his forbidden princess is the fourth book in the royal holiday series of novellas. this is the shortest book in the series, at 110 pages, and yet there is a lot of story here. maybe too much story for the short length? this is a second chance at love story, so the two characters have a lot of history, but again because of the short length you aren't given a lot of time to see how their original relationship developed.
basically you see their break-up, which happens the morning after they first sleep together and the fact that sofie is a princess to a small european country is revealed. our hero, ian, realizes that there is likely no future where their relationship can survive and she can keep her relationship with her family and country, so he takes it upon himself to break them up. this whole scene was a little weird because it didn't feel like he was really being that big of a jerk for a guy who had just discovered that his girlfriend had been keeping a pretty big secret about herself from him.
this is basically the problem with the whole novella. there is no time to let things develop so the characters jump from feeling one way to feeling another way in the same paragraph. you kind of have whiplash throughout the story. as far as these kinds of stories go, there aren't any major surprises. when they reconnect eight years after the initial scene sofie is in danger. her country is in upheaval and she is now the next in line for the throne. but there is a group of insurgents anxious to overthrow the monarchy. and here again the short format inhibited the story-telling because while the author tried to explain why these things were happening, aubonne is also supposed to be this little utopia where people love their monarchy, which felt too much like trying to have things both ways. you can have economic unrest and uncertainty without compromising your characters or their families, right? it just didn't feel realistic. and sure, you already know it's a fantasy because the country doesn't really exist, but this type of story does best when it rings true.
so that's the other issue, a lot of story is spent on the fact that because sofie and ian slept together that one time in college she's ruined because she isn't a virgin. and while i'm sure being royal requires more decorum, in this day and age no one is going to believe that a european monarchy is really going to care about that. it just doesn't ring true and is so old-fashioned and weird to fixate on. like, it's fine if sofie hadn't wanted to move on from ian, but the fact is that when she tried she was rejected as having been despoiled is just really strange. like, i don't even understand why anyone would have brought this up in conversation.
in the end, this is a fun, quick read. it's not all that deep, but it doesn't have the room to be deep. i'm also not clear on why this series is called the royal holiday series, because i can't tell what holiday season this allegedly takes place during. but eh, that is such a silly nit to pick i kind of can't believe i mentioned it.
**his forbidden princess published april 28, 2015. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/barclay publicity in exchange for my honest review.