Book Reviews

Playing the Palace by Paul Rudnick at Berkley

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Royalty/Nobility / Romance / Humor/Comedy
Reviewed by Barb on 02-June-2021

Book Blurb


When a lonely American event planner starts dating the gay Prince of Wales, a royal uproar ensues: is it true love or the ultimate meme? Find out in this hilarious romantic comedy.

After having his heart trampled on by his cheating ex, Carter Ogden is afraid love just isn’t in the cards for him. He still holds out hope in a tiny corner of his heart, but even in his wildest dreams he never thought he’d meet the Crown Prince of England, much less do a lot more with him.  Yes, growing up he’d fantasized about the handsome, openly gay Prince Edgar, but who hadn’t? When they meet by chance at an event Carter’s boss is organizing, Carter’s sure he imagined all that sizzling chemistry. Or was it mutual?

This unlikely but meant-to-be romance sets off media fireworks on both sides of the Atlantic.  With everyone having an opinion on their relationship and the intense pressure of being constantly in the spotlight, Carter finds ferocious obstacles to his Happily Ever After, including the tenacious disapproval of the Queen of England. Carter and Prince Edgar fight for a happy ending to equal their glorious international beginning. It’s a match made on Valentine’s Day and in tabloid heaven.

Book Review

I loved this story. So much! I went into this thinking that there was no way this could be as good, or as funny, or as heartwarming as the last one I read that matched a commoner to a royal. But I was proved wrong. Very wrong. This story is so funny! So heartwarming! So appealing! With wonderful main and secondary characters. Oh how I loved Aunt Miriam, Queen Catherine, James, Abby, and Mom and Dad from Piscataway, New Jersey. Carter’s roomies and friends. Broadway tunes, feminist ferocious women, and so much more. Where to start?


At the beginning, Carter is an event coordinator, or assistant event coordinator, to be more accurate. He meets Prince Edgar at the UN during an event in which Edgar must make a speech. Carter spends a few off-the-cuff moments coaching Edgar on how to keep his presentation from being dry and boring. And from that moment until the end of the book I turned page after page of drama, humor, family entertainment, hilarious interactions between Carter and the world, romantic adventures, mile-high-club-in-the-royal-jet moments, and Carter-putting-his-foot-in-his-mouth moments—and there were many of those.


I can’t recommend this highly enough. I literally laughed out loud more times in this story than in any other book I’ve read in recent memory. And I don’t normally laugh out loud at all—except via text message emojis. This story pokes fun at both America and Great Britain. Since Americans—and the world, really—have had much more exposure to the life of royals behind the scenes, the royal family in this story felt real. The queen was full of starch and vinegar but underlying her imposing persona was love for her grandson, her heir, and in the long run, she wanted him happy. Carter’s family, especially his sister Abby, was spot-on and totally supportive. When Carter finally allowed himself to believe he wasn’t as much of a klutz as he acted, his life went well, especially when he took the advice of Justice Ruth, who, in framed photo form, was with Carter wherever he went, offering imaginary words of advice. And that isn’t as weird in this story as it may sound here, but Ruth had a role in helping Carter achieve his life’s dream.


Don’t hesitate to pick this up. It is Entertainment with a capital E.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by the author via NetGalley for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 269 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 25-May-2021
Price $9.99 ebook, $16.00 paperback
Buy Link