Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck
Review by Kara Grant **5 Stars**
Book Cover and summary from goodreads.com
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. Simon’s 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.
Susanna “Suz” is very tight with her parents and kid sister, helps by pulling shifts at the family owned Rib Shack, and has been working towards building her dream of being a landscape designer. After being in a relationship with Adam for twelve years (since high school), he honestly yet brutally ends their relationship. It’s only after the breakup that Susanna realizes she didn’t really love him.
Prince Nathaniel is on holiday visiting St. Simon’s Island in Georgia as Nate Kenneth when he encounters Susanna dealing with a flat tire. He is instantly intrigued by her and is determined to spend more time with her before going back to his country and his duties.
Both Susanna and Nate are at a point in their lives where everything they’ve ever known is about to change and when they cross paths, their personalities, their hearts and their faith connect in magical ways. I don’t believe in love at first sight, however, I do believe that with God all things are possible.
This book is a fairytale that becomes reality for Susanna. As she learns to surrender her heart first and foremost to her Beloved Christ, He gives her a better destiny than she could ever attain for herself. As much as this story is about royalty, history, and legacy……it’s also about honor, defending the faith, and opening one’s heart to the will of God.
I know of another girl who spent 8 years with a man who she was convinced would be her husband someday. She truly believed he was her “one true love.” He one day broke up with her with anger, resentment, and accusations towards her. In a way she was devastated, but not so much over losing this guy. No, she was in shock that she had believed in this person and committed herself to him whilst determined to live on his standards and expectations. When he left, she hardly reacted and simply let him go. She learned to forgive herself, came back to God’s throne/arms with a contrite heart, humbled herself and promised never to be so blind to another person or relationship ever again. It was a scary, confusing, and surreal moment for this girl who thought she’d given the best years of her life to the wrong person. However, she found herself afterwards in the peace, love, and nurturing of God Almighty and in the renewal of her relationship with Christ. She discovered her worth, value, and precious identity in One that will never grow weary of loving her. She even stopped regretting the 8 years spent in that turbulent relationship and came to realize with God there is a purpose in everything and the growth that came as a result of that breakup surpassed anything she could ever wish for.
This reviewer understood Susanna’s fear and comfort in trusting the wrong guy with her future. I would’ve liked more time for her healing in the story before she meets Nate (she comments on this several times thinking her feelings are because she’s on the rebound), but God knew precisely what He was doing with Susanna’s emotions and overall I believe she had plenty of time to reflect on doing the right thing.
this is what I imagined to be Lover's Oak
I didn’t consider this book unrealistic or farfetched; this book is about radical faith and trusting God to give us His absolute best while we surrender to Him. Susanna and Nate did not have an easy time of it, but they did not waver from that faith despite the obstacles they face. They also did not give in to peer pressure, the media, Nate’s family expectations, or their colleagues. They each learned to take an honorable stand and following their hearts as God leads them.
My favorite parts of the story were the homeless prophet Aurora (would’ve liked more of her in the story, but she was a definite enhancement), Susanna’s family and the love found there, the healing and forgiveness Susanna experiences, when Susanna discovers who Nate really is and the faceoff between Susanna and Ginny in front of the queen. I also loved reading about Nate’s enchanting country, references to Prince William and Duchess Catherine, and the beloved Lover’s Oak. The story is told in three parts and even though I couldn’t follow every bit of the politics, I deeply enjoyed everything from the first page. I thought of the movie The Prince and Me with Julia Stiles, except this book has a MUCH better conclusion than the film did.
I highly recommend this book! Can I give it 6 stars? It really does have laugh out loud moments, romance, family, closure to a harsh breakup, lots of royalty, a ball that is truly memorable, a coronation that is both holy and humorous, a competitive female character who lacks integrity and thrives on gossip and the tangible presence of God surrounding the two main characters.
I want to thank Booksneeze and Zondervan for the review copy they sent me. I was not required to write a positive review even though I enjoyed doing so. The opinions expressed are my own.