Yeah, bit of an OUCH!
But then I looked at my work again and I could t.o.t.a.l.l.y see where she was coming from. If a reader doesn't get it or isn't pulled in, then that book isn't flying off the shelf...if it even gets published.
Here's my (hopefully improved) first 287 words, tweaked after the critique by Janice Hardy and the earlier critique by my writer friend in England.
“Why, in the name of all things decent, did I let you convince me to ride the last seven leagues in this cursed conveyance?” Cornelius allowed his peevishness and embarrassment to burst out as he clenched his ridiculous crown. It had been jolted off his head for a sixth, and final, time.
His cousin, Henri, Marquis d’Ivrea, was unperturbed. “It is merely a carriage, your Majesty.”
“It’s the devil’s own invention is what it is! Cloth and timber cobbled together to make a coffin on wheels.”
“You are sitting upright, your Majesty, not laying down dead.”
Wriggling in the snug tunic, Cornelius gave his cousin a pleading look. “I’d rather be riding my horse! The men back there were right, only gentle-ladies and the infirm ride in these contraptions.” He scrubbed the sweat from his face with a limp handkerchief, longing for the cooler air of his mountains. “It is absolutely stifling in here! Doesn’t help my nerves to be lurching about in this oven. I don’t think I could save face if I heaved my lunch on the princess’ feet. What a way to impress one’s future bride!”
His cousin allowed only a sliver of a smile to appear.
“Or, I should say my possible future bride.” Cornelius amended, feeling his stomach give a nervous flip. I’m not ready. She’ll know I’m a poseur.
He crossed his arms and felt his face fall into the scowl that was becoming customary. He knew he looked like a stubborn four-year-old; Henri had told him so this morning during their last argument. “Oh, and if you don’t want me in an evil temper when we arrive at this castle, could you leave off calling me ‘Your Majesty’ in private?”
We like critiques. They hurt like alcohol on an scraped knee, but that sting prompts us to fix what ever needs fixing. And who doesn't want to get better, improve, become absolutely knock your socks off?
I know I do!