Joint Review: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

Reviewed by Sara and Caitlin

Sara: A Princess in Theory was one of my favorite books of 2018 and yet, somehow I forgot to review it. Caitlin also listed it as one of her favorites and also didn’t review it. Luckily, there’s no expiration dates on great books. Enjoy our joint review below.

A fresh retelling of the classic Cinderella story, A Princess in Theory begins with our heroine Naledi “Ledi” Smith receiving some spam in her inbox. Ledi isn’t dumb enough to believe the email claiming she’s the long lost and Goddess ordained princess of Thesolo, a small African nation, but it brings up feelings and desires that she can’t ignore. Passed around in the foster care system after the death of her parents, stuck at two jobs in which she’s not appreciated and living out of a shoebox apartment while she completes her Epidemiology Masters degree, Ledi struggles with belonging and fitting in. Being a princess, even if it’s too good to be true, would be a vast improvement to the life Ledi’s been living.

Prince Thasibo of Thesolo has come to New York with one purpose, to confront his his betrothed and bring her home so they can be married. What he finds is a hard working and patient woman who has no idea about her heritage, history or him. In a very Prince and the Pauper turn of events, Thasibo is able to spend time getting to know Ledi without her knowing he’s a prince. Thasibo finds this enlightening, especially considering the chemistry the two have together.

Caitlin: See, it’s so funny you say it’s a classic Cinderella story (it totally is) because I kept thinking of Coming to America. I think Frolic described this book as Coming to America meets The Princess Diaries, and that’s exactly what it is.

And I loved it.

From the engagement since they were born to the well-built mystery about why Ledi’s family left for America, this book is a sweet, frothy, royal fairy tale that borrows from so many wonderful different sources. Alyssa Cole does a fantastic job of keeping everything together. I loved watching Ledi and Thasibo get to know each other outside their royal trappings, in the shoebox apartments where they both live (she because that’s what she can afford; he because he’s trying to get to know her).

Sara: Of course the truth always comes out and Thasibo is left with a betrothed that no longer wants anything to do with him right when he needs her most. A plague of illness is ravishing Thesolo and Ledi’s expertise in Epidemiology, the study of disease and infection in regards to public health, is needed desperately. This is the perfect opportunity for Ledi to gain valuable, hands-on experience for her Masters programs and learn about where she comes from, the only catch is that she will have to do it pretending to be Thasibo’s fiance.

There’s so many elements of A Princess in Theory that I enjoyed. I love a good Cinderella retelling and Ledi makes the perfect Cinderella. She’s smart and funny, hardworking and generous. These traits, along with her sad backstory and current struggles, make Ledi the kind of character you want to see swept away by a handsome prince. Since I’m also a bit of a sucker for the prince in hiding trope and the fake fiancé trope, Alyssa Cole rings pretty much all rings all my bells with A Princess in Theory.

Caitlin: I am also such a sucker for the fake fiancé trope. Cannot get enough of it.

And the way Ledi found out he was the prince both added tension and didn’t make Thasibo look like a jerk. Which is a very fine line to walk. Well done!

The pace just picked up even more when they made it to Thesolo. There’s so much intrigue – another hot button of mine – while at the same time not being a parody of itself. There are allies who just want the prince to be happy, but there are also misunderstandings that lead otherwise good people to behave poorly. I am typically a lot more invested in the romance than side plots, but I wanted so badly to learn the reasons for old hurts that never seemed to heal.

Sara: One of the things that really grabbed my attention with A Princess in Theory was Alyssa Cole’s use of the Nigerian Prince email scams. I don’t know anyone who’s ever had an email address that hasn’t had the joy of opening an email from a random Nigerian prince. The fact that Alyssa Cole took this completely mundane experience and wove it into this magical, heartfelt story is genius.

Caitlin: I loved this novel. I personally can’t decide which one I liked more – this one or A Duke by Default – but I think this is such an easy recommend for anyone, both romance lovers and genre newbies alike.

Sara: I don’t have a single negative thing to say about A Princess in Theory. Every element, from the storyline to the entire cast of characters is well done. Even the cover art is fantastic. If you haven’t checked out A Princess in Theory you need to sort yourself out and get on that immediately.

Caitlin grade: A-

Sara grade: A

Click to purchase: Amazon

A Princess in Theory
by Alyssa Cole
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Avon 

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