Summary from Goodreads:
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.
We were first introduced to Nya in A Princess in Theory as a chronically ill-seeming, fragile young woman under her domineering father’s thumb. She came out of her shell a little in A Duke by Default via group chat – and we get our first good look at Johan in that book, too, as an attention-grabbing, rich playboy (iirc, he pops up in A Princess on Theory but isn’t quite as memorable). Alyssa Cole puts them together as our heroine and hero in A Prince on Paper and, come to find out, these two characters aren’t so very different from one another.
Both have spent most of their lives without their mothers. Both have had to hide their authentic selves for reasons (Nya because her father was gaslighting her, Johan because he wanted to let his younger sibling grow up with less of a spotlight on them). And both really wish to share their lives with someone and put some good back into the world.
Nya and Johan provided us (via Alyssa’s brain) with a lovely ending to the Reluctant Royals Trilogy. I very much liked that the “villain” of the book wasn’t someone out to do physical harm, etc., but instead our own human fears and prejudices – of having our softer bits exposed for others to see and perhaps ridicule. Johan is so used to being the naughty, crass Jo-Jo that it becomes his default persona and hurts Nya without meaning to but he is also an incredibly decent person underneath it; his genuine ability to take care of people is written into the very bedrock of his character. Nya has spent her whole life being put down – and now feels reviled as the daughter of a traitor – and she hasn’t quite determined who she wants to be as a whole person.
I could have done without the ongoing subplot of Nya’s dating game (it got weird/overlong after a while) but the subplot of Johan’s sibling, step-dad, and the referendum on whether a hereditary, patriarchal system like a monarchy even has a place in modern democracy was stellar. Alyssa has also used her books in this series to hit back hard at racism, classism, ableism, and post-colonialism. So well-done. A Prince on Paper also delves into the dangers of our obsession with celebrity culture and the pressure it puts on individuals to conform or act out.
For anyone wondering, yes, we get to see Portia+Tav and Likotski+Fab during Ledi+Thabiso’s wedding but no, not nearly enough 😉 (omg, they’re all so adorable here but good goddamn I so want a longer epilogue or something for Portia and Tav! (unfortunately, no Reggie+Gus on the page)
A Prince on Paper is available today!