Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Allyssa appears to be the ideal princess of Emperion—she’s beautiful, elegant, and refined. She spends her days locked in a suffocating cage, otherwise known as the royal court. But at night, Allyssa uses her secret persona—that of a vigilante—to hunt down criminals and help her people firsthand.
Unfortunately, her nightly escapades will have to wait because the citizens of Emperion may need saving from something much bigger than common criminals. War is encroaching on their country and in order to protect her people, Allyssa may have to sacrifice her heart. Forced to entertain an alliance through marriage with a handsome prince from a neighboring kingdom, she finds herself feeling even more stifled than before. To make matters worse, the prince has stuck his nosy squire, Jarvik, to watch her every move.
A boring, predictable plot. Cardboard characters. A Mary-Sue Princess with Mary-Sue male friends. Do I have to tell you more? I think I do…a long rant is coming, beware!
Here it comes, my first grievance: if I took a sip of champagne every time somebody in this book requested a private moment with Princess Allyssa or said that he or she had something important to tell her I would get drunk after two-three chapters, perhaps even sooner. Honestly, this one was reading like a Turkish soap opera cum American middle-class coming-to-age saga about happy, happy people being threatened by ugly Russek. By the way that word, Russek, was one of more ingenious tricks of the author. Do you know that in Polish slang Rusek (without doubling the ‘s’ letter) means a Russian man? Ha, ha, I knew you didn’t! So now you understand better why they rape and kill every woman and every child they encounter! They are ugly, unredeemable, brutes! They were born that way, silly devils!
Ok, I had my moment of fun, let’s return to business at hand. We get a sixteen-year-old high school prom queen princess called Allyssa, the only child of a rubber duck emporium CEO empress Rema, the ruler of Emperion (yeah, that’s what her empire is called so you don’t mix it with a kingdom, a duchy, an earldom or, heavens forbid, a state) and Darmik her gung-ho veteran turned gym trainer mil-tech spouse. Allyssa has an unusual hobby – she escapes the palace at night to roam the streets of the capital and catch thieves. Impressive and cute, right? That thrill when you are risking your life and the future of the whole empire just to pursue a common miscreant…But wait…why do you need a princess acting as a thief-catcher? Search me. From my point of view it is the finest proof Allyssa is an airhead and her mom a very poor ruler. If the City Guard are not doing their job properly an empress should react. If a crown princess is risking her life without a very good reason, just because she wants to experience some illegal thrills, an empress should react as well.
But wait, Allyssa is hardly alone. Our lovely princess, like every Mary Sue worth her salt, has no female friends, no ladies-in-waiting or a court. Still she is often in a company of a boy her age called Grevik (just a friend) and another boy her age called Marek (once again a Polish name and once again, only a friend, no benefits) who is also the head and, it seems, the only member of the princess’s personal guard (one-person personal guard for a crown princess? My mind boggles).
In the second part hormones fluctuate in the air, kiss, procreate and multiply (cue in Turkish seraglio music and half-naked, nubile odalisques dancing cancan). Plenty of proper princes come sniffing after our girl because she is of a marriageable age and marrying a future empress is always so en vogue. Apart from that nasty Russek barbarians are waiting to conquer and slaughter you if you don’t gain the protection of the empire of Emperion (quite a mouthful, isn’t it?).
After a while arrives prince Odar of Fren – a very handsome, very cocky Gary Stu, dressed according the latest fashion. He and Allyssa will hate each other. His squire Jarvik is even worse: handsome, strong and skilled, blunt to the point of being rude, asking personal questions and requiring private moments with Allyssa more and more often…do you feel the ‘Pauper and the Prince’ vibes? *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*. Of course Allyssa hates Jarvik even more than she hates Odar. And then, predictably, she stops. She’ll have to cooperate with the obnoxious prick and kiss him just to see how good she is in kissing-obnoxious-pricks department. Is she good? You bet. The novel ends with the most silly, the most obvious and the most predictable, no-tension cliffhanger I’ve ever seen in YA fantasy romance novels…
Yes, I read this one so you don’t have to, knowing well it might be not pretty. Thank you very much, dear Bloddeued, for pointing this beauty to me! If you’re asking yourself whether I am planning to acquire the next part my answer is: not even if you paid me and donated a crate of champagne!