A 30-something's lovingly sarcastic journey through all of Sweet Valley High, and then some

Archive for February, 2013

#91 In Love with a Prince

Marry me Dana, and you shall only wear the finest ugly outfits from now on!

Marry me Dana, and you shall only wear the finest ugly outfits from now on!

Liz’s longtime pen pal, Arthur Castillo, the Crown Prince of Santa Dora, is coming to visit Sweet Valley as the first stop on his first world tour. Background: Santa Dora is a tiny (fictional) country located near Spain and France. Liz met Arthur when they became pen pals in sixth grade. There’s a Sweet Valley Twins book that revolves around this story called Princess Elizabeth. Maybe I’ll review that one next, because it sounds hysterical, with Jessica pretending to be Liz and outing Arthur as a prince to everyone, and the Unicorns (Jessica’s snobby middle school club) throwing a cheesy royal-themed party for him, which apparently sucked a bag of dicks .. the party, not the Unicorns.

Wooo! So Arthur arrives and everyone’s going nuts – everyone but Dana Larson, who thinks royalty is an “outdated” idea and that Prince Arthur is probably the snottiest person ever to grace the earth. Jessica, on the other hand, gleefully immerses herself in Arthur-mania (as one would expect). Jess is sure that the Prince is going to fall in love with her and that Sam will just have to “share” her with him. Didn’t she have this same attitude in Soap Star? And that one ended real well. Oh, Sweet Valley, land where you never have to actually learn anything so long as you’re a Wakefield.

Jessica tells Sam he’s not invited to a special luncheon that Liz is holding for Arthur on the day of his arrival. Jess uses the excuse that she doesn’t think Liz is planning to invite anyone but her own nerdy friends, which is obviously bullshit, so who knows how Sam’s going to react to that one. Jessica also tells Lila she isn’t invited, noting that although she’s glad Lila has gotten back to her old self and become a force against sexual assault and rape, that doesn’t mean Jessica is about to let her steal a dude from her again. Lila is pissed as hell because she’s sure Jessica is too ordinary for someone like Arthur. Meanwhile, Todd is jealous and thinks it’s Liz Arthur has his eye on. Liz promises to set Arthur straight after he arrives.

Along with Liz’s luncheon, Jessica is going to throw her own big party to impress Arthur, and to presumably make a weak attempt at one-upping the big extravagant party Mr. Fowler is already planning to host for him at Fowler Crest later. Jessica wants The Droids to play her bash, and they’re all for it except for Dana. So Jessica drags Dana to the airport with her and Liz to meet Arthur as he arrives because she wants Dana to decide he’s a nice guy and agree to play (which of course Dana does agree to, before Arthur even steps off the damn plane). Dana is bowled over by how cute Arthur is, but tries to tell herself to get a grip, because she thinks her anti-royalty attitude makes her sooooo deep all of a sudden, and resolves to be a complete asshole to Arthur instead, so that he will what, exactly? Throw his crown on the ground and stomp on it and declare Sweet Valley is the only kingdom he’ll ever need, maybe? I’m not following her logic here.

Liz hosts her stupid Prince Arthur luncheon later that same day. Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield and Steven are nowhere to be seen, weird. Oh well, it’s already like a boring adult get-together anyway! Maybe I was just mega-immature at 16, I don’t know. Here are the SV kids at the luncheon: Liz, Jess, Todd, Ken, Terri, Enid, Hugh, Penny, and Dana. Um, great crowd. Arthur shows up with his bodyguards, Justino and Paolo, who promptly disappear from the rest of the scene and never say another word. I’m guessing they weren’t allowed to eat any of the seafood salad either and just had to stand there starving and glaring at everyone like they’re about to Krav Maga your ass. Dana sits at the table pouting at how much the other girls are fawning over Arthur and how everyone is going out of their way to get to know him and make him feel comfortable, just like, you know, you would any other freakin’ houseguest. F you Dana.

Liz takes a walk with Arthur and tells him she doesn’t think she made clear that she and Todd have been dating for a long time. Arthur says he is disappointed but that must mean Todd is a great guy if Liz loves him. He still seems to have something on his mind, but Liz actually does something very un-Liz like – she stays the fuck out of it.

