Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt YA Fiction Review

Title:  Princess for Hire

Author:  Lindsey Leavitt

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

ISBN: 9781423121923

From Amazon:

When an immaculately dressed woman steps out of an iridescent bubble and asks you if you’d like to become a substitute princess, do you

a) run

b) faint

c) say Yes!

For Desi Bascomb, who’s been longing for a bit of glamour in her Idaho life, the choice is a definite C–that is, once she can stop pinching herself.  As her new agent Meredith explains, Desi has a rare magical ability: when she applies the ancient Egyptian formula "Royal Rouge," she can transform temporarily into the exact lookalike of any princess who needs her subbing services. Dream come true, right?

Well, Desi soon discovers that subbing involves a lot more than wearing a tiara and waving at cameras. Like, what do you do when a bullying older sister puts you on a heinous crash diet? Or when the tribal villagers gather to watch you perform a ceremonial dance you don’t know? Or when a princess’s conflicted sweetheart shows up to break things off–and you know she would want you to change his mind?

Lindsey Leavitt’s debut novel, Princess for Hire, is an energetic romp that follows protagonist Desi as she gets to experience being a princess first hand.  Hired as a substitute when life is just too much for royalty, she fills in for young princesses with some help from a magic compact.  Applying a couple of swipes of enchanted blush alters her appearance so that she’s an identical twin to her current assignment.  She quickly discovers that while she is a dead-ringer for the princesses, she is pretty much clueless when it comes to acting like them. 

The thing I liked the best about Desi was her resourcefulness.  She gets dumped into situations where she has to rely on her noggin to get her through her impersonations, and given the limited guidance and training she has received, she does a very good job fumbling around in her roles.  When she sees that her princesses aren’t exactly basking in the good life, she decides that she will make a positive impact on their lives by initiating changes in their relationships with their families or friends.  Since she feels so helpless in her own life, she is determined to improve the lives of her employers.  Too bad it is against the rules of her employment contract!

Offering up a quick, light-hearted read, Princess for Hire proves that the grass is not always greener on the other side.  I thought that the adult roles were a little too one-dimensional, but Desi was an easy character to relate to.  She is dealing with self-esteem issues, and when she realizes that her princesses are too, she’s quick to find a solution to boost their morale.  The bonus is that she gets an ego lift at the same time, and she gets a new perspective on her own problems.  

For a feel good read, this whimsical novel is just the ticket for an uplifting escape from reality.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher