Early Review: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole @avonbooks

May Contain Spoilers

I took one look at the cover for A Princess in Theory and I wanted to read it. Lusted after it, really.  I love the colors and the textures, but most especially I love look of adoration on the models’ faces.  I wish someone other than my dogs would look at me like that. Maybe Dean does when I suggest another trip to WDW, but those looks are few and far between (in fairness to him, I am SURE I am just not looking at him and therefore missing those gazes of pure adoration).

Naledi is a grad student, studying epidemiology. She is over-worked, under funded, and stressed to the max. She is also annoyed by the rash of scam emails she has been receiving from some conman claiming to be from Thesolo, and stating that she is betrothed to Prince Thabiso. Yeah, whatever, she doesn’t have time for such non-sense. After a particularly bad day, she finally breaks her resolve and emails back a big fat F YOU to the sender of the annoying  emails. Go scam someone else, you loser! I have work to do.

Back in Thesolo, the prince and his assistant are overjoyed. They finally have a lead on Thabiso’s missing princess to be, and make plans to journey to New York to deal with some Thesolo business, as well as the missing betrothed. What Ledi doesn’t know is that she really is betrothed to an African prince, and that her parents, friends of the king and queen, deserted the country years ago. Tragically, they were killed in an accident, so Ledi was shuffled from foster home to foster home until she aged out of the system.

I really liked Ledi. Even though she caused her own heart-aches by being so unapproachable, deep down she wants nothing more than to be loved and cherished. Giving up on that dream, she settles for hookups, where she can love ‘em and leave ‘em with her heart still intact. She isn’t about to get emotionally involved with any man, not when all she’s known is disappointment and heartbreak.

When Thabiso goes to confront Ledi at one of her jobs, she confuses him with a new server and puts him to work. At first taken aback by this treatment, Thabiso finds that he enjoys being someone other than His Royal Highness. Ledi tells him what she’s really feeling, and doesn’t pull any punches. He’s just a regular guy to her, and he finds that novel and exciting. Taking on the persona of Jamal, he pretends to be something that he’s not – and then has serious misgivings when he starts to fall for Ledi. How can she ever trust him after she discovers that he’s lied about who he is?

I thought A Princess in Theory was a fun read. Ledi is very relatable, and her determination to do everything by herself, for herself, resonated. She has never had anyone she could count on, and even her best friend could be a flake. Instead of inviting disappointment, she refuses to ask for help. There is nothing she can’t handle. Until she finds herself so over her head, she has no choice but to learn to rely on others.

I thought that the villain was way too obvious, as well as the source of the illness striking down the populace of Thesolo, but the book was such a joy I didn’t mind. I wish Thabiso’s parents hadn’t been such a-holes, but even that was understandable given what they thought they knew of Ledi’s parents’ betrayal. If you are looking for a Cinderella retelling with a modern setting, this might be your crack. 

Grade: 4.00 stars

Review copy provided by publisher

About the book:

From acclaimed author Alyssa Cole comes the tale of a city Cinderella and her Prince Charming in disguise . . .
Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.
Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.
The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?