Monday, February 5, 2018

Mini-Reviews: Princesses and Ranchers

I stumbled across Bad Princess: True Tales from Behind the Tiara by Kris Waldherr while reading something "work related."  Don't ask me what it was now and if I saw the book featured on a recommended list or merely saw an ad for it.  Whatever it was, it was apparently enough to have me check the catalog at work, and I breezed through this in short order on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

This is Children's Non-Fiction and I'd gauge the age range somewhere between 9 and 12.  The whole premise of the book is that being a princess isn't necessarily as cracked up as Disney makes it out to be, and Waldherr regales her audience with tales of historical princesses and a few modern day ones.

Waldherr covers the history of "fairy tales," and the cold reality that, throughout history, princesses were used as political pawns.  She also covers some rather gruesome subjects, including Elizabeth Bathory, the infamous "Blood Countess" (something to keep in mind depending on the reader's maturity and comprehension levels!).  It's also a bit unfortunate, but not terribly surprising, that Waldherr tends to keep this book pretty European-centric - although Princess Ka'iulani of Hawaii gets a healthy mention and three modern day princesses, Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini, Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, and Sarah Culberson are included.

Finally, I'll admit it was a bit weird to read about Princess Diana from the perspective in this book - namely, that the intended audience wasn't even born yet when Diana died.  Diana is painted with broad strokes, largely as a victim, which is one I've never wholeheartedly embraced.  But I'm an adult who is supposed to see all those shades of gray in a person and certainly the girls reading this book will get there in due time.

Final Grade = B

Dorine read Beneath Montana's Sky by Debra Holland for last month's TBR Challenge and I was suitably intrigued (Holland is a local author for me, plus it's a western).  One of my library cards (yes, I have a few...) paid off when I found this one in their digital collection, so I downloaded and started reading.  Darn you Dorine!  Now I'm going to have to get the rest of the books in the series.

This is a prequel to the author's Montana Sky series and even though it's a novella, it feels like a large story.  John Carter is a prosperous rancher in Montana.  He has just buried his best friend, the man's wife, and their young daughter.  Only their son, Nick, is left and John, the boy's godfather, is now his guardian.  They're both grieving but John realizes that the boy has to be his first priority.  And the most pressing matter?  The boy needs a mother figure.  But eligible single women of marriageable age in the wilds of Montana aren't exactly growing on trees, so he writes his great-aunt Hester. He's taking the train to Boston with the singular mission of finding a wife.

Pamela Burke-Smythe is a plain debutante who is resigning herself to the fact that she will be "the maiden aunt" for the rest of her days.  Her plain looks haven't done her a lot of favors, but the downturn in the family business means her dowry is paltry at best.  Needless to say, suitors aren't beating down her door.  She meets John at a charity gala, where Hester has introduced him to Pam's BFF, Elizabeth - thinking they'll be a good match.  However, Elizabeth is still in mourning over the death of her parents and her fiance' - plus it's plain to see that Pam and John are the more suited match.

I really liked this story and it's refreshing change of pace.  The hero having to go back East to find a wife, the whirl of society outings, and the chaperoning of great-aunt Hester, then Pam, then Elizabeth (once John sets his sights on Pam).  Once the marriage occurs, they're back on the train to Montana where new challenges await.

This is a sweet, gentle story (that's your no-sex-scenes warning!) but John and Pam are such a good fit, I didn't miss them.  The final chapter got to be a little too much for me on the cutesy scale (the whole countryside shows up to welcome home the newlyweds), but it was an enjoyable read that has me curious about the rest of the series.  I'll be adding more Holland books to my TBR.

Final Grade = B


azteclady said...

Damn, now *I* will have to check the Holland books out!

Dorine said...

They're addictive, Azteclady. :) So glad you liked it as much as I did, Wendy. It's VERY rare that I'll buy a bunch of books because of one I liked but this one had everything I've been looking for so I'm hopeful for the rest of the series. It's very fun to discover a new-to-me author and find that others appreciate her too. :)

Wendy said...

AL: I think she's self-publishing now, but the early books were published by Amazon Montlake - so watch for sales. I know they've been discounted in the past. I liked this prequel a lot - for it's different story line and cozy atmosphere. The absence of a wedding night was a bit of a head-scratcher - but not enough for me to ding it too much on execution.

Dorine: The TBR Challenge strikes again! I'm adding books instead of subtracting :)