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.
Trigger warning for abuse.
I’ve had very hit and miss experiences with Cole’s other contemporary novels, but this is my favorite Reluctant Royals book by far.
The good, in no particular order:
- Like most of Cole’s books it’s own voices Black representation.
- There are several LGBTQIA+ characters. One’s queerness becomes a plot point, but the others are simply themselves and that is awesome.
- Nya has some trauma in her past and it isn’t info dumped but you get it.
- All the consent! Nya is not experienced in the sexual department and Johan rushes nothing and asks for permission before everything. Love.
- Nya and Johan both have a bunch of emotional issues they’re dealing with, but their baggage matches. It’s great to see two people who help each other with their stuff constructively, and don’t set each other off.
- At one point it looks like we’re headed for a Big Misunderstanding but the characters talk to each other like adults. The way it should be!
- There’s some great positive modeling, including how to bring up the subject of pronouns with someone who may be questioning their own.
- As always Cole brings in current events. Johan’s country is largely white and a former colonial power, and the government and people are going through growing pains, figuring out what they want their future to look like. How do you interact with your former colonies? Do you welcome refugees? What is the place of a monarchy in this day and age?
- While I love the romance the plot is disappointing, especially the ending. It has good elements overall but I don’t feel like Cole stuck the landing.
I’m happy I stuck with the series through a DNF and two mediocre reads, and am looking forward to whatever Cole may come out with next.