BLOG TOUR REVIEW AND EXCERPT: THE SWEDISH PRINCE by Karina Hale

The Swedish Prince, an all-new emotional standalone by Karina Halle is now LIVE!

Swedish Prince AMAZON

I never believed in fairy-tales.

Never held out for Prince Charming.

Growing up poor in small-town California as the oldest of six siblings, I knew I would never ride off into the sunset with anyone. That was even more apparent when a senseless tragedy took the lives of my parents, forcing me to become the sole guardian of our dysfunctional household at the mere age of twenty-three.

Then a fateful encounter literally brought Prince Charming to my dusty doorstep.

At first I thought Viktor was just your average businessman passing through, albeit obscenely handsome, six-foot-five, blue-eyed, and mysteriously rich.

But soon I discovered the truth behind Viktor’s façade.

Beneath his quiet, enigmatic gaze and cocky charm, is a man who is running away from who he really is. A role he’d rather not fulfill.

He is Viktor of House Nordin, His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince of Sweden.

Yet uncovering Viktor’s secret was only the first step.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with him.

I didn’t expect to have my whole life turned upside down.

When you’re from two different worlds, can your hearts meet somewhere in the middle?

Or do happily-ever-afters only exist in fairy-tales?

The Swedish Prince is a standalone romance inspired by Roman Holiday.

TSP-AN

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Review

I was fortunate enough to be part of Karina Halle’s beta team for The Swedish Prince, and I’ll be honest…after the first chunk that was sent, I didn’t quite know how to feel about Maggie; I struggled connecting with her, and I was so bummed about that because I adored Viktor from the start, and I wanted his heroine to be just as amazing as he seemed to be when Halle introduced him to readers.

Because of my initial reaction to Maggie, I was a bit nervous to start the second chunk that Halle sent out to beta readers, but because Maggie had so easily captured Viktor’s attention and it seemed his heart, I wanted to give Maggie another chance, so I actually went back and reread the beginning of the story, hoping that I could understand her more and see who she was and who she could be, and while I still felt some of that initial disconnect with Maggie, as I continued into the second part that was sent, I found Maggie’s disengagement necessary for her characterization. I think what prevented me from understanding Maggie so much was the fact that she just seemed a bit static…kind of impersonal…kind of void, in a way, but I think that, that has a lot to do with the numbness she’s felt since her parents’ murder and the fact that she hasn’t had an opportunity to truly grieve because she was thrust into a parental role right away and had no time to absorb just how much her life changed over night, and when I looked at it from that perspective, it was clear that Karina Halle illustrates that idea at the onset of the story and then when Maggie starts to find herself a bit more…realizing the importance of making time for herself and being a little selfish at times, readers witness Maggie’s transformation, and it’s that progression of character that allowed me to see the big picture.

Because when Viktor comes into the story…the real one…not the persona he takes on during his time in the states, he helps set Maggie free…he allows her to lean on him…to be selfish, not in a bad way, so that she can truly look at her life. She’s a strong woman, but she doesn’t see herself that way because, in her mind, there was no other choice than to come home, giving up her dreams and going back to a job that she never expected to in order to support her brothers and sisters…but Viktor makes her see just how amazing she is…how powerful her love is for her family and how much she would give up for them just so they had a bit of normal in this impossible and horrific set of circumstances.

Viktor is everything a hero should be. He understands loss, grief, and heartbreak and finds a common ground with Maggie on those topics. There is a significant amount of responsibility on his shoulders and his new title – the same one that started as an albatross around his neck – becomes a role that allows him to not only grow as a person but as a son…a friend…a lover…a countrymen. And, even though Viktor’s life takes a path that he never wanted, it’s more than clear that Viktor gains a new perspective on all aspects of his life and his feelings for Maggie and his desire to have her by his side gives him hope for what’s to come.

Viktor is an amazing gentleman but I love that Halle also shows the edgier side of him  – the side that he tries to subdue… the side that only comes out because he feels he can let himself go with Maggie and be the man that he was before he was thrust into a role he never thought he would have. Maggie grounded him and allowed him to see why it’s more an honor than a duty to be the heir apparent and what it also says about his love for his brother.

