Finally. FINALLY. I’ve been waiting to review this one, but I wanted to put them in order. And this one deserves to be at the end, because Alyssa Cole truly saved the best for last with this one, when it came to the Reluctant Royals series. So let’s do this.
In A Prince on Paper, Nya Jerami is not pleased to be returning to Thesolo. She’s going back for her dear friend’s wedding to the Prince of Thesolo, but she has a lot of history there that she doesn’t want anything to do with. She’s so anxious about everything that she starts acting a little out of character… and it always seems to be in front of Prince Johan from Liechtienbourg, who is such a well-known flirt that it’s all the gossip rags tend to talk about. Nya finds Johan to be attractive, sure, but Johan has never shown her any interest. So now that he’s being nice to her, she’s all out of sorts. But she finds that she wants to be his friend, and even more, she wants to do something that will hurt her father, because he spent years hurting her. So she accepts Johan’s fake proposal and returns to Liechtienbourg with him to meet his family. What is she thinking? She’s not even sure! She just knows that she feels good when she’s with him.
Johan von Braustein isn’t really a prince – he’s the step-son of a king. But he’s spent his adolescence and adult years being ridiculous in front of the media in order to take the spotlight off his younger sibling, Lukas, the actual heir to the throne of Liechtienbourg, because Lukas is the only person he cares about. But then Lukas starts acting out, and there’s a referendum coming up in Liechtienbourg that will determine if the country gets rid of the monarchy all together. And Johan knows he has to do better, but he also has to keep protecting Lukas at all costs. So he brings home sweet Nya Jerami, daughter of a disgraced council member in Thesolo, as his fake fiance to act as yet another distraction for the media.
Except what starts out as fake may not be so out of left field after all.
3 Things I Loved
- Johan. I had a soft spot for Johan before this book even started. He’s Thabiso’s friend, and despite Thabiso lying to Naledi in A Princess in Theory, he’s got a heart of gold and I trusted his fictional judge of character. And the way Johan selflessly helped grumpy Tavish in A Duke by Default was enough to seal the deal for me. Johan was a secret good person. I was so pumped that this book was about him.
- Nya. Same with Nya! I had such a soft spot for her after her rescue from her truly terrible father and her time spent in New York. I wanted her to find the happiness that she was denied because of her father’s abuse. And we got it in this story. *swoon*
- The nonbinary coming out story. This was the side-story I wasn’t expecting, but loved. Lukas, Johan’s younger sibling, comes out as nonbinary on the page in the book. And we get to see Johan loving him regardless, loving his true self even more than before, because Johan starts to get to know Lukas as he becomes an adult. It’s touching, it’s real, and I loved every minute of it.
I had very few dislikes in this book. I actually put it down at one point because I knew the almost-to-the-end big conflict was coming and I didn’t want to see it! That’s how much I was loving it. The only thing I can think of was that I was hoping for more time spent in Thesolo. Much of the book was them traveling or them in Liechtienbourg. But that’s so minor, really! Hopefully this is conveying how much I loved this book.
In terms of problematic content, everything on the page is dealt with very solidly. However. There are some topics in this book that could trigger certain readers. Specifically, Nya’s past (and present) emotional abuse from her father, and Lukas being technically misgendered for the majority of the book. If you’ve read the series and have made it to this book, you should already know about Nya’s father, so that shouldn’t be surprising. I’m going to say a little more about Lukas, though.
So. I’ve seen some reviews where it very specifically states that Lukas is misgendered, and these reviews are written as if Alyssa Cole did this to be purposely harmful. I see it very differently. Lukas is discovering himself on the page. This is literally his coming out story. So we get to watch him decide how he wants to be gendered, and from that point forward, the rest of the characters do as he asks. So I don’t see it so much as being misgendered, but I know others do see it that way. So I wanted to mention it. But I found Lukas’s story to be well-written, and the reactions from his family are loving and accepting. It’s great. I couldn’t have written it better, and I’ve never seen it written better (so far!).
The only other thing I’ll say is that this is not a standalone! If you want the full experience, you should really read the rest of the series first. Or you’ll be lost!
A reminder of the rating scale:
- Red = DNF, I hated everything
- Orange = Ugh, no thank you
- Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
- Green = This was good!
- Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
- Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!
Honestly, I loved this so much. I’m so happy I’m finally reviewing it. I want everyone to read it. And that means I’m going to do something rare. I’m giving A Prince on Paper a PURPLE rating! Bask in this book’s glory. I just loved it.