The Prince Who Charmed Her by Fiona McArthur

In brief: Dr Kiki Fender is a doctor on a cruise ship, leaving behind a lost love affair and a secret. How does she react when her ex-lover, Prince Stefano, is on the boat?

The good: Awesome medical jokes that had me laughing.

The not-so-good: At first I thought this might be a sequel, but then I was filled in on Kiki and Stefano’s history.

Why I chose it: Met Fiona at the Australian Romance Writers Conference in 2013 and received this lovely signed copy.

Year: 2013

Pages: 250

Publisher: Harlequin Mills and Boon

Setting: The exotic European Coast

My rating: 9 out of 10

My confession for today is that I’ve never read a Mills & Boon (or ‘category’) romance prior to this. Yes, I’ve read plenty of final chapters of these books that my mum and nan were reading as I was growing up, but never one from start to finish. Mills & Boon books used to have a bit of a stigma that they were only for old ladies, but hopefully that is changing thanks to websites like Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. They prove anyone can read anything and still be a fantastically clever diva.

Anyway, I’d just finished doing some exams (who knew that they are so tiring after the age of 21?) and wanted to chill out. Looking through the pile, I noticed this book and thought, ‘Gosh, she has really nice shorts’. (Yes, I am still thinking fashion/cosmetics/accessories even when it comes to book covers. It’s cheaper than buying Vogue every month). The Medical banner also got me – I don’t mind a bit of medical in my reading, it makes me feel intelligent. So I crashed on the couch and started reading.

By the end of the first chapter, I was laughing my head off. Why? Because author Fiona McArthur had managed to fit in not one, but TWO awkward situations involving an Epi-Pen (adrenaline/epinephrine auto injector). One of them was the stuff you snicker about but the other one…well; it has major, major potential for a really embarrassing situation. Not something I’ve ever considered you could do with an Epi-Pen! This was the point where I was hooked.

The rest of the narrative was not quite so funny, but it definitely hooked me line and sinker. Kiki Fender is a doctor working on a cruise ship when after the first awkward incident she runs into her ex-lover. Who happens to be a prince of a small island with an internationally renowned hospital (I’m thinking kind of like Monaco). Prince Stefano Adolphi Phillipe Augustus Mykonides is also a surgeon, and he and Kiki had a fling when he was visiting Sydney. Leaving a legacy behind, it all went pear-shaped for Kiki and now she’s lost and lonely. She tried to get in contact with Stefano, but fate intervened so that he was unable to speak to her. Now fate has put him on a ship with Kiki and he’s determined to get her back, any way possible. Kiki’s just as determined not to be hurt again. Who will win? You know the answer of course, but it’s a fun ride involving a craniotomy (no, really), helicopters, fake engagement rings and a duty to marry before 40.

I was very pleasantly surprised how well this book was written. Even though I know that it’s incredibly difficult to be accepted by Mills and Boon, I’ve stupidly held on to the stereotype that they’re not well written. Utterly untrue. This book had a plot, well fleshed out characters, humour and enough interest to keep me reading – and reading. It’s a fairly sweet romance (i.e. not too many sex scenes) but also covers the feelings of being an outsider really well.

Fiona McArthur also has a new book, Red Sand Sunrise, published by Penguin Australia for a July 2014 release. I’d strongly suggest you look out for it based on the excellent writing in this book.

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