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Not-So-Perfect Princess Mass Market Paperback – July 5, 2011


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780373177400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373177400
  • ASIN: 0373177402
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 4.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,793,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Melissa McClone has a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, but analysing airline engines couldn’t compete with her ‘happily-ever-afters’. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest, with her own real-life hero husband, two daughters, a son, too many oh-so-spoiled indoor cats and a Norwegian Elkhound named Chaos. Melissa loves to hear from her readers! Contact her via her website: www.melissamcclone.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

"Three arranged marriages and not one has made it to the altar. That is unacceptable!" King Alaric of Aliestle's voice thundered through the throne room like a lion's roar. Even the castle's tapestry-covered stone walls appeared to tremble. "If men think something is wrong with you, no amount of dowry will convince one to marry you."

Princess Julianna Louise Marie Von Schneckle didn't allow her father's harsh words to affect her posture. She stood erect with her shoulders back and her chin up, maximizing her five-foot-eight-inch-stature. The way she'd been taught to do by a bevy of governesses and nannies. Her stepmother didn't take a personal interest in her, but was diligent in ensuring she'd received the necessary training to be a perfect princess and queen.

"Father," Jules said evenly, not about to display an ounce of emotion. Tears and histrionics would play into her country's outdated gender stereotypes. They also wouldn't sway her father. "I was willing to marry Prince Niko, but he discovered Princess Isabel was alive and legally his wife. He had no choice but to end our arrangement."

Her father's nostrils flared. "The reason your match ended doesn't matter."

Jules understood why he was upset. He wanted to marry her off to a crown prince in order to put one of his grandchildren on a throne outside of Aliestle. He was willing to pay a king's ransom to make that happen. She'd become the wealthiest royal broodmare around. Unfortunately.

He glared down his patrician nose at her. "The result is the same. Three times now—"

"If I may, Father." Indignation made Jules speak up. She rarely interrupted her father. Okay, never. She was a dutiful daughter, but she wasn't going to take the blame for this. "You may have forgotten with all the other important matters on your mind, but you canceled my first match with Prince Christian. And Prince Richard was in love with an American when I arrived on San Montico."

"These failed engagements are still an embarrassment." Her father's frown deepened the lines on his face. The wrinkles reminded Jules of the valley crags in the Alps surrounding their small country. "A stain on our family name and Aliestle."

A lump of guilt lodged in her throat. Jules had been relieved when she found out Niko wouldn't be able to annul his first marriage and marry her. From the start, she'd hoped he would fall in love with his long-lost wife so Jules wouldn't have to get married.

Oh, she'd liked Vernonia with its loyal people and lovely lakes for sailing. The handsome crown prince wanted to modernize his country, not be held back by antiquated customs. She would have had more freedom than she'd ever imagined as his wife and future queen. But she didn't love Niko.

Silly, given her country's tradition of arranged marriages. The realist in her knew the odds of marrying for love were slim to none, but the dream wouldn't die. It grew stronger with the end of each arranged match.

Too bad dreams didn't matter in Aliestle. Only duty.

Alaric shook his head. "If your mother were alive…"

Mother. Not stepmother.

Jules felt a pang in her heart. "If my mother were alive, I hope she would understand I tried my best."

She didn't remember her mother, Queen Brigitta, who had brought progressive, almost shocking, ideas to Aliestle when she married King Alaric. Though the match had been arranged, he fell so deeply in love with his young wife that he'd listened to her differing views on gender equality and proposed new laws at her urging, including higher education opportunities for women. He even took trips with her so she could indulge her passion for sailing despite vocal disapproval from the Council of Elders.

But after Brigitta died competing in a sailing race in the South Pacific when Jules was two, a heartbroken Alaric vowed never to go against convention again. He didn't rescind the legislation regarding education opportunities for women, but he placed limitations on the jobs females could hold and did nothing to improve their career prospects. He also remarried, taking as his wife and queen a proper Aliestlian noblewoman, one who knew her role and place in society.

"I'd hope my mother would see I've spent my life doing what was expected of me out of respect and love for you, my family and our country," Jules added.

But she knew a lifetime of pleasing others and doing good works didn't matter. Not in this patriarchal society where daughters, whether royal or commoner, were bartered like chattel. If Jules didn't marry and put at least one of her children on a throne somewhere, she would be considered a total failure. The obligation and pressure dragged Jules down like a steel anchor.

Her father narrowed his eyes. "I concede you're not to blame for the three matches ending. You've always been a good girl and obeyed my orders."

His words made her sound like a favored pet, not the beloved daughter he and her mother had spent ten years trying to conceive. Jules wasn't surprised. Women were treated no differently than lapdogs in Aliestle.

