Thursday, 30 January 2020

Hidden Diamond: Royal Gems from Alyssa Cole

There are so many books out there that it can be hard for readers to find the books they would love to read.  For the last year and a half, I've been featuring many of my fellow romance authors from ORWA, Romancing the Capital, and Soul Mate Publishing.  With what's been happening with RWA this year, I've decided to do something different for 2020.

I want to share some of the amazing books that I've read by diverse authors, that feature diverse characters.  I'm beginning with one of my favourite reads from 2019: Alyssa Cole's Reluctant Royals series.  She's an award-winning author who is certainly not hidden by any measure.  However, I love her writing and thought her books would be perfect to get 2020 started.

One of my favourite ways to discover new authors is to pick up books at random from my local library.  That's how I found Alyssa Cole's A Princess In Theory.  The concept fascinated me.  We've all seen the spam emails claiming to come from exiled princes who just need a little help from us, but what if one of those emails was the truth?  I discovered a delightful romantic comedy with a determined, intelligent heroine (Naledi) and a genuine prince for a hero (Thabiso).  If you like mistaken identity, arranged marriage, and friends to lovers books, then this is a great one.

Naledi is a grad student in New York.  She's always had to work twice as hard to be considered half as good.  When she gets an email claiming that she is the missing betrothed of Prince Thabiso of Thesolo, she dismisses it.  But it turns out to be quite real, and Thabiso gets the fairy tale started by coming to New York to find out why the woman he's been pledged to marry since they were both infants.  Instead, he finds himself assuming the role of her neighbour, living the ordinary life that has been out of his reach.  The two of them begin to fall in love, but it's all jeopardized when she realizes that he's been lying to her.

It turns out that Thabiso can help Naledi find many of the answers which were lost when her parents were killed and she was put into the foster system.  She connects with her family's history and culture, creating the sense of belonging she's been searching for.

Once I read it, I knew I would never be satisfied with a single reading, so I bought it and the rest of the series.  Alyssa Cole has a real talent for creating characters that not only feel real, but that make the reader wish they could go hang out with them.  (Or maybe that's just me.)  She also created a beautiful and rich culture for her fictional African country of Thesolo.

A Duke By Default gives us Portia, the heroine I most identified with.  She's smart, but that somehow never quite seems to translate into getting things right.  But she's determined to find her niche and prove herself.  She moves to Scotland to become an apprentice swordmaker, under the tutelage of Tavish McKenzie.  It's a scattered to success, enemies (to friends) to lovers story with a hot Scotsman who discovers he may be a Duke (and wants nothing to do with it). tes

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy is a lovely opposites attract, second-chance romance between Likotsi and Fabiola.  Likotsi is practical, organized and elegant while Fabiola is more free-spirited and impulsive.

A Prince On Paper is my favourite in the series because it deals with a topic that is near and dear to my heart, how we only know a small part of people's stories.  Sometimes what we see is a facade designed to protect and we never know what's in someone's history.  Playboy Johan and shy wallflower Nya have a wonderful fake romance that blossoms into something quite real.

If you're looking for modern fairytales that are sweet, sexy and full of clever dialogue and fascinating characters, then this is a wonderful series that I can't recommend enough.

Previous Hidden Diamond: Getting Steamy with Barbara Russell's Steampunk Romance

Previous Blog Post: Cavemen vs Astronauts: My previous Hidden Diamonds share their opinion on this tongue-in-cheek debate.

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