Crown Prince Leopold has never smiled. He is not particularly unhappy or sad, but despite the best efforts of his parents, the Court, and others, he has never smiled. His parents are desperate to find some way to make him smile and have decreed that should anyone do so, they have the right to marry Leo. After a seemingly endless parade of performers and simpering young women, Leo decides it’s time to escape. He loves to hunt and takes only a handful of retainers to his lodge. Along the way, Leo meets with a bedraggled young farm boy, Dexter, who ends up in a heap at his feet and in such a state that Leo can’t help smiling.
Dexter was headed to the palace in hopes of increasing his fortune and instead he winds up lost and drenched. It doesn’t help that his handsome rescuer is a prince. Leo convinces Dexter to join him in a relaxing vacation at the lodge. Secluded and allowed to be themselves, Leo and Dexter grow close, but they can’t avoid the real world forever. Only time will tell if they find a happily ever after together.
The Prince Who Never Smiled is sweet enough, though the main plot point is kind of ludicrous. It’s a quick read and the pacing is consistent throughout, but it never obtained the kind of depth with either its characters or the overall story that I generally prefer.
Dexter and Leo are pretty average characters. There isn’t a lot of substance to either of them, but they aren’t entirely flat either. The idea that Leo has never smiled is pretty bonkers and we’re never given a good explanation as to why. Additionally, the fact that Dexter decided to take a month off and chill when he was supposed to be looking for work to help save his family farm seemed a bit self-serving. It’s pretty much the opposite of what someone who actually cared about his family would be doing. So it was difficult to get a bead on either character in terms of realistic motives or intent.
The pacing is strong enough to keep the story moving along, which I appreciated. The author does a good job of forwarding the action and not letting things get too bogged down. The overall plot is fine, save for that whole not smiling thing, but I wouldn’t call it particularly memorable. It has the feel of a fairy tale in some ways, though I wouldn’t say the overall structure is actually indicative of one.
The Prince Who Never Smiled was perfectly average and, while the characters didn’t exactly jump off the page, my biggest issue was some of their personality traits didn’t make a ton of sense. The story moves quickly and if you’re looking for something easy and a bit mindless to roll through, then The Prince Who Never Smiled may be a good bet.