I absolutely loved how Maggie and Viktor help one another to heal and hurt at the same time, but the new hurt is because of their strong feelings for each other and the obstacles that seem insurmountable for them to get through in order to build on the week they spent together. Some would say that a week isn’t enough to truly know someone or to develop deep feelings, but I feel like Halle clearly illustrated the falsity in that view because Maggie and Viktor are so alike in their duty to their family and to the roles they never wanted to be in but nonetheless have had to endure.

‘Always more, never less’ – this idea resonates throughout The Swedish Prince; it helps Maggie and Viktor gain perspective and it also allows them to take a chance on each other despite the differences in their lives and their futures. Because while Maggie might not see herself as a princess nor feel capable of adequately performing that role, to Viktor, she is everything worth living for and it’s that viewpoint that allows him to fight for what he shares with Maggie even when it seems that it will never work out between them.

I can’t truly impart just how much I loved Maggie and Viktor’s story! The best part, for me, was being able to be a part of the whole process…seeing these two slightly broken characters develop and grow, gaining a deeper understanding of who they are and how familial obligations complicate their hopes and dreams but also provide them with an opportunity to redefine themselves as well as their ‘roles’ in their family and in life in general.

Excerpt

“Do you need any help?” Callum asks Viktor as he sorts things.

Callum has never asked to help me in the kitchen before.

Viktor smiles at him appreciatively and I’m aware of how charmed they are of each other. It warms my heart.

“Well let’s see,” Viktor says and takes off his suit jacket, hanging it on the back of the chair, and starts rolling up his sleeves. His tanned, muscled forearms pop against the white fabric as he folds it around his elbow. Hot damn. Forget about warming my heart, this is warming up other places.

“What are you good at Callum?” he asks.

Callum taps his finger against his chin in thought. “Math.”

“That’s great. I meant in the kitchen.”

“Slicing things,” he says with a big smile. “Or stabbing things.” Evil giggle.

Viktor’s eyes widen briefly. “Okay, so we’ll keep you away from the knives.” He looks at me for help.

I shrug. “Beats me, he’s never wanted to help me in the kitchen.”

“Because you’re not James Bond,” Callum says.

“Well sorrrrrry,” I tell him. I can’t blame the kid. Viktor in his suit in our kitchen is probably the most exciting thing to ever happen to us.

“Have you ever grated parmesan, Callum?” Viktor asks him while rummaging through the drawers and finding the cheese grater. He raises it up triumphantly while I silently shake my head, no way. A cheese grater is just a knife with scales.

“Nevermind,” Viktor says quickly, placing the cheese grater far away from him. “How about you just sit there and sing me songs. I rather liked your rendition of Dancing Queen.”

Oh god. Now that I know “Dancing Queen” was sung to his actual mother the night before she became queen, by ABBA themselves, Callum’s version seems even more crude.

“I forgot the lyrics,” Callum says with a shrug. “But I can rap.” He clears his throat like he’s about to sing an opera. “I like big poops and I cannot lie.”

I roll my eyes and give Viktor a warning look. He asked for this.

“Can I help with anything?” I ask coming around the table beside him.

“An apron would be great,” he says. His hands are already floured from handling the fresh pasta so I grab an apron hanging in the pantry – one that has chickens all over it, my mother was obsessed with chickens – and bring it over to him.

We smile at each other as he lowers his head so I can slip the top strap over his neck. With his head at my height, I take a moment to run my hands through his hair under the guise of fixing it.

My god. This is what heaven feels like. His hair is so thick and lush and silky, the ultimate sensory experience. I get a whiff of his shampoo, something woodsy and herbal that makes me want to drool. How I want nothing more than to just grab a few strands between my fingers and give it a sharp tug. I want to see the easy-going expression on his face become something raw and wild.

He sneaks a glance up at me and I realize how inappropriate I must be touching him like this.

“Your hair was a little messed,” I say quietly, then I go behind him and tie the straps around his lower back. Damn, if Callum wasn’t sitting right there and watching this whole scene, I’d start running my hands up and down his back, feeling every hard, taut muscle, and then climb him like a jungle gym. He’s just so tall, his shoulders so broad and wide, that I feel like I take up no space at all next to him, like Viktor commands every atom in the room when he’s around.

But Callum is watching, very intently I might add, and whatever intimacy I had conjured up by putting an apron vanishes.

Karina-Halle

Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

Halle is represented by the Root Literary and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

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