I think it was about 6 months ago when I first heard about a book called Once Upon A Prince. I remember seeing the cover posted (repeatedly) on my Facebook thread, encompassed by words of anticipation and multiple exclamation points. And I thought to myself, “What a clever title. And I like the cover. I should read that book.”
Fast forward to the present. I was minding my own business, skimming my Facebook thread, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but Once Upon A Prince. I hastened (because we never rush, we hasten…) to Amazon and purchased the book. And girls, I did not put it down. I couldn’t. Because King Nathaniel (or Nate, as I will refer to him henceforth) captured my hero-girl heart and held on tight. I suppose it was inevitable. We grow up watching Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Sleeping Beauty. Our little girl dreams are for a prince who will fall in love with us at first sight, overcome any obstacles in his way, and lead us off to ‘happily ever after’. As adults we learn that it isn’t that simple, or easy. And let’s face it ladies, real princes are hard to come by. Anyone else want to fess up to a crush on young Prince William or Harry? (Thank you. Yes, I see those hands.)
But what if it could happen? And that is the beauty of Once Upon A Prince. Because Rachel Hauck takes a little piece of what every girl dreams of, dusts it off, and gives it wings. She reminds us that it’s okay to still believe in true love, and that you don’t need a fairy tale to find it. Susanna and Nate are real people. They have real world problems. But they also have true love (which is the greatest thing in the world, except for a nice MLT-mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich… Ahem- sorry. Moving on.)
This book is real. It’s also innocent and charming, much like the King himself. And I loved every moment of him. It. I meant it.
About Once Upon A Prince (released May, 2013):
Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess---just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn't going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.
The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simons Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family's tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna's aid under the fabled Lover's Oak, he is blindsided by love.
Their lives are worlds apart. He's a royal prince. She's an ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel's coronation. It's the ultimate choice: His kingdom or her heart? God's will or their own?
Excerpt from Once Upon A Prince:
She jumped up. Nate. Goodness, she’d forgotten him. Left him in the waiting area.
The door eased open and two nurses entered.
“…he’s been sitting there all night,” said one of the nurses. “I can’t keep my eyes off him. He’s like a fine painting,” said the nurse with the name tag that read Kasey. “Hey there, Mr. Truitt.” “He’s sleeping,” Susanna said. “Did you say a man was still sitting in the waiting room?”
“The handsome one.” Kasey typed in notes on Daddy’s bedside computer. “Hasn’t budged in the last hour. Said he was waiting for a woman.” She arched her brow. “You that woman?”
“Of course not.” Well, not that woman in that tone. Susanna gently kissed Daddy’s cheek, then whispered, “I love you. You have all my prayers.”
She hurried down the hall on tiptoe, trying not to disturb the patients with the click-clack of her heels against the tile. Her legs pushed against the constraints of her tight skirt. Her heart thumped against the confinement of her expectations.
Why had he waited so long?
Yet, when she rounded the nurses’ station, the chairs were empty. Susanna stopped cold. So he’d finally gone. Disappointment smarted as she slowly finished her route to the chairs.
Well, good for him. He shouldn’t have hung around for so long.
But oh, it would’ve been nice to thank him. Again. Twice in four days he’d been her knight in shining armor.
Maybe she could contact Mrs. Butler’s event coordinator, see if she’d release his phone number or address.
“Thanks, Nate,” Susanna whispered to the cold waiting area as she sank down into the nearest chair, her thoughts drifting toward how she was going to get home.
She looked up into Nate’s fine face. He stood over her with a cup of coffee in his hand.
“I thought you’d gone.” She rose to meet him, hand pressed against her stomach as her heart splashed down. He was dashing, with his cocky grin and confident glint in his eyes.
“I’m still here. Just went for coffee.” He hoisted his vending-machine cup. “Would you like some?”
“No, no. Thank you.” She sank to the chair again, bone tired. “W-why did you stay?”
“To see how you-and your father- fared.”
He took the seat next to her, feeling as if she were seeing him for the first time, seeing beyond his high, fine features, beyond the sense that he carried a hundred years of history in his bones.
He was handsome, yes, but kind was the first word that came to Susanna’s mind when she thought of him- at Lover’s Oak, leading her down the hall to the Butler’s secret garage. Comforting her on the drive to the hospital.
“I don’t always need to be rescued,” she said, out of the blue, out of her heart.
His smile challenged the waiting-room shadows. “Would it be bad if you did?”
She regarded him with wide eyes. “Do you know a man who wants a woman who always needs to be rescued?”
“Sometimes it does a chap’s heart good to rescue a beautiful woman. Makes him remember why God rescued him.” His velvet confession brushed her heart.
“You are a very interesting man, Nate Kenneth.”
“You are a fascinating woman, Susanna Truitt.” He sipped his coffee. “Tell me, how is your father?”
“Good. He’s lucky. It’s a mild blockage. They’ll do an angioplasty in the morning.”
“My father” – Nate settled back against the vinyl blue chair - “battles leukemia.”
“Nate, I’m sorry.” It was the first time she considered whether he had a father or parents.
“He’s been failing the last few months.” Emotion accented his eyes. “I quite regret all the years I fought him, believing I knew better, rebelled.” He laughed at his comment. “I’m a brave man, am I not? To realize the errors of my youth just as my father is ailing?”