Of course, she'd done nothing to dispel the image. She was as guilty as her father and the Council of Elders for allowing the stereotyping and treatment of women to continue. As a child, she'd learned Aliestle didn't want her to be as independent and outspoken as her mother had been. They wanted Jules to be exactly what she was—a dutiful princess who didn't rock the boat. But she hoped to change that once she married and lived outside of Aliestle. She would then be free to help her brother Brandt, the crown prince, so he could modernize their country and improve women's rights when he became king.

Her father eyed her speculatively. "I suppose it would be premature to marry you off to the heir of an Elder."

A protest formed in the back of her throat, but Jules pressed her lips together to keep from speaking out. She'd said more than she intended. She had to maintain a cool and calm image even if her insides trembled.

Marrying a royal from Aliestle would keep her stuck in this repressive country forever. Her children, most especially daughters, would face the same obstacles she faced now.

Jules fought a rising panic. "Please, Father, give me another chance. The next match will be successful. I'll do whatever it takes to marry."

He raised a brow. "Such enthusiasm."

More like desperation. She forced the corners of her mouth into a practiced smile. "Well, I'm twenty-eight, father. My biological clock is ticking."

"Ah, grandchildren." He beamed, as if another rare natural resource had been discovered in the mountains of Aliestle. "They are the only thing missing in my life. I shall secure you a fourth match right away. Given your track record, I had a backup candidate in mind when you left for Vernonia."

A backup? His lack of confidence stabbed at her heart.

"All I need to do is negotiate the marriage contract," he continued.

That would take about five minutes given her dowry.

"Who am I to marry, Father?" Jules asked, as if she wanted to know the person joining them for dinner, not the man she would spend the rest of her life with in a loveless marriage negotiated for the benefit of two countries. But anyone would be better than marrying an Aliestlian.

"Crown Prince Enrique of La Isla de la Aurora."

"The Island of the Dawn," she translated.

"It's a small island in the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain ruled by King Dario."

Memories of San Montico, another island in the Mediterranean where Crown Prince Richard de Thierry ruled, surfaced. All citizens had equal rights. Arranged marriages were rare though the country had a few old-fashioned customs. She hadn't been allowed to sail there, but the water and wind had been perfect. Longing stirred deep inside Jules.

Sailing was her inheritance from her mother and the one place she felt connected to the woman she didn't remember. It was the only thing Jules did for herself. No matter what life handed out, no matter what tradition she was forced to abide by, she could escape her fate for a few hours when she was on the water.

But only on lakes and rivers.

After Jules learned to sail on the Black Sea while visiting her maternal grandparents, her father had forbidden her to sail on the ocean out of fear she would suffer the same fate as her mother. Two decades later, he still treated Jules like a little girl. Perhaps now he would finally see her as an adult, even though she was female, and change his mind about the restrictions.

"Am I allowed to sail when I'm on the island?" she asked.

"Sailing on the sea is forbidden during your engagement."

Hope blossomed at his words. He'd never left her an opening before. "After I'm married.?"

"Your husband can decide the fate of your…hobby."

Not hobby. Passion.

When she was on a boat, only the moment mattered. The wind against her face. The salt in the air. The tiller or a sheet in her hand. She could forget she was Her Royal Highness Princess Julianna and be Jules. Nothing but sailing had ever made her feel so.free.

If La Isla de la Aurora were a progressive island like San Montico, she would have freedom, choice and be allowed to sail on the ocean. Her heart swelled with anticipation. That would be enough to make up for not marrying for love.

"Understand, Julianna, this is your final match outside of Aliestle," he said firmly. "If Prince Enrique decides he doesn't want to marry you, you'll marry one of the Elder's heirs upon your return home."

A shiver shot down her spine. "I understand, Father."

"You may want to push for a short engagement," he added.

A very short one.

Jules couldn't afford to have Prince Enrique change his mind about marrying her. She had to convince him she was the only woman for him. The perfect princess for him. And maybe she would find the love she dreamed about on the island. Her parents had fallen in love through an arranged marriage...


More About the Author

I've always been a fan of fairy tales and "happily ever afters", but I'd never read a category romance until my senior year of high school when my A.P. English teacher, Mrs. Cooper, had the class study genre fiction. She assigned each of us a Harlequin Romance to read. Mine was set in the Canary Islands and I couldn't wait to read another one. And another and another. I was hooked. Needless to say, I owe Penny Cooper a debt of gratitude. And yes, we do keep in touch!

After graduating from Stanford University with a degree in mechanical engineering, I worked for Allied Signal analyzing engine performance in Phoenix, Arizona, and my love of romance novels continued to grow. One day, I decided to write a romance of my own. Easier said than done I quickly learned, but I discovered the Desert Rose Chapter of Romance Writers of America and realized how little I knew about writing romances.

