Review: A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole

Reviewed by Debz

This is my first time reviewing an Alyssa Cole book. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t read any of her books. I’ve read most of them, but so has everyone else. I’m always last to hear about them, but yesterday, my luck changed and I immediately called dibs. I was sooo excited to read this y’all I’m not even playing. I expected great things and she delivered.

This is the 3rdbook in her Reluctant Royal series and if focuses on Nya Jarebi, cousin of Naledi Smith (female protagonist in A Princess in Theory) and Johan, best friend of Prince Thabiso (male protagonist in A Princess in Theory). The relationship is super organic so there was no need for a super dramatic meet cute but it was still pretty memorable. They’d both been eyeing and ignoring each other for 2 years and are forced into having a conversation when the mistakenly share a bed together on a plane.

I’ve read so many books, and it seems that most rich and powerful men in romancelandia have this same problem/attitude to life. It’s the phenomenon where world renowned playboys are actually secret nerds with a heart of gold, who don’t want to get hurt so they put on a nonchalant façade for the world. It’s a trope that’s so well executed here. Prince Johan has been in the public eye most of his life. Even his mother, Queen Laetitia died in the public eye when he was still a teenager and he had to navigate the media’s macabre fascination with his grief. In an extreme reaction to this, he has become hardened and closed off to love, cynical, and overprotective of the people he loves. In order to further protect himself, he has created an alter ego of him self, Prince Jo-Jo, an extroverted loudmouth doing all the outrageous things, that he shows to the world.

On the other hand, Nya is the opposite of an extrovert. She is shy and unassuming. She knows she blends into the background and is used to being thought of as weak and silly. After finding out that her Father had been poisoning her to keep her weak and docile, she leaves her home country to New York for grad school and finds out the big city with all its people and griminess and stress is really not for her as well. And I relate to this sooo much. I can personally say that I have lived in a couple big cities and the sheer amount of people give me anxiety. I totally relate to Nya’s need to live in a modern world, albeit a fairly medium sized one.

Nya and Johan officially meet during Naledi and Thabiso’s wedding weekend and through a series of misconstrued events (the bedroom, sauana and gazebo incidents) they decide to enter into a fake engagement for both their sakes. You see Johan’s country is about to have a referendum on whether they need to phase out the monarchy (his family) or not and his being with her seemed to boost the public’s love for the royal family. It was so refreshing that Johan told Nya the reason for his proposal upfront. She wasn’t confused about  him loving her and she went into it with open eyes. It was also super progressive of them to lay the facts bare to their closest friends and family. 

The other half of this book takes place in Liechtienbourg, Johan’s home country as he campaigns with his people in order to keep the monarchy alive. Not for himself per se, but for his little brother Lukas. This part of the book was so new and interesting for me, and it was a learning experience I appreciated. I’m Nigerian, and no matter how liberal my views are and how many countries I’ve lived in, I’m going to admit that my knowledge of gender has been binary. I do not have any first hand experience with non-binary people so it was a lesson to see a character identify as non-binary and teach their family how to address them. In this current climate, I was surprised with how accommodating everyone was with the revelation that Prince/Prinxe Lukas was non-binary. But let’s be honest, Europe is so much more liberal than America so this rings true. The cutest thing was the current King trying to lovingly navigate how to address his child. He was so interested and willing to learn. I stan an ally. 

I feel like I could write a 2 page essay on this book and that would defeat the purpose of  this being a medium length review, so I’m going to stop while I’m ahead. I only have great things to say about this book and it is no wonder Alyssa Cole is so celebrated right now. She has a special power to include social issues like racism, sexuality and politics into her books; teaching you a lesson without being judgmental about it. Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. It was a joy to read it. 

Rating: A ( I stayed up all night for this and I’m yet to sleep….SO YOU KNOW it’s good)

Click to purchase: Amazon

A Prince on Paper
by Alyssa Cole
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Publisher: Avon

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