Needless to say, Arthur is a huge hit at school, where he hangs out with everyone and attends their classes. Lila tries to ask him out, but he’s “booked solid”. She schemes to get close to him by hitting on his bodyguard Paolo instead, who is about 20 and a “hunk.” In Mr. Collins’ class, the class begins discussing Hamlet and Dana takes the opportunity to make some choice comments about how royalty “uses and abuses” people. She seriously comes off as a heinous bitch. Mr. Collins decides to schedule a debate between Arthur and Dana about whether royalty has any place in the late 20th century. It’s an interesting topic, but on the day of the debate, Dana basically uses her time deliver an impassioned speech about how royalty is bullshit because the United States stood up against it in the Revolutionary War, so therefore everyone else should do the same. She clearly didn’t do any actual research on Arthur’s (fictional) country and the functions the royal family serve in modern times, because he totally schools her and wins the debate. Also, he falls in love with her around the same time. After the debate, he tries to talk to her, but Dana flees the room in shame. At the Dairi Burger, Arthur tells Liz and Todd how he feels and sits around making dreamy comments about Dana’s eyes or some such shit. When Liz comes home, Jessica freaks out at Liz for not telling her Arthur was going to be at The Dairi Burger. You know, as much as I rag on Liz, Jessica has to be the most annoying sister on the face of the earth. Jess further drives home this point when she eavesdrops on Liz talking to Enid on the phone that same night. Liz is telling Enid about how Arthur has a huge crush on someone “spunky and beautiful and talented” which can only mean one person in Jessica’s mind … herself.

Jessica throws her big Arthur bash, and it’s a hit, but Arthur’s dance card is booked. He even dances with Lila twice (and splits a hamburger with her), but no room for a dance with Jess. Sam gets pissed off at Jessica for so obviously fawning over Arthur and storms out of the party. Gee Jess, it’s not like he saved your ass from a cult or anything. She is seriously the worst girlfriend ever. It cracks me up to see how she is in a serious, long-term (for SV standards, anyway) relationship though. It’s pretty much what I would’ve guessed.

Jessica’s night is officially ruined when Arthur asks Jessica to get Dana to dance with him. Serves a bitch right. Arthur and Dana dance the night away and Dana realizes she is in love with him. But if you’re thinking Jessica will have the worst morning ever, then you’ve already forgotten all we know about Jessica. Liz brings Jessica breakfast in bed, then sends Jess over to Sam’s to apologize, and Sam promptly forgives Jessica and they make out on his couch.

Arthur shows up at Dana’s house to take her on a surprise date. The next day, she brings him to her band practice. Meanwhile, Jessica and Lila are busy working to split the happy pair apart. They invite Paolo the dumbass bodyguard over to Fowler Crest to pump him for information on Arthur, which Paolo happily provides. The girls learn that Arthur is with Dana and that Arthur is in the U.S. trying to fulfill some mysterious “task” that is due before his 17th birthday. Paolo is a terrible guard. Not sure I would want this guy covering my ass let alone that of a ridiculously wealthy prince with a perpetual target on his head.

Jessica and Lila stalk Dana and Arthur, conspiring on how to split them apart. Lila feels nauseated when she sees Arthur kiss Dana’s hand because really, it should be her after all she’s been through. Oh, Lila. Arthur takes Dana out on a yacht where they kiss. Then Arthur comes over to the Wakefield house where he confesses to Elizabeth that he’s really in the United States because he is supposed to find a girl to marry before his 17th birthday or else his family will choose someone for him. He admits he had initially thought Liz might be a good person to ask. Oh, THAT would be a funny spin-off series! Liz tells Arthur he should tell Dana how he feels.

Lila and Jessica go through Liz’s journal looking for more information on Arthur’s “task” but although Liz’s journal mentions it, it never comes out and says what it is. Meanwhile, Arthur takes Dana out to La Maison Blanche and then for the typical walk on the beach, where he pops the question and gives Dana a giant rock. Dana tells him she needs more time to think it over. Arthur promises they can have a long engagement and finish college first if she says yes. The next morning, Dana tells her mom what happened and her mother freaks out with glee. Dana swears her to secrecy, but Mrs. Larson has a big ass mouth and she tells Sandy Bacon’s mom at the supermarket. When Dana goes to school, she’s hounded by reporters. Paolo speeds the couple away in the limo, where inside, Dana promises to have an answer to Arthur’s proposal ready by the night of Lila’s big party.

