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The Reluctant Royals series returns with a good girl searching for the life that’s not too big, and not too small, and the bad boy prince who might be just right for her…
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.
Source: advance e-galley provided in exchange for an honest review
Naledi's cousin, Nya, returns to Thesolo to attend the social event of the year - Naledi and Thabiso's wedding! All eyes will be on the happy couple while simultaneously giving the evil side eye to Nya. Her family's considered scandalous after her father was found to have a hand in Naledi's parents' deaths many years ago. While he's been in prison, Nya set off for New York. She longed to get away from the gossip and the pitying looks, and hoped the anonymity in the big city would serve as a springboard for an epic adventure, something she'd never thought possible for herself. Only it didn't turn out the way she had hoped and she quickly realized that she wasn't suited to the crazy pace of life there. She didn't find that epic love she hoped for either so instead found solace in a gaming app where she could date a virtual version of her ultimate prince. And speaking of princes, she did come into contact with Johan a few times and none of their encounters were pleasant. Thabiso's best friend seemed to brush her off or look down at her. Little did Nya know that Johan was hiding his true feelings. Being protective of Thabiso, he had originally been suspicious of her role in what happened to Naledi and her family but then soon found her irresistible and charming. However, he had a ridiculous alter ego to maintain so he did all he could to keep her at arm's length. The royal wedding brings them together and in unexpected ways. Turns out that their new "friendship" could prove beneficial to Johan and his country if they pretend to be engaged. Since it also helps Nya with her own problems, she agrees.
The set up is weird at first. For someone so reluctant to be in the spotlight, Nya seems all too willing to go along with a plan that will thrust her front and center. There are so many fake engagement stories so I wanted her to have convincing reasons to do this, and she does. One, she wants to show everyone who doubts her that she's not the weakling she's been made out to be and neither is she her father's puppet. Two, she does this simply to defy her father. Considering her upbringing at his hand and the strained relationship she has with him as an adult, she's certainly allowed to feel that way. Between the Nya and Joahn, I was more in tune to Nya's growth and how she was overcoming her insecurities. Johan was like a fortress holding tightly to all his thoughts and emotions while putting others ahead of him. I like the idea of his secret good side known to a select. The fake engagement of a playboy prince to an elegant, sweet woman would be the perfect way to distract the press and his people from the issues plaguing his monarchy. There is also a subplot: another potential royal crisis for Johan to manage which involves his younger half brother. I did think that was smoothed over rather quickly but there wasn't time to explore that to its full potential here. I wouldn't mind if Cole revisited that in the future. We'll just add that to my wishlist ;-)
The Reluctant Royals series is about revamping fairy tales and having them come true in a modern world. Amidst all the craziness and hardships, these characters have persevered and achieved their own happiness. Nya may have started out romanticizing about her Prince Charming, and Johan may have thought that he'd forever have to sacrifice his happiness to take care of others, but they both found each other and are setting the rules their way. Cole is such a brilliant writer whom I never want to miss and A Prince on Paper is a dreamy, delightful read to add to your list!