A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole
After the discovery that her father had nearly killed her cousin (and her), Nya fled Thesolo for NYC, to try to live on her own and be free. It…didn’t quite turn out to be so great, so she slinks back for her cousin’s royal wedding. And stumbles straight into the arms of the Playboy Prince, Johan von Braustein. He’s never noticed her before, although he is warm and sexy, just like the fake version of him on her online dating game. This can’t work, right?
I enjoyed this one, although I still liked Book 2 a lot better. I can’t believe that I crushed the entire trilogy (and novella) in one month. These books are soooo addictive!
Anywho, I love that Cole incorporates a lot of themes in her books instead of focusing on straight romance, and most of the overarching theme in this trilogy has been abandonment and finding your person/people. Plus a heavy sprinkling of emotional abuse.
Nya is recovering from being slowly poisoned by her father—both physically and emotionally—and learning to live for herself as someone who is not dumb or crippled or weak, but someone who has her own agency and has not been a child for a long time. There’s some disability rep, and most of it has to do with her irritation at being treated like someone without agency or independence.
I loved that she exerted her own independence so much, while also being very attached to her own family despite her feelings of hurt and betrayal. She had to divorce her memories and feelings of the past and find ways to work around her father’s constant manipulations, while also navigating her feelings of hurt and anger over the rest of her family, who saw what was going on with her and did nothing.
Johan was also pretty interesting. His depths had been revealed in A Duke by Default, so a lot of the reveal that Johan had 1) a heart and 2) a brain that was not below pants, was not a revelation. But he also had abandonment issues stemming mainly from his mother’s untimely death, and living with her legacy fully out in the open, spilling constantly into the tabloids (think a bit on Princess Diana). And so he lived his life dedicated to protecting his younger sibling Lucas—and his own heart—by never letting people in. And of course, he has to realize that Nya wasn’t a delicate woodland creature, but a woman who was truly kind and generous and had boundaries she wasn’t afraid to assert.
So anyhow, this is all about building trust and breaking down barriers between two people who had been hurt time and time again in the past, with a heavy dose of teen angst and rebellion.
Okay, that’s trivializing Lucas’ own arc, because they are coming to terms with their gender orientation, and who they are in terms of being the heir to the crown and non-binary, in a system that is focused on the gender binary.
And, of course in addition to the heavy themes of coming out, acceptance, emotional abuse and abandonment, this book is funny as fuck.
Don’t believe me after this review?
Just read it yourself. The Royals game Nya plays is OMG hysterical. And because Johan’s stepfather is truly the most precious person in the world. I love him.
I truly hope there is a book 4 in the series, because I am in love.