I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to review Royally Matched by Emma Chase (the sequel to the novel I just finished, Royally Screwed) for the last few hours, and I am still very conflicted. On the one hand, I blasted through the story and finished it in only a few days. It was just as light and entertaining as the first novel in the series, and although it was replete with clichés and it was predictable in the sense that I knew exactly how it would end, I devoured it (just like I did Royally Screwed) and I had a really fun time reading it. Having said that, there were a few things that bothered me about the novel, and I’m finding it hard to overlook them.
I should say, though, that Henry was by far my favourite part of the story. Chase was very wise to once again include her male main character’s perspective because I loved using his eyes to view Sarah and getting a chance to delve further into his emotions and anxieties about becoming king. And, yes okay, Henry was very sexy and I liked spending time with him…fine, I admit it. Henry was what got me through the novel, and reading his first person narration was the highlight of the whole story for me.
Which brings me to my one major problem with the story: Sarah, the female love interest. It surprised me that I didn’t like Sarah because, to be honest, she’s basically me. So much of what she said and thought was familiar to me, because I have said and thought and even done almost the exact same things. But although Sarah is realistic in the sense that her looks (I mean, I do have long dark hair and glasses, sooo…), personality and morals reminded me so much of my own, I also thought she was just one big stereotype. I know that may seem like a contradiction because how could Sarah be a stereotype if she’s like me and I’m real…but somehow, it happened. Sarah is bookish, virginal and innocent – and I have been all of these things. I’ve done exactly what Sarah did, investing myself in a quiet routine, focusing on my novels and my work, allowing myself to put literary heroes on a pedestal that no real man could possibly surmount. And, when Sarah meets a man who challenges her, makes her strong and brave, and pushes her out of her comfort zone, well, that reminded me a lot of when I met my fiancé and my world was turned upside down, in the best way possible. Yeah, Sarah is essentially a character modeled after me, but at the same time, I got so frustrated with her and annoyed by the fact that she has to be bookish, virginal and innocent in order to contrast the bad boy that is Prince Henry. For me, this is a story that has been told too many times: shy and inexperienced girl meets damaged boy, opens his eyes to the importance of True Love and responsibility and they live happily ever after. And while this is a story structure that I usually love, for some reason I found that, in Royally Matched, Sarah was just too overdone. She was too much the stereotype and didn’t have much else to offer. I even found the references to classic literature by Austen and Brontë were heavy-handed and too numerous. I don’t know, maybe I’m being picky because Sarah hit close to home as a character, but she just seemed a little over the top in her characterization, a bit overacted in a way, and that got in the way of my reading experience.
But, at the same time, like I said, there were moments in Royally Matched that warmed my heart and made it more memorable than Royally Screwed. Some of the lines were really nice and touching – here are a few of my favourites…
“There are meetings in books that stand out, that alter the course of the story. Profound encounters between characters when one soul seems to say to the other, ‘There you are – I’ve been looking for you.’”
“‘You are every dream I never let myself believe could come true.’”
“‘You are woven into my soul and you are wrapped around my heart.’”
One last qualm with the novel: Chase starts a lot of her sentences with “Because”. I’m not a stickler for grammar, and I think it’s important to master a narrative voice and run with it, even if it isn’t technically “correct” all the time…but, I still found the repeated use of “because” at the beginning of sentences to be a bit glaring and obvious. Picky, I know, but there it is.
I’m going to have to give Royally Matched an average rating, although I did get a lot of pleasure out of reading it. It’s just one of those things where it was an enjoyable read, but there were also some problems that necessarily lowered my rating. But, if you liked Royally Screwed, I would highly recommend Royally Matched to you, and realistically, I will be reading the third novel in the series when it comes out.
❥❥❥ (out of 5)
Girl with a Green Heart