In the tradition of Princess Grace and Princess Diana, Bartlett’s heroine is thrust into the spotlight to lead a life both decadent and tragic.
Isabella Cordage was born a minor player in the royal circles of Bisbania, a small mythical country in Europe. Her candor and ease allow her to become the Prince of Gallagher’s closest female confidant. Though her social status makes her an improbable candidate for queen, Isabella manages to stand out amidst a gaggle of royal sycophants and capture the prince’s heart. Now under the scrutiny of paparazzi, who dub her Princess Izzy, Isabella finds that her life has become fodder for the tabloids. And she has one secret: a friendship with an American mechanic many years before her engagement. While attending Yale, Geoffrey performed weekly maintenance on Isabella’s automobile. During the routine car-bomb inspections, the two developed an easy camaraderie, and he introduced her to the poetic lyrics of Bruce Springsteen (hence the title). The couple managed a brief kiss, redolent with romantic possibility, before Isabella returned home. Now positioned to be queen, she worries about a photograph that may have been snapped of this kiss. In order to keep her past a secret and stave off a pre-wedding press bonanza, Isabella decides to buy Geoffrey’s silence, offering him a position at the castle. Though he would never think of extorting Isabella, the lure of financial security and the glamour afforded by living among royalty bring Geoffrey and his young wife to Bisbania. This sets in motion a course of events that leaves the reader frantically flipping pages to solve the fantastic riddles hidden within. Bartlett’s narrative voice is whimsical without ever being absurd; her only fault is her overly ambitious attempt to pull off one too many devastating revelations: Plane crashes, paternity questions and romantic entanglements are more than enough to keep the plot zooming along.
A royally original and captivating debut.