Audiobook review: A Princess in Theory
Author: Alyssa Cole
Narrator: Karen Chilton
Audio Speed: 1.5x
Series: SPI Files #5
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Naledi (Ledi) Smith is driven and determined to succeed, even when society presses against her. As a black woman working two jobs and a grad student in the STEM field, Ledi knows how to deal with jerks as she makes her way through each day. Growing up in foster care, she’s learned to build walls around her heart to keep her from the pain of “not being good enough.” So when a handsome stranger moves in across the hall for a temporary stay, Ledi thinks she’s good with a short-term fling.
Prince Thabiso is determined to discover the truth of his long-missing betrothed. When her parents disappeared with Ledi when she was just a child, never to return, the entire kingdom of Thesolo felt they were betrayed. However, when a disguised Thabiso tracks down Ledi and discovers she has no knowledge of her heritage, or their betrothal, he sets out to get to know her without the pretense of his position. Knowing she’ll hate him when the truth comes out, Thabiso struggles with the truth and his duties.
A Princess in Theory is a modern-day fairytale with strong resemblance to one of my all-time favorite movies: Coming to America. Thabiso disguises himself, unintentionally at first, to try to get to know the woman he’s attracted to without his title getting in the way. And it works, until she discovers the truth. But there is a significant hook which is strong enough to keep Ledi around rather than just move on. While I wasn’t overly happy with the predictable way in which Ledi discovered the truth, I do like how she moved past it in order to meet her distant family and obtain a once-in-a-lifetime field experience in Thesolo.
While the front half of the book focuses on Thabiso and Ledi getting to know one another, the second centers around a two-pronged mystery. First, there is a mysterious illness infecting the residents of Ledi’s grandparent’s village, and Ledi is studying to be an epidemiologist. She takes the opportunity to help very seriously, and I love how she throws herself into the work. Second, there is the mystery of why her parents left Thesolo in the first place. Both are equally exciting to follow as we also watch Ledi and Thabiso mature and broaden their perspectives, opening their hearts.
Ms. Chilton provides a solid narrative performance that enhances the story. She uses a neutral feminine voice for the narrator, regardless of the point of view. I enjoyed it, but at times it was too close to Ledi’s own voice, and I’d get confused whose POV it was. I did love her smooth, confident voice for Ledi. Additionally, her male voices were masculine, and the accented English was strong. My only complaint was the lack in the variety of voices, but there was enough to ensure a solid storytelling.
In the end, I enjoyed this first story in the new Reluctant Royals series, and I look forward to seeing how Ms. Cole will redeem Ledi’s BFF, Portia, in the next book.
About the Book:
Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or the patience for constant emails 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 email 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 their flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?