I was standing in the book section of my local Walmart having a revelation about how Trump became President when A Princess in Theory jumped out at me like a life line. I grabbed it in hopes that Alyssa Cole will become Walmart’s biggest selling author and they will look into the abyss that is their corporate soul. And don’t judge me, I had been given a Walmart gift card.
Naledi Smith is a Public Health grad student in New York City specializing in epidemiology. Her life is work and school. Orphaned at an early age, she has no one on whom she can depend. She is constantly aware that that she is one step from disaster. A reputation for being difficult could tank her career, cuts in public health funding could tank her career, losing a job could tank her life. She’s keeping it together, but she doesn’t have time for fuckboys or weird email scams from a small African country.
Everybody expects something from Prince Thabiso. He wants to know why his betrothed’s family fled in the night, but since she isn’t responding to his assistant’s emails, he doesn’t think she’ll give him an honest answer. While he’s in New York on business, he sees an opportunity to spend a few days in Naledi’s life as “Jamal.”
The strongest part of the story is Naledi and Thabiso/Jamal in NYC. Cole grounds Naledi in so much reality, that the unrealistic parts works. Once the story moves to Thesolo, the politics, family drama, and epidemic destabilize the connection Cole has built between Naledi and Thabiso. There is too much going on and not enough time to do justice to anything.
This was a 3.5 star read.
I do like Cole’s writing, so I will read Duke by Default when it comes out this summer.