Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
📖 Q: do you have a favorite royal couple? I’m team Harry + Meghan all the way!
The stunning cover of American Royalty—& the premise, of a white future prince of England & current duke falling in love with a Black American rapper named Duchess—had me pressing request on this one really fast.
While the basic premise is great (with a nod to Harry & Meghan), the book’s celebration of a female rapper also trying to amp up her skincare line is something worth cheering for, & there are some 🔥 sex scenes (including 🍑 action!), I also feel like things between the leads moved quickly & the hero sometimes comes across as judgmental & uptight (& not in a way that I appreciate).
Rapper & businesswoman Dani “Duchess” is in England to perform at a memorial concert for the King. Pretty much immediately Duke Jameson acts like a jerk, mainly because he judged her based on her music videos & because he’s secretly so attracted to her.
Forced proximity fans might rejoice when they realize they’re going to be spending so much time together on Jameson’s estate…
I noted what does & doesn’t work me earlier but on the whole this book just feels uneven to me.
On one hand Jameson can be an awkwardly adorable & cerebral beta hero; on the other, he makes weird, sexist judgments about how much cursing he might expect from Dani based on how she’s dressed (like women might be expected to curse more or less just because of how they’re dressed), as an example.
The couple doesn’t meet until 27% in which feels late to me, then they get physical a little too fast for me, & then there just isn’t enough emotional intimacy to have me falling in love.
But this was a fast read for me, largely because I found Tracey Livesay’s writing to be entertaining & enjoyable to consume & I had a lot of fun meeting Dani.
In the end this wasn’t an unqualified win for me but I’ll definitely try Livesay’s writing again!
3.5 ⭐️. Release date: 06/28
Jenny Holiday, author of this adorable, smack you in the feelings romance, calls it “a Hallmark-style Christmas book” in the Acknowledgments & while I haven’t watched a Hallmark movie before I definitely got some of those isn’t-this-book-cuddly-&-cozy vibes I associate with the genre.
I’m a big fan of Jenny Holiday’s books. They’re emotionally resonant, they’re sexy, & they’re beautifully written. A Princess for Christmas is all of those things: it’s also , super sweet, & it features a working class, kind hero & *these are a few of my fav-o-rite things.*
The Princess of Eldovia, Marie, is in NYC to secure a market for one of her country’s chief exports. While there she unexpectedly has to take a cab driven by our hero, Leo, who has two jobs & is basically living paycheck to paycheck while taking care of his orphaned sister.
The gulf between them is huge, for obvious reasons.
Like I said before Holiday is so skilled at writing emotion. A Princess for Christmas sparkles with feeling. It’s funny, it’s warm, it’s real. Both leads have anxiety; they buy pads for his preteen sister together—>those are just a couple of moments that plucked my heart like a guitar string.
Also the attraction between them is a dream & I love how Leo notices ALL OF THE THINGS about Marie.
In short I love so much about this book. But there are a couple of things that I have reservations about.
First, there’s a loose love triangle plot because Marie is a *princess* & there’s a suitor her father favors. My problem is that I don’t feel like the book is upfront enough with the reader about Marie’s plans with this (ie is she actually engaged? Is she on the way there?), her feelings, if she is in some way possibly acting or feeling inappropriately because of that possible relationship, etc.
The book moves pretty slowly in the steam department so it wasn’t a huge issue; still, I was a little confused about the basics of the potential love triangle for part of the book & when it comes to that trope in particular I don’t want it to be any more complicated/unclear than it needs to be.
Moving on (somewhat), I wanted Marie to take on an even more active role in choosing her future—for growth reasons. And finally, I feel like some logistical aspects of the resolution are rushed.
So in the end this wasn’t a “perfect” read for me. But it was really enjoyable & sweet, with leads who deserve happiness dammit! & we all need more of that.
4⭐️. A Princess for Christmas is out on 10/13. Thanks to Avon Publishing & Edelweiss for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Give me that HEA, please.
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