Title: Royally Lost
Author: Angie Stanton
Rating: 2 Stars
Release Date: May 6th, 2014
Dragged on a family trip to Europe’s ancient cities, Becca wants nothing more than to go home. Trapped with her emotionally distant father, over-eager stepmother, and a brother who only wants to hook up with European hotties, Becca is miserable. That is until she meets Nikolai, a guy as mysterious as he is handsome. And she unknowingly finds herself with a runaway prince. Nikolai has everything a guy could ask for-he's crown prince, heir to the throne, and girls adore him. But the one thing he doesn't have...is freedom. Staging a coup, he flees his kingdom and goes undercover on his own European tour. When Nikolai and Becca meet, it’s their differences that draw them together. Sparks fly as they share a whirlwind of adventures, all the while dodging his royal guard. But Becca's family vacation ends in a matter of days. Will Nikolai and Becca be forced to say goodbye forever, will his destiny catch up to him, or will they change history forever?If "The Prince and Me" and "The Lizzie McGuire" movie had a love child, Royally Lost would be it. Frankly speaking, I have nothing against a cute, cheesy, and unrealistic romance - in movies. In books, I find myself rolling my eyes and craving more depth. Stanton's latest is predictable in every way from the coincidental meetings of Prince Nikolai and Becca to their swimming adventures, balcony conversations, and stolen kisses. Unfortunately, I went into this novel expecting something a little more like Just One Day and Wanderlove and, as such, was disappointed by the rather silly love story this novel presented.
Royally Lost isn't wholly lost, though. Stanton provides plenty of historical background to the European countries and landmarks Becca visits, making this journey an authentic one, and, moreover, the sibling bond between Becca and her older brother Dylan is realistically written. Becca's entire family situation, from her behavior after her mother's death to the eventual relationship she is able to form with her younger step-mother, is paced impeccably and although it held potential for more, it did attempt to provide Becca's character with more than just "sun-kissed hair" and classic American looks. Nikolai's situation as well - wanted to escape responsibility, not understanding the necessity for a monarch in the twenty-first century, etc. - all felt true to the age group of this teen, but, again, there were so many lost opportunities in the execution of this plot device.
Stanton hits the nail on the head as she uncovers that teens, during this time period in their lives, have no idea what their purpose is or, for that matter, why they must perform duties they dislike or feel no passion for. In this manner, both Nikolai and Becca are thoughtfully put together, giving rise to a perceptive story of growing up. Or, would have given rise to this novel if Nikolai and Becca weren't so caught up in their romance. While the "secret/undercover prince" concept of this story is - thankfully - not the cause of too much drama/angst, the main focus of both these characters remain each other. When Becca doesn't see Nikolai she's worried about him and vice versa. Instead of discussing their looming futures - Becca's college or Nikolai's impending enrollment to serve his country's military - the conversations between these two are increasingly cheesy. Granted, there is a certain degree of growth to both their characters, but the type of depth, resolution, and ultimate discussion I craved - anything similar to Wanderlove or Just One Day in their exploration of teenage opportunity, scope, and perspective - was sadly missing.
Ultimately, I felt as if this story had the potential to be a much better novel than it was. Although Royally Lost is a delightful story to curl up with as a guilty pleasure or feel-good romance, it does little to improve the gap between the YA and NA genres, failing to incite the type of thought-provoking conversations that other travel stories have done in the past. As such, I just cannot recommend this book. Sorry Royally Lost, but you would have been better off not being found after all...