Lila goes to the library to do some investigation. She reads through newspaper articles on the microfiche machine (do they still have those?) where she learns about the tradition that the Crown Prince of Santa Dora must marry before his 17th birthday or a bride will be chosen for him by his parents. Lila sneakily confirms through Paolo that Dana doesn’t know about the tradition. Now she’s convinced this is all she needs to break them up and somehow make Arthur want to marry her instead, and get her away from the hell that is Sweet Valley. Anita Solarz from the Sweet Valley News (who we last saw in the Super Thrillers) contacts Dana for an interview and mentions the tradition to her. Dana freaks out and thinks Arthur lied to her and doesn’t really love her, just wanted to use her to avoid marrying the terrible girl his parents have picked out for him.

The book really goes downhill from here. Dana goes over to Arthur’s hotel room to scream and cry at him and make a huge scene. As is typical in all good dramas, she refuses to tell him why she is upset, just screams really nasty insults at him about what a typical rich boy he is, gives him back his ring (throws it at him, actually) and leaves. Arthur is heartbroken and confused (of course). Dana talks to Liz about what happened, but still refuses to talk with Arthur or to come to his farewell party at Fowler Crest, even after Liz confirms that Arthur really does love her. I really hate Dana right now. At the party, Arthur mopes around and Lila drapes herself all over him, and gets him to dance with her long enough for their picture to show up in the paper. Arthur has no interest in Lila and walks away in the middle of the dance, leaving her fuming by herself. The next day, Dana sees their picture in the paper and gets a totally different impression because she’s stupid. She now thinks Arthur is eagerly replacing her with Li. Blah, blah, at the last minute Dana realizes she was wrong and rushes to apologize to Arthur just before he leaves the country. Arthur says he’s already decided he will tell his parents he’s not going to adhere to their tired old tradition and he’ll marry when he’s good and ready. Then he asks Dana to marry him once again, because he does love her, and she says she’s not ready to be engaged yet. They agree to stay friends and try their relationship anew in a few years.

The sub-plot: This revolves around how John attacking Lila has left her so upset and confused that she’s starting to do crazy mean things like go all out to steal a nice boy for herself. I am so not trying to make light of what happened to Lila, but are they really trying to insinuate that boy-stealing is NOT normal Lila behavior?

This cover: The cover model looked SO familiar to me, and it started to drive me nuts. Then it hit me: That is a young Katherine Heigl modeling for this painting. I am sure of it. She was a model in her teenage years, and that smile is uniquely hers.

WTF? Arthur shows up to the luncheon in “the royal limousine” – um, so did they fly it over from Santa Dora or something?

Lynne Henry writes a song for Arthur called “Rule My Heart.” Yes, that’s what it’s freakin’ called! Arthur says it sounds “beautiful” but I think he just messed up his English and was trying to say “barf-inducing”

Jessica notes that Arthur’s accent is almost gone and he says it’s “the benefit of so much travel.” How is losing your accent a benefit? Also, I guess if she thinks he doesn’t have an accent that would mean he sounds American, but how does he sound American if this is his first trip to America in five years? (Speaking of that time frame, if it had really been five years, the twins would now be 17 since they were 12 in the Sweet Valley Twins books. For some reason, the publisher made the twins 12 in sixth grade, even though they doesn’t make sense – they’re 16 throughout all of SVH, so in order for that to line up with SVT, they would’ve had to be 11 in sixth grade. Whatever.)

Liz identifies Hugh as Enid’s “friend.” Hahaha. My dad used to do that when he would introduce my high school boyfriends to people. “This is my daughter and her good friend John.”

Prince Arthur’s parents are King Armand III and Queen Stephanie. Wonder why they didn’t want to name their first born son Armand IV?

Prince Arthur’s parents wanted to marry him off to Lady Tracy Windsor, also called “the British Brat” by the media … hahahaha.

In the back of the book: A single-page ad that reads “SWEET VALLEY will never be the same! Don’t miss the startling excitement, beginning in May, 1993, at your local bookstore.” Oh yes, the great series transformation is almost upon us! And I’m almost to the very last book of the “original” series I ever read. I’ve heard all kinds of nutty things about the later books, but have never experienced the full joy of them for myself.

Coming up next: Jessica is ready to try out for the lead in the school production of MacBeth. Coincidentally, there’s a shy new girl in school. These things couldn’t possibly have anything to do with one another … LOLZ!1 Also, I have a very special audio book review!

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