jlgribble.com | Book Review: Playing the Palace by Paul Rudnick

I find it hilarious that “gay English prince” is a legitimate subgenre of queer romance. Still, I worried that I’d find it repetitive after previously enjoying Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and The Spare by Miranda Dubner. Overall, this book is much more of a romantic comedy like the former, but it also stands apart from those two by one notable detail: Prince Edgar is already out to the world.

Therefore, Edgar has always been a queer icon to Jewish NYC event planner Carter Ogden, and their shared birthday ties them together even more. That doesn’t mean they are destined to meet, but in true New York City fashion, they end up with a private encounter at the United Nations. A bit of Carter’s personality buries the intensity of the shared attraction they experience, but throughout the story, the major reveal is how much these two men have in common at their core despite their vastly different lives.

As the sole point of view character, Carter has a dynamic narrative voice that caused me to laugh out loud multiple times. He has attitude and personality in spades, and rather than subduing him to match the “reality” of the plot arc, Rudnick instead heightens a bit of the external ridiculousness factor. The outrageousness did kill a bit of the escapism factor for me, especially when I found myself rolling my eyes even while giggling.

I recommend this novel to those who are interested in the gay royalty trope, but I think I’d recommend the two books mentioned previously over this one. However, I’ll happily read more of Rudnick’s work, and I have no regrets over the time I invested in this still thoroughly enjoyable novel.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

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