Published by Avon on February 27, 2018
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Synopsis: Her parents’ early death and a succession of foster homes haven’t made grad student Naledi Smith very open or trusting. But when the handsome new waiter Jamal reports for work at her side gig, Ledi gives into the undeniable attraction. Since her parents left Thesolo never to return, Prince Thabiso has missed the little girl he was betrothed to as a child. After she ignores several emails, he goes to New York City to meet Naledi in person. But what better way to get to know her than as the waiter Jamal she mistakes him for?
A Princess in Theory is my second read from author Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series. I enjoyed A Duke by Default, but I loved this one. I slipped into the story, wrapped it around myself like a Snuggie blanket, and didn’t want to move.
The Characters: Ms. Cole has a way of developing extremely layered, authentic characters with relatable flaws. I felt like I knew Ledi, but more…wanted to know her. Her brusk, whip smart, and snarky demeanor (which I loved) hides the unworthiness of a child who never had the unconditional love of a family.
And Jamal/Thabiso! Well, any woman would want to meet a drop dead gorgeous man exuding pure confidence, but with hints of vulnerability. He’s like an M&M…hard on the outside, soft inside, sweet all over.
The Romance: I have a love/hate relationship with royal romances. More on that in another post. Though Naledi and Thabiso’s story is a sweet fairy tale, there’s so much real life in it that the reader doesn’t have to suspend all disbelief to enjoy. And sweet as it is, this fairy tale has its share of steamy chemistry. The fire between Ledi and Thabiso right from the outset nearly melted my HD Fire tablet. Beautiful love scenes, especially the one in the cave. Ooh la la!
Attention to Detail: Alyssa Cole dives into her characters’ lives and brings them alive in Technicolor. She uses accessible bits and pieces of Naledi’s life as an epidemiology grad student and weave the rather dry subject matter intot he story in fun ways — like the Grams, the lab rats she rescued. Loved the name, because it signified grams as a weight unit, but also Grams as in the grandparents Ledi doesn’t have.
And don’t get me started on the romance of a blanket dotted with tiny gonorrhea bacillus shapes. How could that be romantic? Gotta read it to believe it.
The author’s imagination also brought to life the tiny country of Thesolo with special drinks, clothes, patterns, language, topography, goddesses, and traditions. I was reminded of Wakanda Forever.
Liza’s Fave Line:
It can be a beautiful day outside, then you step onto a train platform and it’s like you’re standing in the devil’s asscrack.
The author knows how to turn a phrase for all occasions: amusement, poignancy, sadness, fear, whatever. But this one really stuck with me. Maybe you have to be a New Yorker to relate, but I don’t think so.