Nya Jerami fled Thesolo for the glitz and glamour of NYC but discovered that her Prince Charming only exists in her virtual dating games. When Nya returns home for a royal wedding, she accidentally finds herself up close and personal—in bed—with the real-life celebrity prince who she loves to hate.
For Johan von Braustein, the red-headed step-prince of Liechtienbourg, acting as paparazzi bait is a ruse that protects his brother—the heir to the throne—and his own heart. When a royal referendum threatens his brother’s future, a fake engagement is the perfect way to keep the cameras on him.
Nya and Johan both have good reasons to avoid love, but as desires are laid bare behind palace doors, they must decide if their fake romance will lead to a happily-ever-after.
I can't even tell you how much I wanted to love this book, with that cover (to die for!) and all of that fabulous diversity rep, but, like the others in the Reluctant Royals series, it fell short for me. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole, but I wanted to gush about it and I didn't get to that place.
I started off really enjoying the story. I live for a princess-fantasy story, and I also love an aloof bad boy (though that really isn't even the male MC), so the book really piqued my interest. I was sure I was going to give the story at least 4-stars, then things started to fall apart a bit for me.
The story is really, really long, clocking in at just under 400 pages, and it felt that way to me. The plot felt like it was getting more and more convoluted as it went along, with government conspiracies, a fake engagement, and multiple layers of family issues, and I felt my attention wavering away from the main couple. The plot became too busy for me.
I also didn't quite feel the true chemistry between the MCs. I mean, I felt some of the lust, but there was even a "big misunderstanding" looming until nearly the end of the story, so I didn't see how the "love" could really develop.
I adored the protective big brother character in Johan, but I felt Nya's portrayal was more disjointed. I also didn't get why Johan was so fixated on preserving the family's royal image when everything was resolved so seamlessly and without any hiccups at the end. I was picturing more traditional, uptight old monarchy-vibes and that's... not what we get. It all resolved too easily, and the whole drama felt too... simple (being vague because of spoilers).
Overall, I enjoyed the story and I enjoyed the book, but I think I just wanted to like it so darn much that that carried me through. Still, the cover and the diversity is everything, and Avon and the author should be really proud of that.
*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*