After three years in Phoenix (Tempe, actually), I began to hate the Arizona summers. Who cares if it's a dry heat? Anything over a hundred and ten is still hot. So I took at job at United Airlines in San Francisco. I was still analyzing jet engine performance, but now I had travel benefits. I spent five years traveling the globe. My love for writing romances also grew.

Writing became a passion, and the few hours spent at the computer during lunchtime and in the evenings weren't nearly enough. With lots of prodding and support from my husband of six months whom I met working at UAL, I decided to follow my dream and write full-time.

It was a good decision. My first full-time effort, FIANCE FOR THE NIGHT, was also my first sale to Silhouette Yours Truly. When I got the call that Silhouette was buying my book, I was pregnant with my first child. I was jumping up and down so much, my husband was afraid I was going to go into labor.

I moved to the Silhouette Romance line with my second sale, IF THE RING FITS. My daughter was three months old at the time and I was so tired I barely remember the phone conversation with my editor. Thank goodness my husband was home once again when the telephone rang or I might have thought I dreamed the second sale!

I sold my third book, THE WEDDING LULLABY, when I was pregnant with my second child and got a literary agent, too. I'm represented by Annelise Robey at the Jane Rotrosen Agency. I started hoping being pregnant wasn't a trend or a requirement for future sales. It wasn't even though we now have three children.

With the closing of the Silhouette Romance line, I was moved from the New York editorial office to the Harlequin Mills & Boon editorial office in London in May 2005.

I live in Washington with my real-life hero husband, two daughters, a son, lovable, but oh-so spoiled indoor cats and an adorable forty-eight pound Norwegian Elkhound who thinks she's a lap dog. I love to ski, rock climb and read!

Customer Reviews

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If you crave romance, you will find it here.
Madison
In her new book, Not So Perfect Princess, Melissa McClone once again combines fantasy and reality to create a fresh royal romance.
Sis Steele
We know it, she knows it, even poor Alejandro knows it, although goodness knows, it's in his best interest to vote the other way.
LAS Reviewer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LAS Reviewer on July 7, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Not-So-Perfect Princess, Melissa McClone has given us a classic `happily ever-after' in charming, contemporary guise. Princess Julianna was - by expectation as well as training - quite perfect. She was also a realist and doing her best to go along with all that is expected of a woman from a royal household, even if those expectations are antiquated. So how come she's been stood up at the last minute on three separate occasions and is still, embarrassingly, unmarried? It hardly seems her fault!

From the opening, we feel for poor Julianna. She's smart and plainly believes in women's rights, but she is also a loving and supportive daughter; and these, her own best characteristics, have left her trapped.

One of her few indulgences, sailing, reveals to us the true Julianna. And sailing is also an indulgence for the very not-approved prince: Alejandro. HE is, believe me, the stuff of romance-readers' dreams. All right, so he does have a bit of a reputation; but he's also clever and successful and uninterested in his own government/family's throne, and seems far far above Julianna's latest intended, his brother, the prince Enrique.

Sailing speaks to both of them: the wildness and freedom of a life caught between wind and wave. Ms. McClone's vividly described scenes make this one of the richest and most evocative stories imaginable. Somehow, she equates Alejandro with all the best of the ocean - the wildness, the salty smell, the freedom. Yet, there he is, the same guy, also cuddling his rescued kitten.

Yes, he has good reasons to fade into the shadows, but will he? We cannot believe it. Before we are far into the tale, we know what we want to happen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sis Steele on July 1, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In her new book, Not So Perfect Princess, Melissa McClone once again combines fantasy and reality to create a fresh royal romance. At a time when royal weddings share the headlines alongside news stories about societies where women still are not allowed to drive, McClone's contribution to the "Once Upon A Kiss" miniseries showcases her gift for weaving a fairy tale love story with contemporary issues and modern past times.

The last time "Jules", Princess Julianna of Aliestle, captivated me, she was a secondary character, a woman who was compassionate and helpful to the heroine in Expecting Royal Twins in spite of the heroine marrying Jules's fiancé. In Not So Perfect Princess, she lives up to the book's title as a woman torn between duty and desire. Forced into another arranged engagement, she decides to make the best of it in order to improve the lives of women in her own country. She is the proper princess until she meets her future brother-in-law, Alejandro, as he chases a kitten around the palace. Sparks fly, the war between duty and attraction begins, and the story takes off like Boots the runaway kitten. Besides having an engaging heroine and sigh-worthy hero, this modern fairy tale contains exquisitely described sailing scenes, an ogre of a fiancé, and a plot unfolding perfectly to make for an excellent summer read. Here's hoping Julianna's brother Brandt is next in line for his own romance.
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This book is part of a series that kind of modernizes the classic fairy tales a little bit. But there are some twists and turns that you don't see cming. I haven't ahd a chance to read this one yet because I'm currently workinig on another series.
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