Review – A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

Posted March 26, 2018 by smutmatters in Contemporary, Reviews / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from Avon in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review – A Princess in Theory by Alyssa ColeA Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
Series: Reluctant Royals #1
Series Rating: four-stars
Published by Avon on February 27th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 360
Format: Paperback
Source: Avon
Barnes & Noble
Apple Books

From acclaimed author Alyssa Cole comes the tale of a city Cinderella

and her Prince Charming in disguise . . .

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

Have you seen that cover? I mean… really. Have you looked at this gorgeous cover? I was so excited to get this in my latest Avon book mail. I’m pretty sure I squealed out loud when I saw it.

The book itself was a little weird for me. I loved it. I really did, and yet it took me weeks to get through it. I kept putting it down and not picking it back up. Then I’d pick it back up and end up sucked back in to the point that I missed meals and my dogs didn’t get outside. I was completely wrapped up in Thesolo.

Ledi was my favorite kind of heroine. She’s smart, she’s good at her job, she’s sex-positive, and comfortable in her own skin in a way we don’t see all the time. But she’s also profoundly insecure, afraid that no one truly loves her or ever will. She feels like she’s one mistake or argument away from being left behind or abandoned. As a result, she lets everyone treat her like garbage. She refers to herself more than once as “defective Velcro”, as in nothing and no one sticks to her. One of her co-workers makes her do all of his work on top of her own, and she lets it happen. Portia, her ‘best friend’, and I use that term loosely on purpose, is horrible to her. She’s some sort of trust fund baby, and has absolutely zero respect for the fact that Ledi has to work. She shows up drunk in the middle of the night, insisting that Ledi take care of whatever drama she’s come up with, despite knowing that Ledi has to be up for work early in the morning. If Ledi dare to be doing something else when Portia decides she needs Ledi, Portia pouts, calls Ledi names, and refuses to speak to her anymore. She’s truly terrible.

Prince Thabiso was…. he was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I really don’t like romances that are based on one of the parties lying to the other. And this was a whopper of a lie. A lie with multiple layers. Not only was he not telling Ledi who he was, he wasn’t telling her who she was, either. Her parents died when she was young enough that she barely remembers them, and she has absolutely no sense of her own history. No idea where she came from. Thabiso knows all of this. And by not telling her who he is, he’s also not telling her who she is. I understood how Ledi could be charmed by him, because he was absolutely charming. For me, though, that charm was tinged by knowing how deep his lies went.

So why did I rate this one so high? That’s all because of Alyssa Cole. Her writing is beautiful. Her characters are so well drawn, so unflinchingly flawed and real, that I can’t help but fall in love with them. Everything I’ve read by her has left me similarly delighted. Thabiso could have been a one-note spoiled prince, and he was absolutely spoiled, but he was also deeply invested in improving the lives of the people in Thesolo, and was a prince in a lot more than name only. I thought his complete cluelessness at the most basic of life skills was hilarious.

If I had one complaint about this book, it’s that I thought too much of it took place in New York, and not enough of it in Thesolo. Alyssa did a great job building this world, and I wanted to spend more time in it. I’m also not sure what the exact plan is at the end. Obviously Ledi and Thabiso get their HEA, but I can’t tell exactly how that’s going to go. There’s more to the series, but the next one doesn’t involve Thesolo, so I don’t know how much of them we’ll see.

Go get this book. Read this book. Then go ahead and pre-order the next one.

About Alyssa Cole

Alyssa Cole is an award-winning author of historical, contemporary, and SFF romance. Her Civil War-set espionage romance AN EXTRAORDINARY UNION is the winner of the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018. She’s contributed to publications including Shondaland, The Toast, Vulture, RT Book Reviews, and Heroes and Heartbreakers, and her books have received critical acclaim from The New York Times, Library Journal, Kirkus, Booklist, Jezebel, Vulture, Book Riot, Entertainment Weekly, and various other outlets. When she’s not working, she can often be found watching anime with her husband or wrangling their menagerie of animals. She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary.