The Accidental Princess is not what you would think in the book world of foreign princes and princesses. This “princess” is the Hot Coffee, Mississippi local Dairy Princess. Crystal Jean (C.J.) Maxey is not your typical beauty queen. C.J. thinks she is a bookish Plain Jane, and is only doing this to satisfy the extension agent, who is an old friend of the family and more like a mother to her.
C.J. is the daughter of Sam and Phoebe Maxey. Phoebe was a beauty queen and died in an accident on the night of C.J.’s prom. C.J. was driving. Ellie, the extension agent, was her mother’s best friend and has been a part of the family for years. Sam and Ellie were an item when they were teenagers until Sam met Phoebe. Now, C.J. realizes that Sam and Ellie are meant to end their years together. The least she can do is be the princess.
Clint Garrett is a reporter (and everyone uses that term loosely) for the Hot Coffee Tribune. For some reason never really clarified, he decided long ago that he isn’t meant to be more than he is...a sexy ladies man and a newspaperman with little ambition. He covers all the local goings-on in Hot Coffee. He is assigned to cover the princess from the time she is announced locally to her final destination of the state beauty pageant.
C.J. and Clint are immediately attracted to each other and immediately put off from each other. They are too much alike - both unmarried, and “content” to hide out in this small Southern town. C.J. once had dreams of becoming a veterinarian, but that hope died when she decided she had to stay in Hot Coffee and care for her dad. (Dad, you see, is in a funk about his wife dying, and is just going through the motions of living).
The story progresses through the days as Clint and C.J. fight their attraction, Sam and Ellie decide if they have an attraction and C.J. tries to stay positive about being in this pageant. There are some great moments in this story. The “get to know you” scenes between C.J. and Clint are engaging, fun and well-written. The side romance between Sam and Ellie is entertaining, as two older people try to decide what is right after all these years. Once they discover their love for each other, they are like two teenagers.
What hurts this story is the misunderstandings and the drawn out ups and downs of C.J. and Clint’s relationship. C.J. spouts that she is in love with Clint, yet she keeps turning down his proposals because he doesn’t say the right words. Clint is obviously the type of man who abhors the “love” word, yet his actions speak volumes.
He takes her to his favorite fishing spot. He finds out what she thinks she missed and then tries to help her experience them...little things like a prom, which he arranges in a hotel with their own band for just the two of them. He also takes her skinny-dipping and doesn’t even invade her privacy, because he understands that is not what she wants at this point. He realizes she is a virgin and actually respects her for it.
After the second proposal and turn down, I wanted Clint to hop on his Harley and leave C.J. in the dust! But he just keeps coming back for more. By that point, I just kept hoping they would both be put out of their misery and I could close the final page of the book.
The Accidental Princess starts off promising, but ends in a pile of suds and too much misunderstanding. It’s really too bad, because Clint could have been the kind of hero I could like.