In November, my favorite independent bookstore was celebrating Small Business Saturday with promotional items depending on how much you spend. I was a short hop away from the goal I wanted and decided to get A Princess in Theory because I had enjoyed A Prince on Paper, which I acquired during the Cannonball book sale last year, and was curious to read more by Cole. What I didn’t realize when I read A Prince on Paper was that it was the third book in Cole’s “Reluctant Royals” series. For some reason I was under the impression that RR were standalone books with the same theme. Cole gave enough information that it didn’t feel as though I was missing anything. Then, as I read A Princess in Theory, first book in the series, went, “Oh, I read out of order”. Which was quickly followed by, “Now I must acquire the second book, A Duke by Default!”.
Naledi (Ledi) Smith (but secretly Ajoua) is an over-worked, stressed grad student with a tragic past, and determination to fulfill her lifelong dream of being a scientist of epidemiology. Reading about someone passionate about wanting to study the spread of diseases and detect outbreaks before they become epidemics (and then pandemics🙄) was oddly reassuring right now. However, when funding is removed and a task force disbanded it had me seething, as that is what happened in the US in 2018.
From a Reuters article, March 25th, 2020 , “The Global Health Security and Biodefense unit — responsible for pandemic preparedness — was established in 2015 by Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice ( here ). The unit resided under the National Security Council (NSC) — a forum of White House personnel that advises the president on national security and foreign policy matters. In May 2018, the team was disbanded and its head Timothy Ziemer, top White House official in the NSC for leading U.S. response against a pandemic, left the Trump administration, the Washington Post reported ( here ). The reorganization followed John Bolton’s appointment as national security advisor, and the departure of Tom Bossert, the homeland security advisor who the Post wrote ‘had called for a comprehensive biodefense strategy against pandemics and biological attacks’.”
As this was published in 2018, I wonder if Cole was aware of it at the time of writing? Regardless, it left me angry all over again at the current state of the pandemic and can’t help wondering what might have been under a different administration.
Thabiso Moshoeshoe is the arrogant but heart felt Prince of Thesolo, sole heir to the crown. All his life he has lived with the memory of the betrothed that was stolen from him. As children, the priestesses of Thesolo selected Naledi to be his betrothed. However, at a very young age, her parents ran away and created new identities to live in New York City. When Ledi’s parents died shortly thereafter, her Thesoloian history was erased. As she bounced from foster home to foster home, until she reached adulthood, Ledi internalized the belief that she was defective as no one ever stayed in her life long. Hanging on a fairytale, Thabiso has turned down every eligible bride candidate chosen by his parents.
After much searching, Thabiso’s assistant/friend/confidant, Likotsi, has found the wayward betrothed and sent multiple emails saying she must prove her identity so that Prince Thabiso can know she is the right woman. But Naledi is convinced it’s spammers trying to steal her identity. After all, the idea of an African prince searching for her was laughable. Business brings Thabiso to New York City and he finds Ledi as an overtaxed waitress. Ledi assumes he is Jamal, a new guy supposed to shadow her shift to learn the ropes. Seeing an opportunity to find out who Ledi is, and have her learn who he is, without the title of Prince in their way, Thabiso pretends to be Jamal and uses his money to force his way into Ledi’s life. What follows is the two sweetly falling in love but then, of course, Ledi’s world is rocked by the betrayal of Thabiso’s lie once it is ultimately revealed. To make it up to her, Thabiso knows he must make a grand gesture but what can he do to prove the depths of his love and respect for Ledi?
I greatly enjoyed my time with Ledi and Thabiso. She is so scared of letting anyone past her defenses and he discovers the joy of someone learning him for who he is and not his title. The topics of public health and possible epidemics hit a little closer to home than I was expecting when I picked up the book, but it was also heartening to read about someone so passionate about saving the world and remembering that we have real heroes doing this work. The happy ending is sweet and now I know the back story for what happens in A Prince on Paper!