RogerBW's Blog

A Prince on Paper, Alyssa Cole 22 February 2023

2019 romance, third in the Reluctant Royals series. Nya Jerami, daughter of the man who tried to overthrow the Thesolan government, finds herself thrown together with Prince Johan Maximillian von Braustein, bad boy darling of the tabloids…

So we're back to the made-up countries, with the tiny Franco-German state of "Liechtienbourg", but at least it is explicitly a made-up country. I can accept Ruritania, Lutha and Graustark in their contexts, so this is fair enough. And a voluntary referendum to determine whether the Liechtienbourgeois monarchy will continue in power, or abdicate, while poorly planned (it lets the opposition unite all the proponents of different new systems under a single banner), seems distressingly plausible. (More heavy-handed is naming the leader of the anti-monarchists "Arschlocher" with behaviour to match; I'd have preferred it if they'd been shown to have an actual point rather than merely being opposed to the Good Guys.)

Both of the principals have a great deal of baggage, in terms both of what others have expected of them and of the images they've chosen to present to the world, and it's good to see them trying to negotiate that as they progress from friendship to fake engagement to admitted love. Which is why it's a little disappointing that in the last chapters everything is suddenly made all right with a bit of straight talking, while great big issues that I've been caring about all this time remain unmentioned. It's an imbalance in the book that seemed unexpected, as though it were a stock happy ending pasted onto what had been something rather more sophisticated.

Definitely an improvement on the rather disappointing second book, though I'd certainly recommend having read the first before coming in here. None of the books in this series (three novels, two novellas) is great, but they're all enjoyable, and mostly they do a decent job of combining romance tropes with genuine female agency.

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Previous in series: Can't Escape Love | Series: Reluctant Royals

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