Rating: 4 stars out of 5
In this third installment, we finally get to know more about Ru Maitland. He was Shaz’s sidekick and best friend on Knight of Ocean Avenue, and we get to see him again briefly in Knave of Broken Heart. As soon as this story starts, we learned about Ru’s obsession with actor Gray Anson. He had dedicated his free time to watch Gray’s movies over and over for the last couple of years in order to compensate for his lack love life.
Ru is getting ready to present his first collection as part of New York’s Fashion Week. But before he starts working on these designs, he takes part of a charity event, unveiling several designs. This local fashion show opens the door for Ru to be offered the opportunity to create the costumes for an adaptation of Hamlet at the local Playhouse. He has planned to decline the invitation until he finds out that Gray Anson has accepted the lead during opening week.
A random encounter the night of the charity fashion show sets the stage for Ru’s past and present to collide. We get to see him struggle as he tries to deal with all the responsibilities from the play and New York Fashion Week as he manages to keep his ghosts at bay. His world starts to spiral out of control when Gray is added to the mix, and their newfound relationship starts meeting with the life he had left behind.
On the other hand, Gray Anson is set on making his relationship with Ru work. He has a lot of people depending on him, and he feels pressure to keep appearances at all time. As he tries to get a go with Ru, he stays in the closet, using famous females to cover for him. The rumors of his sexuality are taking a toll on him and those surrounding him.
In the end, it’s up to Ru and Gray to keep their individual lives under wraps in order to enjoy their stolen times together.
Prince of the Playhouse is full of clichés, stereotypes, and troupes as the previous books in the series, but they worked well with the main characters and their hopes for a future together. This is an easy read, even when drama is involved. The author did an excellent job filling the gaps between serious topics and situations with a healthy dose of comedic relief.
The secondary characters are outstanding. The characterizations were entertaining and their histories and relationships relevant. Together, they gave the story a frame of reference, setting the atmosphere and helping the plot move forward. Even fillers had a purpose to exist. The setting too played an important role in Ru’s life and the events of the story. We get to revisit some locations used in previous books as well.
One of the reasons I didn’t give this book a five-star rating was Ru’s obsession with Gray. Its intensity was overwhelming before they met in person, but at the same time felt forced. Almost, like the first steps taken by a stalker. And the way Gray got smitten by Ru, seemed a little unbelievable. He had two personalities, his big superstar facade, and his reserved, almost shy private persona.
Overall, this story is worth reading as part of the series. It can be read as a stand-alone or out of order, but it’s easier to understand Ru’s and Shaz’s relationship if read in order. The characters from book #2 weren’t even mentioned here.
The cover by Reese Dante follows suit with the previous two books. It works well as part of a series, and at the same time, give us a clear image of Ru— from his sense of fashion to his confidence.
ebook, 240 pages
Published: April 4, 2016, by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English