Book Review: “A Princess in Theory” by Alyssa Cole

Blurb & Info

(via goodreads)

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?

Published: February 27, 2018

Publisher: Avon

Pages: 360

Series: Reluctant Royals #1

I read this book in a buddy read with Sarah @ Suits of Stories!


It’s very weird when I talk about books with my boyfriend, because I enjoy reading, my entire family enjoys reading, but my boyfriend… doesn’t. At all. Nevertheless, he still asks about what I’m currently reading and how I’m enjoying each book, and when I described A Princess in Theory to him he wrinkled his nose and said, “that’s way too cheesy.” When I started this book, I agreed with him and was expecting all kinds of cheesiness — Swiss, parmesan, mozzarella, maybe even some brie — but Alyssa Cole actually took the concepts of the synopsis and made them… real. Sure, there were definitely one or two moments where I wanted to roll my eyes, but the rest of the time I was really invested in the journey of Naledi’s relationship with Thabiso and wondering how things would work out between them.

I really like how Naledi is a woman in STEM, and how A Princess in Theory is incredibly frank about the sexism that Naledi faces in her work as a grad student — it felt so real and so infuriating! Moreover, Naledi thinks like a scientist; the sections from Naledi’s POV are littered with scientific and medical metaphors that made her perspective feel unique.

I found myself much more invested in Naledi’s character than I have been for most of the female leads in the previous romance books I’ve read. She had a lot of depth of character, and her insecurities and fears felt so genuine. They were realistic insecurities and fears for a character who survived the United States’ foster care system. However, the way Thabiso broke down Naledi’s barriers and won her affection felt very rushed, especially in the beginning; it was definitely insta-love (or at least insta-mega-lust). However, once that baseline relationship was established, the way Thabiso and Naledi’s relationship progressed made sense to me as a reader.

As for Thabiso himself… at first, I found it hard to root for him. He initially comes across as a spoiled, arrogant prince who gets everything he wants, and he treats Naledi like the juicy prize of a game he’s playing. However, after a couple of chapters his true character starts to shine through, and I found myself liking him more. I really enjoyed his relationship with Likotsi, his personal assistant. Of their two-person team, Likotsi is the one with common sense, and I really loved her fussy mannerisms — as well as how she remained professional yet also genuine with her employer. I am clearly not the only fan of Likotsi, because Alyssa Cole wrote the novella Once Ghosted, Twice Shy about Likotsi’s whirlwind romance with another woman that occurs simultaneously with Thabiso’s wooing of Naledi.

Something that really struck me about this book is how the power of female friendships is a prominent counterpoint to the power of romantic relationships. The platonic relationships between women have just as much effect on the plot and characters as the romance, and there is a discussion of how friendship can be just as valuable and strong as a romantic relationship — but also that society doesn’t acknowledge that depth.

This book would have been a solid four star read for me, but… the ending. The ending was so rushed, and it felt like a giant exposition dump where everything is just told to the reader rather than shown. I was not impressed. I am certainly intrigued by the other books in the Reluctant Royals series, but as I mentioned in my Sunday Post I can feel that I’m all but burnt out on romance at the moment, so I don’t expect that I will be picking them up anytime soon.


4 thoughts on “Book Review: “A Princess in Theory” by Alyssa Cole

Add yours

    1. Same here! Likotsi deserves all the joy she can get after putting up with Thabiso’s harebrained shenanigans. I want to see her happy in a relationship.

      Liked by 1 person

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