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


Content/Trigger Warnings: Death of parents (in the past), loss of a loved one (in the past), grief, abandonment, racism, sexism, talk of animal death and experimentation, disease epidemics, stalking, mentions of gaslighting, colonialism, mentions of colonization, brief mentions of sacrifice, trauma, and poisoning

“If only these pesky spam emails would stop showing up in her inbox, claiming an African prince wants to marry her…”

I mentioned this before in my review for When No One Is Watching, I never read anything by Alyssa Cole before. In fact, I started both of these books at the same and ended up really enjoying both experiences! A Princess in Theory was such a fantastic read. I was pleasantly surprised and I really had a fun time getting to know these characters. I’m even more excited to say that I’m eager to continue on with the rest of the series because of my reading experience was so enjoyable. This book was funny, spicy, enthralling, has important topics, and all packed into this one book!

👑 Naledi Smith – After the passing of her parents, Ledi grows up in foster care with faint, distant memories of the family she once knew. Starting a promising future in New York, as a grad student majoring in epidemiology, she somehow manages to find the balance between working non-stop in the lab, waitressing, and studying.

👑 Prince Thabiso – An actual prince from Africa and the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo. With his parents badgering him to settle down and start a family, Thabiso has been unable to forget the girl who was promised to marry him, who has been absent for most of his life.

These two characters finally come together when Thabiso and Likotsi, Thabiso’s assistant, end up tracking Ledi down to New York. Thabiso decides to travel to New York, not just to handle some business, but to find Ledi and confront her. The moment they meet, sparks fly and from there we see a slow burn romance blossom.

“Everybody wants something from you, but sometimes there’s a person you want to give to. Sometimes what you give them makes you better for having given it. And it makes having to give to everyone else not so bad.”

I loved Naledi as our main character. She was such an easy character for me to fall in love with. From working hard to wanting to succeed in her career, she stole my heart from page one. Despite the hardships she’s endured, she still has a kindness about her and I loved how she kept two lab mice. I thought it was the most precious thing. Thabiso was a character I struggled to warm up to. The moment he lied about his identity, it put me on pins and needles. I found myself siding with Likotsi a lot during parts of Thabiso’s povs in the beginning. However, as we get further into the story, I started to appreciate how Thabiso handled the political game and how we get to see him show his caring side.

The chemistry between these two characters was so good! Ledi and Thabiso click from the moment they meet, and the author does an amazing job at creating a slow burn romance between them. I also loved how we got to see Ledi fall in love with Thabiso, but I also appreciated how Thabiso refused to give up on her. The moments of deep conversation they got to share were some of my most favorite moments throughout this book.

Aside from the romance, we have a lot of important topics being addressed throughout this book. One of the biggest topics we see immediately in this book, is the racism and sexism Ledi endures while she works towards her dream. Every time Ledi is in the lab, Ledi’s white male supervisor constantly puts Ledi in a position of picking up extra tasks and project to pick up the slack from her other colleague. This does get challenged later on in the book and it was pretty satisfying to see Ledi stand up for herself.

Then we have a topic that hit really close to my heart and I did get a little emotional reading some of these parts. Ledi has to experience what it’s like to grow up apart from a culture she’s never known. She sees the imbalances between Thabiso and her family backgrounds. From wealth and power to everyone having more knowledge of the story, her parents, etc… than she does. This hit so close to home for various reasons and I really loved how Alyssa Cole packed so much feeling behind those moments.

“It’s hard losing a friend.” Ledi said quietly. “If it’s your significant other, you’re allowed to grieve. But people act like best friends are a dime a dozen, and if you lose one you can just replace them with another.”

And of course, I have to talk about how well the grief handled in this book. Grief is very much laced throughout this book and I loved how Alyssa Cole added so many sides to that grief. We have Ledi who still feels the absent of her parents and feels the weight of that loss. On the opposite side, we Thabiso and Likotsi experience the grief instantly upon learning about the passing of Ledi’s parents. Then we have the Queen of Thesolo. I think she was my favorite because we usually never see the angry side of grief in books and we never see how those two emotions come together when someone lashes out. We see the Queen target Ledi and treats her unfairly because of her grief and her pain, but that behavior is always challenged and we get a moment between Ledi and the Queen that made me so emotional. I think Alyssa Cole did an amazing job with the grief representation in this book.

Overall, I could probably keep talking about this book with a couple more paragraphs, but I will spare you all! This was such a great read and written so beautifully. There’s so much packed into these pages like the asking for consent, the conversations around colonization, and the bond between Ledi and Nya. Plus, Nya is a side character who’s chronically ill. There was just so many wonderful things that I love. I think many romance readers are going to love this book and be eager to read this series. And I’m so, so thankful that many of my friends recommended I jump on this series!


3 thoughts on “A Princess in Theory (Reluctant Royals, #1) by Alyssa Cole

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