“Better than after he’s gone.”
Nate smiled, nodding. “It’s what I love about you Americans. No fussing about. Just say it plain.”
“Plain? I don’t think I’ve been saying things very plain the past decade of my life.” She slid back against the seat and rested her head against the back of the chair. “I’m too tired to go home.” “Then we’ll just sit here and rest,” Nate said.
With a slow breath out, Susanna released the tension of the night, of the day, of the weekend, and drew strength from Nate’s calm company.
Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.
Gallant ScoreI think one of Nate’s names (and he has 4 =) should be Gallant. It’s impossible to miss the orange here. What’s great about it, though, is that it’s genuine. Gallantry is knit into Nathaniel’s DNA. I know, I know, he’s attracted to Susanna. But I really believe he would step up and sacrifice for anyone, because it’s who he is. Any man who is willing to scrub toilets because that’s where his help is needed is more than worth his weight in gold. The fact that Nathaniel is royalty just makes his sweet, humble spirit that much more appealing.
Wounded ScoreNathaniel isn’t as deeply wounded as most of the other heroes you’ll find in our roster. (I think Nancy and I will both admit to a weakness for wounded heroes.) Which is another reason why Nate was good for me. Instead of being trapped in his past, Nathaniel battles present-day realities. He must decide who he is, and who he is going to become. Is becoming king really a call from God? Or merely a birthright handed down for generations? And let’s not lessen the importance of the weight of a world (or 2) on his broad shoulders. The burdens Nathaniel has to carry as King give texture and depth to his character.
Softie ScoreNate is king. And I think we’d all agree that there’s a certain hardness that comes with being in charge. Nate has to be mature and responsible. But take away the crown, and the responsibilities, and Nate’s inner softie comes shining through. Picture our king laughing and carefree as he takes on his brother in a snowball fight, and you’ve pretty much got the idea. It’s something I imagine Jesus doing, and that made this moment that much sweeter for me.
Stupid StrikesBecause Susanna is a weakness, I think Nate allows that to hinder his better judgment. As a result, situations arise that could have been avoided. I’m giving Nate one strike because he forgot to be gallant in this moment, and it wasn’t pretty.
Swoon ScoreTo quote Mama Glo: “Oh my stars-a-mighty.” Tall, dark, and handsome fans put your hands in the air! Nathaniel is your man. But what I liked best about our king is that Nathaniel is a man after God’s own heart. He seeks after it it. Hungers for it. And he challenges Susanna to do the same. It’s glorious. And any lingering doubt I may have had about whether Nathaniel belonged here disappeared at the proposal. Girls. THE. PROPOSAL. There should be words to describe how utterly and completely perfect this moment is, but here is the best I can do: go back to THE moment at the end of North & South with Richard Armitage. Feel that? Uh huh. Put that in words and there you have it. S.W.O.O.N.
Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as the RITA nominated The Wedding Dress and Love Starts with Elle, part of the Lowcountry series. She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, Softly and Tenderly, one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals. A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, Rachel worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full-time in 2004. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.
The FHF Exclusive Directly from the AuthorI pretty much left all of Nathaniel on the field. ;) He rebelled against his dad as a youth but that's in the story. He hired an inspector to watch Susanna when he went back home and I had a bit of a scene with Jonathan, his aide, over it. But I cut that angle. Here's a snippet.
“She's still working at the Rib Shack.” He eased down into the chair adjacent Nathaniel. “Doing a few landscaping jobs but nothing stellar.”
“Call off the inspector. I don't want to know anymore.”
“She could've sold these pictures to the Informant.”
“Why? For money? She doesn’t care that much about money, Jon.”
“Everyone says they don’t care about money until they are sitting on a gold mine.” Jonathan shrugged. “Maybe this is her comeuppance for breaking her heart.”
“I didn't break her heart. She never even told me she loved me.”
“Just a theory.”
“What do Madeline and Hyacinth know?”
Jonathan sighed. “We tried to find out but their office is tight as a drum. Not leaking a word. Even our inside source can’t be found. Word is the Informant's web site crashed this morning with people checking out the picture, leaving comments.”
“Do you think she’s here? In Brighton?”
“Our dog on the ground in St. Simon's says she's at her parents, working at the restaurant.”
Nathaniel moved to the window. A southern breeze kicked over the island last week and melted the December snow. “Of course, why would she come?” He turned to Jon. “Any word on the other thing?”
The giveawaysSame drill as always! One copy of Once Upon A Prince, print or e-book (winner’s choice), goes to a randomly drawn commenter. Make sure you tell us if you want in the book drawing and leave an email address in a spam fighting format like: see you (at) Lover’s Oak dot com
If you have already enjoyed Once Upon A Prince, a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card can be yours if you leave the name of a character from the book in your comment. Again, once the character name has been used, you have to find another.
And since we’re on the subject of fairy tales and princes and true love, I want to hear from you. What is your favorite “royal” romance movie/fairy tale? And yes, Disney movies totally count. *The first person who can identify (no cheating with Google, peeps) the movies I quoted in my feature will get an extra 2 entries in the drawing of their choice.* On your mark… get set… GO!