Romance Review Roundup: Vol. 8

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole (Reluctant Royals #1)

Publisher: Avon on February 27, 2018

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

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.

What if those persistent emails you got from someone claiming to be a Nigerian prince were actually legit? In A PRINCESS IN THEORY, Ledi Smith is dogged by emails from the assistant of Thabiso, Crown Prince of Thesolo, a small but flourishing African nation. Dismissing the emails as a scam, Ledi never expects the prince himself to show up in NYC looking for her.

Alyssa Cole consistently writes some of the best heroines I’ve ever encountered in romance and Ledi is no exception. Orphaned very young, Ledi has no ties to her heritage and no living relatives…that she’s aware of. Ledi’s future career and her current work as a graduate student are the most important things in her life, aside from her relationship with Portia, her only real friend. Ledi is guarded, gritty, and vulnerable, and I couldn’t help but love and root for her.

Thabiso is a little less likable, at least initially; not unexpected, given that he’s an incredibly wealthy and handsome prince. He’s never worked a service job and has a poor opinion of those who do, which at first includes Ledi, since they meet while she’s working a catering gig (she has major side hustle). Thankfully Thabiso wises up pretty quick, and we get to see the better side of him, the one who genuinely cares for his people and tries to negotiate trade deals that will protect their economic and environmental futures.

Ledi and Thabiso are something of an “odd couple” in terms of their respective circumstances, but they’re very good for one another. Ledi helps Thabiso open his eyes to the world around him, and Thabiso helps Ledi take better care of herself and open up to people. I liked seeing the two of them work as a couple, but more than anything I loved seeing Ledi grow more confident and comfortable with who she is.

A PRINCESS IN THEORY has great representation (both protagonists are black) and tackles some pretty serious issues, like the exploitation of women of colour’s labour in the workplace. I also appreciated the representation of female friendships, and I’m really looking forward to reading Portia’s story next.


A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase (Difficult Dukes #1)

Publisher: Avon on November 28, 2017

Source: Library

Hugh Philemon Ancaster, seventh Duke of Ripley, will never win prizes for virtue. But even he draws the line at running off with his best friend’s bride.

A DUKE IN SHINING ARMOR is a fun, frothy historical road trip romp. That’s right y’all: road trip romance.

To guarantee the futures of her many younger siblings, Lady Olympia Hightower has agreed to marry one of the infamous dukes known as the Disgraces (heh). The only problem? Turns out that Olympia really doesn’t want to be her fam’s sacrificial lamb, so she gets trashed on her wedding day and literally escapes out of a window. Unfortunately for Olympia, there was a witness: the Duke of Ripley, one of the Disgraces. And he’s in hot pursuit.

Loretta Chase writes some of my favourite romance heroes: they’re funny, charming, and they always realize the superiority of the women around them. A winning combination, if you ask me! Ripley is much the same, and he clearly knows that Olympia is way too smart and full of life to marry someone who doesn’t love her…even if the intended groom is his best friend.

Olympia is a total bluestocking, and she’s obsessed with libraries. She even developed her own unique system of cataloguing books! In other words, Olympia is my kind of heroine. Ripley is a lovable scoundrel who helps Olympia loosen up a bit, and they worked beautifully together.

Given that they fell in love over the course of a few days, the romance between Olympia and Ripley might have seemed rushed; but Loretta Chase makes it clear that despite the fact that the pair had never spoken before, they had their eyes on one another for years. The spark between the two of them is ignited when they start spending some quality time together on the road.

This one wraps up well, especially considering the complexities that arose between Ripley and Olympia’s original intended. I’m excited to learn more about the other members of the Disgraces!

 


Roomies by Christina Lauren

Publisher: Gallery Books on December 5, 2017

Source: Library

Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient. 

Holland Bakker is drifting. Living in NYC in the apartment her uncles pay for, working at the theatre that one of her uncle’s works at, and avoiding the novel that she’s meant to be working on, Holland is stuck. The one spot of brightness is the musician who she goes out of her way to see performing on the subway platform a couple times a week.

When one of the stars of her uncle’s musical unexpectedly up and quits, Holland knows that the street musician she’s been eyeing would be the perfect fit. But could she really do something as crazy as marrying a complete stranger she’s lusting after just to help her uncle? The answer, as it turns out, is yes. Holland marries Calvin so that he can legally work in the U.S., and the two of them have to pretend to be a genuine couple for a year.

Fake relationship and forced proximity are two of my favourite romance tropes, but they can be whack when they’re not done right. Thankfully, Christina Lauren pulls both off very well, going for a happy medium between super serious and overtly silly. And I liked the fact that the power dynamics of the situation, with Holland having power over Calvin’s ability to work in the show, were explicitly stated and explored. And I have to admit, they were very cute and steamy together.

That said…I don’t know. There’s something about the whole immigration fraud angle that made me uncomfortable. Calvin’s a highly educated white guy from the UK with a unique skill set; there’s a pretty high chance that he’d have been successful if he applied for a work visa. His choice to stay in the U.S. illegally and without even attempting to get a visa wasn’t explained to my satisfaction. Meanwhile there are people in less privileged or even desperate situations who play by the rules (as messed-up as they are) and never make it to the U.S. or Canada. Given the current political climate, it rubbed me the wrong way.

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30 thoughts on “Romance Review Roundup: Vol. 8

  1. I like the premise for the first one, and it does sound like it covers a lot of great stuff! A historical road trip romance, I didn’t know that was a thing lol. But it seems like a fun book, despite the quick falling in love thing. The third one sounds fun too. I also like the forced proximity trope. I can see why the immigration thing bothered you though. Great reviews!

