but sexy and hilarious as well. I know MJD writes several books in one year and perhaps she should stop doing that and take her time to really develop a good story that doesn't read as lightweight as a magazine article about shoes. I give The Royal Pain two stars because it does have its fun moments and I love the King Al character. I will definitely be wary of purchasing MJD books in the future. Her books are too expensive for the material we get and I will check them out of the library next time.
If you read TRT you know that there was an attempt to kidnap a member of the royal family and one member almost died trying to stop it. Princess Alexandria has still not dealt with her fears over this incident and as result is suffering with insomnia and a lack of appetite. In order to help her snap out of her funk, her father (the hysterical King Al) decides to send her to tour the North Dakota Institute for Sea Life, a facility that the Alaskan Royals have funded in the States. While there she meets and immediately butts heads with Dr Sheldon Rivers, Director of Global Marine Programs. It's obvious this Dr Rivers thinks that she's a fluffy, stuck-up princess and hey, she can deal with that. But he's also got gorgeous chocolate brown eyes and light brown hair streaked by the sun. He's cute for a geeky marine biologist! And before you know it, she practically attacks him in the Polar bear exhibit!
Shel "never Sheldon!" Rivers does indeed disdain this "Miss Royalpants" He's an Army brat who was dragged all over the world by his adrenaline junkie father. Making and keeping friends has been tough for him but since moving to North Dakota he's found a level of contentment. But he does have his prejudices and he hates "royalty, inherited wealth, brunettes and cheese" - yeah, cheese! And he's got better things to do than babysit some princess. Okay, she's a gorgeous princess with blue, blue eyes and shiny, silky black hair that he's itching to touch! So when she throws herself at him in the Polar bear exhibit, who is he to say no?
And so it goes. They become lovers and Shel is determined to help cure her of her insomnia and control issues. And his cure is most pleasurable! But the "romance" was more surface than substance. Though there is an obvious "aw, you knuckle-head" kind of affection between them and a mutually satisfying sexual relationship it seemed that declarations of love sort of came out of the blue. I guess snappy banter plus great sex equals love in MJD-land. And there's not much more to these characters than what you can glean from this review! There's also a side story about royal assistant Jenny and a friend of Shel's that got more play than I would have liked.
For what it is, it's fun but it could be so much more. I've been reading MJD's books for several years and it seems that she no longer wants to write anything deep or dark though I know she has it in her. I guess I'll just need to readjust my expectations from now on.
There was so much more that MaryJanice Davidson could have done with this book. We never really got to know the characters well; there was no real plot or conflict or much of anything besides a lot of sex scenes that frankly defied all credibility. Where was the drama? Where was the gradually developing tension between Alex and Shel? There was some humor, which is why I gave "TRP" two stars instead of only one, but it was decidedly thin and nowhere near up to what Davidson gave us in "TRT" and the first two books of the "U&U" series (which is itself falling off, but that's another review). But MJD rushes things so much that by the time I got to Chapter 10, I was checking to make sure my book wasn't missing - oh, a chapter or five. Sorry, but I just don't buy the concept of a member of royalty - unorthodox Baranov or not - falling into bed with a guy less than 24 hours after they meet, and getting into bondage shortly thereafter. Whatever happened to courtship? (For that matter, what happened to the princess's guards?)
I'm beginning to wonder if MJD's publisher just insists that she churn out X number of books a year, regardless of quality, because her last few have been just like this one - shallow, derivative, and silly. It's a shame, really, because she's capable of so much more. It might be time for Davidson to take a hiatus for a while, to refresh her creative energy and give readers the books we know she can write rather than this kind of fluffy nonsense. As much as I hate to say this, don't waste your money on "The Royal Pain" - borrow it from a friend or check it out at the library, because it just isn't worth the purchase price.
I was sorely disappointed.
It seems like Davidson had a contract to fill so she whipped up a book, without worrying about plot or character development, dialogue, or believability. The characters were underdeveloped and the plot was weak to say the least. There was no romantic tension, characters just hopped into the sack (or snowbank, as it were). The fact that the main character would allow her suitor to handcuff her to the bed (even though she BARELY knows him) in order to help her with her "control issues" and to cure her insomnia and her inability to (....um...how should I say it?) enjoy sex to the fullest anymore (If you know what I mean)nearly made me give up on the book altogether. I mean, I can suspend disbelief only so much. Not one to admit defeat (and in order to form a fair opinion of the book) I saw it through to the end, but came away disappointed in Davidson and feeling cheated out of the hours it took me to read it.
Once again, I wasn't expecting Pulitizer Prize winning writing (sometimes we just want to read a trashy book...and that's ok), but I know what Davidson is capable of,and this isn't even close. I wish I'd kept my $14 and got it from the library.