The Playboy Prince and the Nanny – Donna Alward

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Tomorrow morning, The Playboy Prince and the Nanny will be released by St. Martin’s Press. It’s the first in a two-part series by Canadian author Donna Alward, about a prince and his brother the king. This is the first instalment, which sees us delving into the Diego Navarro’s love life. Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

Prince Diego Navarro is the “spare” to his brother’s “heir”. While Raoul performs his crown prince duties with the appropriate sense of nobility and poise, Diego’s garnered a bit of a reputation as a playboy – despite the good he does behind the scenes with his favorite charities.

But when tragedy strikes and his sister-in-law is killed in a car accident, Diego knows it’s time for the playboy to step up. If not for his brother, then for his niece and nephew, who now find themselves without a mother.

Which is where Rose Walters comes in.

Rose isn’t intimidated by money or glitz. The veteran nanny has worked for the rich and minimally famous, but a manor house is no comparison to a castle… or the handsome princes who live there. However, the worst thing she could possibly do is fall for the gorgeous playboy with a surprising heart of gold. He’s a prince; she’s the help. He lives in the tabloids; she loves her privacy. But when her two darling charges start to play matchmaker, Diego and Rose don’t stand a chance.

Since it’s still so brand-new, I don’t want to spoil anything. So let me just say this: I loved it. It’s a story about real human beings in a real relationship with real problems. No over-the-top misunderstandings that could have been cleared up in two seconds, no dramatic accidents or ex-lovers out to get them, no two people who don’t realise they are in love until it’s (almost) too late, … But a very real and, I thought, honest story about two people in very different circumstances who just happen to fall in love. I will not say any more, but I will tempt you with this excerpt:

“How bad is it, Luce?”

“Bad.” In that one word he could tell she’d been crying. Oh God . . .

“Ceci?”

“Gone, Diego.” Her voice caught on a sob. “Mariana too.”

For once the news had it right. His sister-in-law and Mariana—the nanny to his niece and nephew. His heart stuttered. He’d hoped there’d been a mistake. The paparazzi couldn’t be trusted with the truth, as he well knew. What a time for them to be right.

“The children?” he asked as he said a silent prayer that they hadn’t been in the car. He couldn’t think about Max and Emilia too much; he kept them at the edge of his mind and heart right now. The thought of losing them was terrifying and he steeled himself against the emotion.

“Bruised. Scared. But alive.”

He let out his breath, felt a sob escape, and gulped it back. He couldn’t lose his grip.

“We tried calling you for the last hour,” she said. “Your brother . . .”

His brother would be a wreck and expectedly so. His wife had just died. Perhaps a lot of royal marriages weren’t based on love, but Raoul’s had been. He’d doted on Ceci and the kids. Mariana, too, had been like part of the family. Hell, she’d been with the palace since . . .

Since Diego and Raoul had lost their own mother nearly twenty-five years ago. Mariana had raised them. She treated Raoul and Ceci’s children like grandkids. Grief struck him, sharp and sure, a painful ache around his heart. Mariana had been family.

“I’m sorry,” he replied, pressing the fingers of his left hand to his temple. Those were two words he said often when it came to his family. Now, though, he really meant them. “I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“I know you will,” she said gently. Of the whole family, Lucy was the one who was easiest on him, who understood him best. Maybe because she hadn’t been raised in Marazur. It afforded her a clarity that others didn’t have. “I’m so glad I’m here right now. Papa . . .” Her voice broke again.

“Is Brody there with you?” Lucy and her family made their home in Canada, on Brody’s ranch, but visited often. Right now Diego found himself beyond thankful that she was there now to help his father and brother navigate the next few days. Papa would know what to do . . . he’d been here before.

A man shouldn’t have to face this kind of tragedy more than once in a lifetime.

“Brody’s here. He’s looking after Alex now so I can be there for Raoul and Papa.”

Lucy would be keeping everyone cared for and fed and nurtured, because that’s what she did. Diego rested his shoulders against the brick wall of the pub and sighed. Raoul, the crown prince, the responsible ruler-to-be, fair and just. Lucy, the mothering figure who cared for the family’s simpler but no less important needs. And then there was Diego. Where did he fit? In the stables. At parties. In fast cars.

In other countries. With firm admonishment to not be an embarrassment to the family.

“Diego?”

“I’m here. I’m going to go, though, Lucy. I need to make travel plans. I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

[…]

She was here to work, but couldn’t escape the thought that this was also a bit of a fairy tale, really. Her assignments through the agency had been posh indeed, but nothing on this scale.

“Miss? If you’re ready.”

Marco had both of her cases and waited for her to make her way through the doors. To her continued surprise, she was escorted through customs without any wait or trouble, and in mere minutes found herself ensconced in the back of a limousine.

My word.

She was starting to get nervous now, and twisted her fingers together. Drew them apart again and wiped them on her black trousers, then regretted that too. She had to keep calm, cool, professional. This was her job. It wouldn’t do to be flustered and nervous.

The airport was on the outskirts of the city, and she peered out the window at the narrow streets and charming houses stacked on the hillside. Oh, on one of her days off she’d have to come down here and discover all the nooks and crannies. Have coffee or a glass of wine at a little cantina along a cobbled street. She was still thinking about it when the car began to climb and wind its way out of the urban area and along some of the most beautiful landscape she had ever seen.

Marco slowed and stopped at a huge set of gates, which swung open at their arrival. They crept at a sedate pace along a paved lane flanked with what looked like some sort of oak. Then she caught sight of it. The castle—home of King Alexander of Marazur. Turrets rose up, pinky-beige against the blue of the sky and the green of the manicured grounds. A hedge formed a kind of maze in the U-shaped drive, carefully trimmed and pruned. It was smaller than some of the manor houses she’d visited in England, but there was a grandeur to it just the same. And a hominess that she hadn’t expected. Perhaps it was due to the color of the stone, warmer and more welcoming than the cold, gray-white granite she was used to.

She ran through names in her head, desperate to make sure she adhered to the proper forms of address. King Alexander—clearly Your Highness. And how often would she see him anyway? Hardly ever. She’d be with the other household staff. She’d have to communicate with Raoul, she supposed. She would be required to curtsy. He was the crown prince and would be addressed as “Your Highness” as well. If the press was to be believed, Diego wouldn’t be home much and was unlikely to be around. The Sun had just posted pictures of him somewhere in South America.

After Marco pulled to a stop, Rosalie’s door was opened by another liveried staff. “Good afternoon, Miss Walters. Welcome to Marazur.”

She pasted on a smile and let out what she hoped was a centering breath. “Thank you.”

“His Highness is looking forward to meeting you at four o’clock in the blue salon.” Perhaps he’d noticed her shaky exhale, because the man dropped his stiff formality for a moment and smiled. “Don’t worry, Miss.” He held out his hand and gallantly helped her out of the car. “The prince is really very nice. And we’re all so glad you’re here.”

Before she could ask what exactly that meant, he dropped her hand and moved to collect her bags. She looked around, marveling at the calm beauty of the grounds. It was like a beautiful oasis, more lush than the surrounding countryside, with shrubs, graceful trees, and gardens of rioting blossoms. She gawked around her as they made their way down a neat path leading to the far side of the castle. And when the man opened the door to the north wing, Rose was relatively sure she’d just arrived in Paradise.

Interested in reading further? You can buy it on Amazon as of tomorrow morning, August 1st 2017.

Happy reading,

Loes M.

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