Thank you to Tor Teen for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
A STABLE BOY
When her father dies, Princess Amarande is given an ultimatum: Marry the leader of one of the four neighboring kingdoms, or lose her crown—and possibly her life. And to force her hand, her beloved, the stable boy Luca, is kidnapped.
But Amarande was raised to be a warrior, not a sacrifice.
And nothing will stop her from saving her true love and rescuing her kingdom.
The acclaimed author of Sea Witch turns the classic damsel-in-distress tale on its head with this story of adventure, identity, and love.
The Princess Will Save You is a gender-bending retelling of The Princess Bride. Our heroine Amarande is the daughter of the Warrior King who has the strongest army in all the Skye & Sand (?) and has been trained her whole life to be a deadly warrior. After the death of her father though, she is informed she cannot be Queen unless she marries? It was so weird that her father left this archaic law in place but believed women had the right to fight and not conform to societal rules.
Amarande was so freaking fierce, never afraid to speak her mind or standup for herself or her kingdom. She never faltered in putting her kingdom first and considering what would be best for her people. I do have to say she was overhyped in her skills as a warrior though, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Her father had her trained and while skilled with a weapon she really was coddled in her training which we see in her journey to save Luca. In un-ideal conditions she realizes just how much her training was lacking and falters at the idea of actually killing someone. I saw the journey as humbling her rather than disappointing me that she wasn’t this magnificent warrior we were first sold on. When push comes to shove she does pull the trigger though.
The romance was a bit lacking. Luca is captured right at the beginning of the story though so we don’t get to spend much time with them together. We are instead told how Ama and Luca have been childhood friends that shifted into more and that everyone knew but them that they were in love with each other. I would have like to have gotten that feel for myself since it felt very insta-love even though it was a friends to love situation. When they are reunited though we get to see that affection in action though and by the end of the book it was believable.
Luca himself deserved better though. He came across as this sweet little cinnamon roll with no real personality beyond being incredibly kind and handsome. I wanted to see what Amarande did and understand why everyone that came across him liked him. He just felt like this weak love interest, a plaything of Ama’s which wasn’t fair to him at all. As the story grew so did his personality but it still wasn’t much. I’m hoping he gets more page time in the next book to help fill him out more as a character but think that definitely should have been handled in the first book.
The pacing of the book felt a little off. The beginning and end were the best parts of this book. Action-packed and engaging, really making you think and figure out just what the heck was going on that Ama didn’t know about. The middle seemed to drag on as endlessly as the desert Ama and Luca were trekking through. This is a decent sized book and I think the middle could have been utilized better. Ama does face challenges that change her during this time, but it was only her parts I looked forward to.
The ending blew the rest of this book out of the water and is definitely the reason why I’ll be picking up book two. Twists and turns, some that I was expecting and one that just completely shocked me. I know there are many more to come too just based off of the questions Ama herself brought up and the breadcrumbs scattered throughout the story.