    1. Isn’t the premise awesome? I think it’s so clever and fun! Historical romance, road trip edition: probably the best time I’ve had reading a historcical in ages. Who doesn’t love a good road trip, right? Forced proximity can be so hit or miss, but it was well done in Roomies!

  2. Roomies does sound like it could be fun, but I hear you on the immigration thing. I can see where it would impact enjoyment of the book, especially if not explained well or he was illegal just to make the story work.

  3. I love the premise of A Princes in Theory, I hope I can find the audiobook! I also read Roomies and was slightly underwhelmed for the same reason! I work in visas and I know a handful of people who have gone through the K-1 visa/green card process and seeing them take advantage of the situation didn’t sit right with me. Like getting a visa to this country is getting harder and harder by the day, and I just didn’t appreciate the blatant manipulation. Also it bothered me that it was no big deal about an Irishman (and it’s true, it’s pretty easy for Irish people to get visas) overstaying when we KNOW other populations wouldn’t get off that easy. That’s my tangent.

    1. Ooooh, I bet A Princess in Theory would be great on audio! Roomies was such a letdown for me, because like you said: it’s full of blatant manipulation. There’s nothing fun or zany about trying to get a visa right now (or ever, really) and the whole thing really took me out of the story. I’m relieved that I wasn’t the only one thrown by it!

  4. “Roomies” sounded great but I also didn’t give it more than 3 stars, something was missing from the romance to make me fall in love with it.

    The whole immigration situation also bothered me a bit, it didn’t make any sense in the first place that Calvin didn’t apply to a visa because like you said, he was in a good position to get one.

    1. I agree, the romance was a bit lacking in Roomies! I was hoping for more from it too. The immigration angle was so strange — I think it was poorly handled. Christina Lauren could’ve definitely found a better way to create a situation where Calvin had to get married/date in order to work in NYC.

  5. I loved A Princess In Theory too, Danya! It was my first Alyssa Cole, but I obviously have got to read more by this wonderful author. I was definitely a much bigger fan of Ledi than I was of Thabiso, and he really grew on me. ESPECIALLY BECAUSE HE ASKS PERMISSION BEFORE MAKING ANY MOVES! *swoons!

    I’m so glad you liked Duke! It was a surprisingly fun book for me as well. I loved all the banter between the pair especially. Rashika read the book the other day, and she was sending me screenshots of a certain fellow and his wife, and ahhh we researched and his book is 3rd! I think that’s the one I’m most excited for now. Sounds like there will be some good groveling involved.

    I can see why the immigration fraud angle made you uncomfortable, especially given the political climate. I’d be curious to know how many people actually do this. I’m glad you liked it overall though.

    Fab reviews as always, my friend!

    1. Yaaaaay! So glad you love Alyssa Cole as much as I do! Her historicals are seriously on point, so I’m really happy that her contemporary stuff is so good. Ledi is my queen, but Thabiso’s pretty alright too. YES the consent in this one!!! Top notch.

      Loretta Chase is one of my favourite historical romance authors — she’s so underrated! I’m quite pleased with the secondary characters in this series, so I’m hoping their stories will be just as good. But OMG yes, a certain married couple has me seriously intrigued. I need to know the what and whys of it all!

      Roomies was fun and steamy but not quite what I expected, sadly. But I’m still happy to read more by Christina Lauren! Thanks, Nick. 😊

  6. I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about that Alyssa Cole book and I really think I need to pick it up myself. Roomies is already on my TBR but I feel I’d have similar issues with the subject matter…

    1. Hooray! Alyssa Cole is one of my new favourite authors: she’s leading the charge on representation and consent while still writing fun and emotional stories. I was disappointed with Roomies, but maybe you’ll have better luck with it!

    1. It’s definitely one of the best ideas for a romance novel that I’ve ever come across! Alyssa Cole is one to watch, for sure. I agree, the issues covered in Roomies don’t wash well given the current political climate.

  7. I’m suddenly so happy that I’ve preordered that Alyssa Cole book for the cover alone. Also, it sounded good, even though I hate royalty romance I was willing to make an exception for that book. So glad it’s as good as I expect it to be. I can’t wait for it to turn up on my Kindle now.

    I have that Loretta Chase book on my TBR because of Nick but I am very excited to read. it just sounds like the best kind of historical romance.

    But you didn’t enjoy Roomies. Your not the only person I’ve heard who had issues with the whole immigration aspect of it. I do think it’s one of those that will either rub you the wrong way or you can look beyond the flaws and enjoy it. I still want to check it out because a marriage of convince in the modern day is something I want to see if it can work.

    1. OMG the cover!!! Isn’t it amazing??? The cover for book 2 is also gorgeous, and I can’t wait to read that one. I’ve never enjoyed a single royalty romance before this one, so make of that what you will! Alyssa Cole can seemingly pull off the impossible!

      Hooray for Loretta Chase! I love her books so much. They’re silly and carefree and fun. Fingers crossed you like A Duke in Shining Armor!

      I wanted to love Roomies so much, but I just couldn’t get there. Maybe it’s the unending discussion about immigration in this part of the world, but that plot line didn’t sit well with me at all. Gotta admit though, the romance was pretty steamy and cute!

  8. I am seeing a lot of good things about Princess. How interesting to see the author tackling some really hefty issues in a romance. I love when we get unexpected things in a good romance.

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