*I received an ecopy of this book from the author. This has not influenced my review.*
This book was a lighthearted and fun fantasy about royals, romance, and life with chronic illness! I loved some things, I had issues with others, so this is a good time for some lists. As usual, I’ll get the negatives out of the way first.
Things I Disliked:
– I was so confused about the world. It had modern Earth things and alluded to products/books/phrases/etc. that we have, but it wasn’t Earth. There was an area inside the Veil and an area outside the Veil, but I have no idea what the difference was. They had cell phones and social media and airplanes, yet they traveled by horse instead of car. There was clearly magic of some sort since there was a talking horses, sand ships, and people with sparkly skin, but none of that was explained. Maybe this was supposed to be the “modern fairytale” aspect mentioned in the blurb, maybe I just wasn’t supposed to think about it too hard, but it felt like a discordant mishmash. Not enough to ruin the story though, and of course this is subjective, so other readers may love this combo of real and fantasy.
– There were some writing choices that also made me confused at times. It wasn’t always clear who was speaking. At one point, the narration went from referring to the prince as Edward to referring to him as Parker; that was his childhood nickname and the name he was going by while they were traveling, but the way it suddenly changed in the narration was jarring, and I’m not sure what I should call him now. There were a couple times when information was withheld and then popped up at a random time, and then I was left trying to figure out how it fit with everything or what the characters were talking about.
Things I Liked:
– The romance was great! I’ve been shying away from romance-focused books lately for various reasons, but this romance worked so well for me. From their very first phone conversation, I could feel the connection between Abbie and Edward. It felt natural and realistic. The flirty banter was fun and exactly what flirting should be, and the more intimate moments (no sex, just hand touching, kissing, that sort of thing) were just the right amount of serious and pulse-pounding. It’s been a while since I’ve had those beginning-stages-of-a-potential-relationship feels, but this book captured them perfectly. The other great thing about the relationship was that it was imperfect. In most books, every kiss is mind-blowing, the hero is always smooth and has swoon-worthy speeches ready at the exact right moments, etc., but not in this book. Which is not to say it was bad! Quite the opposite. The romance was very sweet, and I loved it even more for how realistically and endearingly imperfect it was.
– Edward was adorable! Any girl would be lucky to have him. He was so earnest, open, patient, and sweet. He was a big nerd, and I loved it. But he could also be playful and flirty, and I loved that too.
– I liked Abbie too. She had more rough edges, but she was good-hearted. To the other characters, it might’ve seemed like she just shirked her responsibilities, but she didn’t do it because she was callus; she did it because everyone else was, and she had to look out for herself. I liked how she didn’t let anyone pressure her into doing things she knew would only hurt her.
– The disability rep was wonderful! This is the first SFF book I’ve even found, let alone read, with a main character who has a chronic illness somewhat similar to my own (she has lupus). I loved how the rep included things the average person doesn’t think about or realize about living with chronic illness. It didn’t so much focus on symptoms but rather how the illness impacted her life and how she was treated because of it, and I could relate to much of that. I also found the ending to be very satisfying not only in terms of the romance but also the chronic illness. It didn’t just brush it aside as though it suddenly didn’t exist or matter, and it was all the more happy of an ending for it (and don’t worry, it was in fact a happy ending, one that could easily be enjoyed as a standalone even though there will be more books).
– There were some other types of diversity as well. Edward had very dark skin and wore glasses.
Although I did have some issues, all the most important things were great and easily outweighed the negatives for me. Most importantly, I had a good time reading this! This was a lighthearted fantasy romance with a fun romance, likeable characters, and great chronic illness rep!
Anyone who likes lighthearted fantasy romance, endearingly imperfect relationships, and chronic illness rep.