If you’ve read my query letter in a contest or my post on where I get my ideas, you already know I’m a big fan of Lindsey Leavitt’s PRINCESS FOR HIRE series. So of course I had to pick up the final book as soon as it came out. If you haven’t read the first two books, you should wait to read this review as it has spoilers for those unfamiliar with the series.
In the first book, Desi discovered she had magical potential and was recruited as a princess substitute. In book two, she learned her employer had some disturbing secrets. Here’s the description of the finale from the inside cover:
With her rare magical powers and a gift for getting herself out of trouble, Desi Bascomb has become the darling of the Facade Agency. She’s the youngest girl ever to advance to Level Three as a full-time royal sub.
Now all eyes are on Desi, but the only thing she wants is a moment alone to talk to her crush, Reed, who she’s just discovered is actually a sub for princes! Except spending time with him might be Desi’s worst idea yet–Facade is spying on their every move, and her best friend, Kylee, has a crush on Reed, too.
But Desi has a problem more treacherous than lying to her BFF: Facade is hiding something big. Behind the glitz and glam of the agency is a dark secret–the misuse of magic. It’s up to Desi to fix Facade’s suspicious practices, but if she gets caught, her magic and memories will be erased. Is she willing to sacrifice her time with Reed and her job as a princess sub to do what’s right?
Here are the five things I loved most:
1. The magical premise – Ok, this point really covers all three books, but it’s the initial hook that made me read the first book and immediately pick up the second. I hated that I had to wait six months for the last one. In any case, I love the way Desi’s magic allows her to be physically identical to the princesses she subs for and that her specific magical gift–empathy–enables her to make good decisions in their place. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to become a princess for a day or two, especially when it’s temporary and you can go back to your normal life?
2. The princess assignments – I love the variety of princesses Desi is assigned to impersonate, starting with the African tribal princess in book one. She gets into all kinds of crazy situations–mostly related to abilities the princesses have that she doesn’t–and she always figures out a way to turn things around without blowing the princess’ cover. I don’t want to give away her solutions, but throughout the three books, she overcomes everything from a french horn performance to a tumbling demonstration.
3. Real issues – Despite the magical premise, Desi deals with real-life issues that are reflected in both her sub jobs and her normal life. She’s still a typical teenager navigating friendships, family changes, a crush, and doing the right thing. She struggles with the last one in particular in this book, deciding what she’s willing to give up for the greater good. It’s not all magical bubbles and tiaras.
4. Young love – Ah, young love. I grew up reading romance novels, so I’m all for a love story, and this one is especially sweet. As readers who are probably long past the first love stage, we can tell Reed returns Desi’s affections, but she’s wrapped up in doubts, second-guessing both who Reed is and what his actions mean. It made me remember what that’s like, and it’s a treasured memory.
5. The voice – I just love Desi and the way she reasons things out. She’s funny and caring and smart. I could pull any number of examples from the book, but I’ll go with one that also demonstrates point No. 4:
“…I’d only recently figured out that Reed was the boy I liked when I discovered that he worked for Facade and might just be my long-lost Prince Charming. I don’t mean that in a cutesy way, either. I’d fallen for Prince Karl while on a job in the Alps, and I’m pretty sure Reed was substituting for him at the same time. I still needed to talk to Reed about it, but how could I bring that up? Hey, Reed, have you ever fallen for a princess while subbing who wasn’t really the royal you thought? You have? Yay! That was me! Let’s get married! Or at least get a milk shake.”
So, who else has read this series? Did the conclusion satisfy you? I’ll add that Lindsey Leavitt tweeted she’s not planning any more stories for Desi.
For querying authors, Lindsey Leavitt is represented by Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary Agency.