RogerBW's Blog

A Princess in Theory, Alyssa Cole 08 February 2020

2018 romance. Naledi Smith is studying epidemiology in New York while waitressing to pay the bills, and really doesn't have time for those emails claiming to be from an African prince to whom she was betrothed as a child. But Prince Thabiso is real…

Well now. Much as I enjoyed Vision in White, this is a romance not only of a different colour (one does rather get the impression that many romance writers are determined not to offend those of their readers who still feel bitter about the end of segregation in the USA, not to say the Civil War) but several steps closer to reality.

Not that Thabiso knows that. He's rich and important enough to have been been insulated from the idea that actions in his personal life have consequences, and while he's certainly not a bad person, he's got a lot of growing up to do. So what to him is a small amusing romantic gesture turns into a major disruption in Naledi's life that might jeopardise her entire career, and that difference of viewpoint is the major gulf that the couple will have to bridge.

She had exams and a possibly fucked-up practicum to worry about. There was no time for a handsome, bearded foreign man who wanted to cook for her.

Wait, when you put it like that…

Ledi's used to facing casual racism and sexism (indeed there's no real distinction in her experience of the two, simply an assumption of inferior status) while working in a scientific field, and Cole's done her research on how smart technical people often think and talk.

Being outwardly friendly while keeping people at a distance was second nature to Ledi. She thought of it as her social phospholipid bilayer: flexible, dynamic, and designed to keep the important parts of herself separate from a possibly dangerous outside environment. It had been working for the prokaryotes for eons, and it would suffice for a broke grad school student, which was only slightly higher on the evolutionary scale.

It all gets a bit sketched-in towards the end, with multiple strands of plot getting only cursory resolutions and even the main romance ending on a "we probably will" much more than a "yes". Thabiso's country of Thesolo obviously couldn't have worked if it had been a real place, but feels a bit too thoroughly set up to provide what the author needs it to. (Which any place would be, of course, but it shouldn't show.)

It's not perfect, and suffers somewhat from having to follow the romance templates, but there are enough individual touches that I enjoyed it and I'll read more in the series.

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See also:
Vision in White, Nora Roberts

Series: Reluctant Royals | Next in series: A Duke by Default

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