Published by Swoon Reads on May 16th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Blog Tour, NetGalley
My content rating: YA/NA (Characters are college-aged; they have sex, but it's not described---fade to black)
Chin up, Princess, or the crown will slip.
A theme park princess must put her life back together after her happily ever after falls apart in this contemporary YA romance from Karole Cozzo, author of How to Keep Rolling After a Fall and How to Say I Love You Out Loud.
Everything was supposed to be perfect. Alyssa has a job she loves, working as Cinderella at her favorite theme park; a fantastic group of friends; and a boyfriend who will no longer be long distance. But as the summer progresses, her prince becomes less charming and more distant, and Alyssa's perfect summer falls apart.
Forced to acknowledge that life is not always a fairy tale, Alyssa starts working to pull her herself back together. Fortunately, she doesn't have to do it alone. With her friend Miller's support, she's determined to prove that she's more than just a pretty princess. And with his help, maybe she's finally ready for something better than dreams. Maybe she's ready for something real.
Once again, Cozzo gives us a realistically romantic story of fairy tale proportions.
A little note about the genre: The book is officially billed as YA, but the characters are all in college, so I think of it more as NA. I think it’s YA because there are no actual sex scenes (a few implied fade to black scenes) and it’s overall a sweet romance, appropriate for high schoolers, even younger ones (there is a bit of drinking with a fake ID, but nothing else that would be seen as particularly questionable). New Adult readers who want books that cover the college-aged experience and don’t focus on sex would find this to be a perfect match!
What Fed My Addiction:
- Fairy tale setting. The book takes place at a Disneyesque theme park and it was really fun to read about the job and how the people who work there as characters feel about it all. I don’t know if Cozzo has any sort of firsthand knowledge of working in this sort of environment, but I felt like her portrayal of it seemed very realistic: She gives us the good (fairy tales all the time! working with adorable kids!) and the bad (having to be “on” and cheerful no matter what, having to live up to certain body standards), and I really loved it all!
- Realistic break-up. Just read the blurb and you’ll realize that Alyssa has some rocky times ahead for her in this book. She’s been holding on to her “fairy tale” relationship, even though things have been less than perfect. I loved that the depiction of Alyssa and Jake’s relationship isn’t terribly tumultuous—they aren’t constantly fighting or purposely hurting each other. Things just aren’t working between them for various reasons. And this sometimes happens in real life. (There are some negatives about the relationship for me as well—but you can read about those in the Take It or Leave It section below).
- Alyssa is a beautiful sorority girl with heart. So often, we see the portrayal of the gorgeous sorority girl who’s just plain mean-spirited or shallow. Alyssa embodies the sorority girl lifestyle—she cares about her looks and fashion, she’s dedicated to her sisters, and she wants to fit in—but this book shows us that those things don’t define Alyssa. They’re aspects of her personality, sure, but she’s not a cardboard cutout. And sometimes the people around her have trouble seeing that. Alyssa is genuinely nice and sweet—it’s not an act she puts on. She strives to include people and make them feel welcomed. She doesn’t mind following the rules because she sees the value in them. That doesn’t make her a pushover or a doormat—it makes her a genuinely good person. It was kind of refreshing to see this sort of character!
- The “real” romance. Once Alyssa finds her true match, she completely clicks with him and he’s all sorts of adorable. I dare anyone not to fall in love with him! I was actually rooting for him right from the top of the book, and I think many other readers will be too.
- All the feels. This book broke my heart in parts and sometimes it made me really mad, but it also made me laugh and swoon and generally overflow with happiness.
Take It Or Leave It:
- Alyssa’s body image obsession. Even though I generally love Alyssa, she’s a realistic person and not completely perfect. One aspect of her personality that bothered me sometimes was her obsession with her body and working out. It’s interesting because Alyssa sort of waffles on her feelings about needing the “perfect body.” On the one hand, she seems a bit self-conscious and frustrated about the high expectations of the theme park and how they do inspections to make sure the girls live up to them. But then she’s mostly okay with it because she understands why they have those expectations (and she makes some good points about how there are some professions that require a bit more attention to image than others). And there are times in the book where Alyssa seems to realize that she’s going a little too far and she makes some adjustments. She also realizes that her body image (and her views on fashion) stem from a need for control in her life. I don’t know, I guess I was a bit torn and conflicted about the body image issues in the book—but, in a way, I think that’s okay because it’s realistic. After all, it’s a complicated subject with no cut and dry answers. That’s pretty much how it’s presented in the book.
- The relationship downfall. While I appreciated that the book was realistic when it came to Alyssa’s souring relationship with Jake, I kind of wish that the cheating aspect hadn’t been thrown in. It seemed unnecessary since the real reason for the troubles between them seemed to be the simple fact that they didn’t click perfectly and weren’t really right for each other. On the other hand, I guess that could lead to falling for someone else, but … I don’t know, I guess I just wished Jake hadn’t been turned into the “bad guy” so we had someone to blame. Still, it was sort of necessary for Alyssa to end up in the bad state that she eventually got to, so, again, I’m torn. (Oh, and I also thought Alyssa was being pretty selfish about Jake’s opportunity, which would take him further away from her.)
What Left Me Hungry for More:
- A bit predictable. I think I predicted pretty much everything that was going to happen in this book right at the beginning. That didn’t stop me from enjoying it all as it was unfolding, though!
Okay, I hate it when I write a review for a book I loved and the conflicted part of the review takes up more space than the positives. It’s just because the parts I’m conflicted about are harder to describe! I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it was a perfect read for my mood—I sped through it in a day! So I highly recommend this one if you’re looking for a bittersweet love story (that ends up being sweet!). I give this book an easy 4/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via The Fantastic Flying Book Club and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Karole lives outside of Philadelphia, PA with her loving husband, exuberant little girl, and smiley little boy. She adores YA Romance, because it would be awesome if life in general had a requisite feel-good happy ending rule. Vices include obscene Haribo gummy consumption, addiction to Starbucks NF vanilla lattes, and tendency to hoard Bath and Body Works 3-wick candles.