Accidental Princess
by Nancy Robards Thompson
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1931, $4.99, PG)  ISBN 0-373-24931-4 
Fairy tales often require a suspension of reality and sadly in Accidental Princess, Thompson asks the reader to suspend too many beliefs to make this a story one can enjoy.

Sophie Baldwin grew up in a small town in North Carolina believing she was the daughter of Rose and John Jones. She fell in love with Frank Baldwin, and they married and had a daughter named Savannah. Eight years or so later, Frank left with a young assistant, leaving Sophie questioning her womanhood and dealing with life as a single mother divorcee. Her social worker job brings her some satisfaction, but even that feels sour at times since she doesn’t get to change the world like she had hoped. And lately, Savannah has begun to show signs of pre-teenage rebellion, hanging out with kids who are into goth and piercings.

Just when Sophie thinks it can’t get much worse, she meets a man named Luc Lejardin.  He has come from St. Michel, a small European country, and is looking for her. It appears that Sophie is the illegitimate daughter of a deceased princess and is now the heir to the throne currently held by her Grandfather, King Betrand. Sluc convinces her to return to St. Michel. Once there, she is introduced as the lost heir, but there are enemies.  Luc, who is the Minister of Protocol (a.k.a. security) suspects a member of the Crown Council of murdering the other members of the royal family in an effort to become eligible for the throne. He fears for Sophie’s safety, but he can’t really prove it. 

To top everything off, Luc is developing feelings for Sophie. She is a princess and he just a commoner. Sophie is also developing feelings for Luc, and doesn’t know if it is just because he is her only friend in a strange land or if she is finally reawakening as a woman.

I just struggled with this story from the beginning. First, the whole premise is so absurd. We now discover that Rose and John were servants working for the King and they have raised Sophie as a means of patriotism. Of course, they have loved her too…Sophie accepts this without more than one night of angst and a little anger. That bit of melodrama seemed way too under-emphasized.

Next, Savannah, who was caught with a boy in her room when Sophie came home early, just picks up and moves without any problems…or at least none after Luc gives her a new phone and some super cool CD’s. She makes friends and just fits right in to this French-speaking country, not to mention moving from middle class American culture to upper class royal European culture. Nope, couldn’t buy it.

Another area of disbelief is that this villain has been picking off members of the Royal family for years through a series of accidents and no one put two and two together except Luc, and even he did it reluctantly. The whole plot line and the characters were too forced. I knew who the villain was the first time he was introduced.

And finally, there was the romance. Now, I can give Sophie a little leeway.After all, class in America is a lot less structured and many people meet and fall in love with those of differing socio-economic backgrounds. But Luc was raised knowing he was a commoner, and definitely below the Royal family; he even called himself a servant at times. So why would he have fallen, almost instantly, in love with this common American who was unpretentious and portrayed as unattractive due to her serious depression she was currently experiencing, if he knew all the time she was a Royal princess?  And why would he have kept up the attraction once back in St. Michel, knowing who Sophie was and the expectations of her status? Again, just couldn’t buy this.

When the reader has so many areas that she can’t believe, it is hard to become engaged in a fairy tale story. In fact, it is hard to even keep reading the book to the end. The only recommendation I have for Accidental Princess is to pass it by. 

--Shirley Lyons

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