Review of “A Princess in Theory” (Reluctant Royals #1) by Alyssa Cole

Cole, Alyssa. A Princess in Theory. New York: Avon Books, 2018 ISBN-13: 978-0-06-268554-4, $7.99 USD. 

4 stars

A Princess in Theory is overall a great book, but not without its flaws. While I felt like the first half of the book was well-done, establishing who Ledi and Thabiso are and building the relationship between them, once it hits the middle, the book does fall flat slightly. I feel the mystery element as far as what was going on with Ledi’s parents and the mysterious illness was compelling, but the story ended with some unanswered questions. And despite there being a major reveal at the halfway point for Ledi, I didn’t feel like that or how it impacts her relationship with Thabiso going forward, is properly addressed, even though the premise is that she’s his betrothed, and his family intend to honor it by the end, despite entertaining other options. While I understand that the characters have more modern notions of romance, given the subgenre, I still wanted more closure there.

However, I did really like Ledi and Thabiso, and how their characters are written contrary to expectations of both their character types and the popular hero and heroine types in romance. Thabiso does kind of have a bit of a sense of entitlement, due to his upbringing as royalty, but he is definitely a sweet guy at his core, and the opposite of the typical alpha hero (one particularly fun, meta moment is when he mentions sneaking his mother’s Mills & Boon books).  Ledi is very different from the nerdy, quiet characters you stereotypically think of in people in STEM fields, and I like that there is equal focus put on her relationship with the sometimes problematic relationship with her best friend as there is on her professional life and her developing romance with Thabiso. The character are also complemented by great world-building through the development of the Thesoloian religion and culture, which only enriches this story.

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