A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

I’m a sucker for a good royal story – something about how it feels like a modern fairytale really appeals to me. Naturally, this book really appealed to me, so when I finally sat down to read it, I was very excited to read it. Sadly, this book was a massive let down for me. It was very predictable, mildly misogynistic, and featured a major pushover of a female lead.

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?

Dear god, this was predictable. I went into it thinking that it would focus on a bad-ass, feminist career woman who happened to fall for a prince. That’s certainly what the author wants you to believe, but in reality the main character was a Mary-Sue who got bowled over by the men in her life and completely lacked a backbone. The male lead was pretty over the top misogynistic and manipulative. The fact that the female lead ever wanted to see him again after his deception blows my mind. I think that fact alone ruined the book for me.

This book lacked chemistry – which really made the overtly sexual nature of the book jarring. Thabiso and Naledi’s whole relationship was built on lies, and was very nonsensical – the author kept trying to force their relationship, but it never felt organic or earned. All of the milestones in their relationship felt like Naledi was manipulated into – it was super creepy and coercive. Even the side characters (especially Thabiso’s parents) were over the top verbally abusive or pushy with Naledi. I wish at some point she would have acknowledged how fucked up her situation was or just walked away from it. I feel like in this situation, I would have been happier without a ‘happy ending’.

I would highly recommend giving this book a pass. Between the poor characterization, the total lack of chemistry, and the misogynistic nonsense, this book had me pulling at my hair and struggling to finish (despite how short it is). If you’re looking for a cute romantic royal story, check out The Royal We or The Selection2/5

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  1. I had the same thoughts! I was in the mood for a Cinderella retelling so I picked it up, but the male lead just manipulated everything right from the start. He didn’t let her choose any time and it annoyed the heck out of me.

  2. Oh, it’s so disappointing when something you’re looking forward to is rubbish! Have to say, great & clear review but will be giving this book a hard pass

  3. I haven’t seen great reviews for this one. I really hate when characters are so cliche. It just ruins your enjoyment of the book. Sorry you didn’t like it as much as you wanted

  4. Wow, it’s interesting how people can have such total different tastes! I loved this series (though this book was perhaps the weakest of the series overall.) I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in the final book in the series, A Prince on Paper.

    I tried to read The Selection because of HARD cover love, but thought it was trite and boring. Now I clearly need to go read your other romance reviews to see if we have opposite tastes or not, haha. 🙂 I don’t agree with your assessment, but great review. I like how you spell out exactly what you didn’t like about the book.

  5. I hate when you go into a book thinking you’ll get one thing but get something else that isn’t good. I also don’t understand why there’s books where females constantly let themselves be manipulated and never do anything about it or learn from it.

  6. Thank you for the honest review! The premise is indeed very interesting, such a bummer when a book does not live up to your expectations. I hope your next read will be a good one!

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