Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Decoy Princess - Dawn Cook

Summary: Princess Contessa of Costenoploie knows everything a royal should know about diplomacy, self-defense, politics...and shopping.  She ought to.  She had every reason to believe that she was groomed to rule.  But her next lesson is betrayal...

The sudden arrival of her betrothed, a prince from the kingdom of Misdev, has forced Tess's parents to come clean: She's no princess. Their real daughter was raised in a nunnery for fear of assassins.  Tess is nothing but a beggar's child bought off the streets as an infant and reared as a decoy.

So what's a royal highness to do when she discovers she's a royal target?  Ditch the Misdev soldiers occupying the palace, use magical abilities she didn't even know she had, restore the real princess to the throne and save her own neck.  But first, Tess has to deal with the scoundrel who's urging her to run away from it all, and the Misdev captain who's determined to thwart her plans.  (Summary from book - Image from amazon.com)

My Review:  I picked up The Decoy Bride looking for a little romantic adventure escapism without any of the steamier stuff that usually ends up down in the 'sensitive reader' section.  I'd already set down two books because things had gotten hotter and heavier than I was willing to read, so by the time I reached this one all I wanted was an easy, clean read with a decent plot.  The good news:  That's what I got.  The bad news:  That's about all I got.

The Decoy Princess started out well.  The main character, Tess, is smart, stubborn, potentially lethal, and placed in a precarious position pretty early on in the story, when it is revealed that she isn't actually the princess, but a decoy.  She sets out to find Kavenlow, her mentor and protector and the one man that she believe she can trust.  On the way she is joined by Duncan, a cardsharp who wants Tess to use her particular skills to help him get rich, and pursued (for a few reasons) by Jeck, a Misdev captain.  I enjoyed the book's premise, some of the character interaction, and appreciated the light romance, but longed for more atmosphere and deeper characters.  I never really got a good sense of the setting or the characters, which made them hard to envision.  Tess's chemistry with Duncan and Jeck was also hit and miss which made it hard to root for either relationship.

The Decoy Princess's story line felt primarily plot-driven, which can be exciting as long as the plot keeps moving at a good clip.  The first part of the book was well paced and engaging, but about halfway through it began to lag and I started to lose interest.  Things picked up again towards the end when a surprise twist is revealed, but by then I'd lost my investment in the characters, some (not all) of which felt rather undeveloped and easy to leave behind.  Ultimately, I never cared enough about the story to keep me interested past the final page.  I know there is more Tess to come in a sequel, Princess at Sea, but I have no plans to continue reading the series.

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: A handful of swear words (of the D and H variety) and some violence.  Some mild innuendo by secondary characters and kissing.

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