Review

Review: How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole (2021)

Runaway Royals, Book #2

Heat Factor: Low heat

Character Chemistry: Sparkling

Plot: A Royal Investigator who follows the letter of the law but not the spirit + A Long-Lost Princess who has no interest in claiming the throne + A Transatlantic Voyage = Hijinks on the High Seas

Overall: It wrapped up abruptly, leaving me feeling vaguely dissatisfied


Here’s when I knew that How to Find a Princess was going to be a romp: the first scene we have with Beznaria Chetchevaliere, top-10 (out of 10) investigator for the World Federation of Monarchists, features her squaring off against her boss, Algernon Shropsbottomshireburrough (pronounced Smith), Lord Higginshoggins of Hogginshiggins. So. That’s the tone we have going here. 

The basic setup is that Bez wants to redeem her family honor by finding the missing heir of Ibarania (an Imaginary Benevolent Monarchy in the Mediterranean, currently sans monarch). Makeda Hicks is a regular woman in New Jersey, whose grandmother had a fling with a guy claiming to be an exiled Ibaranian prince; Makeda’s mom clung to the princess fantasy, to the detriment of Makeda’s well-being when she was a child. However, while Makeda has no interest in being a princess, her profile still ends up in Bez’s hands—and Bez is convinced that Makeda is the heir she has been seeking. 

The first chunk of the book is therefore Bez aggressively wooing Makeda, in order to convince Makeda to join her in Ibarania. This part is fun, and the chemistry between Bez and Makeda absolutely sizzles. 

Eventually, Makeda agrees to join Bez in Ibarania, for two reasons. First, participating in the hunt for the Long Lost Heir comes with a cash prize, and Makeda—recently unemployed, owing money on an ex-girlfriend’s loan, worried that her grandmother will lose her home—could use the cash. And second, if she can prove without a doubt that she’s NOT a princess, maybe her mom will finally let it go. 

Thus begins the second chunk of the book, where Makeda and Bez pretend to be married so they can travel on a cargo ship across the Atlantic. Bez, uh, might not exactly be doing what she’s supposed to be, and does not have institutional support or funding for this trip. This part is also fun, as Bez and Makeda pretend to be newlyweds, and also figure out how to communicate with each other. It’s a little looser in terms of plotting than the first chunk of the book—we are introduced to a whole bunch of new characters (including, presumably, the hero of Book 3), but there are about a dozen of them, so they feel more like sketches than fully-formed individuals. 

Anyways, so things are meandering along, and Makeda is learning to put herself first instead of always jumping in and helping, and we arrive in Ibarania and…the book ends, lickety-split. There’s a DNA test and Makeda’s mom makes a surprise appearance and a ball and the Big Reveal, all in about two chapters, and then…that’s it. The biggest hanging thread, for me, was that Makeda and Bez’s relationship felt very unresolved. It seems like they are going to stay married, but they’re not actually married, and live in two different countries, and are only just now figuring how that they really care for each other and…how is this going to work, exactly? I just felt like I was left hanging on a lot of questions. An epilogue would have helped immensely here.

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.


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