Samantha Rousseau barely even notices the royals visiting her college campus. She's a wildlife biology grad student specializing in raptors. Between taking care of injured raptors, teaching classes, convincing her truck to keep working, and dealing with her stepfather's medical bills, there isn't much time in her life for anything else. Then she gets invited to what she thinks is dinner with a potential donor, only to be told that she's one of Lilaria's lost royals. The queen wants to reinstate her title and lands, which would mean leaving her studies and life in Minnesota behind. On the plus side, Lilaria is supposed to have an excellent healthcare system - they might have more effective treatments for her stepfather's prostate cancer, and it would certainly be better for her finances.
It's a lot for Samantha to think about, and unfortunately there isn't much quiet time for thinking. Reporters immediately start swarming, and her classes are suddenly filled with people who definitely aren't interested in birds. Then there's the gorgeous and enticing Prince Alex. Is he really as interested in her as he seems, or is he just trying to convince her to go to Lilaria and accept her title? And even if he is interested in her, what sort of relationship could she, an American who knows nothing about royal life and can't speak a word of Lilarian, hope to have with a prince?
If you've read and enjoyed other "ordinary person discovers they're a royal" stories, there's really nothing new here. This wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't great either, and in some ways it suffered from me having read (and enjoyed) Alyssa Cole's A Princess in Theory a year ago.
Samantha was an okay heroine, but a little too prone to jealousy for my tastes. The romance's timeline didn't help - during Samantha and Alex's first kiss (right in front of the mouse that Samantha had just sliced up for the injured raptors), I found myself doing the math, and I'm pretty sure they'd known each other for less than 24 hours. No matter how well they connected, both of them should have had reasons to want to take it slow. Samantha was dealing with the revelations about her family and trying to make a life-changing decision. Alex had a relatively recent relationship scandal - he knew full well what the paparazzi could do if they caught a whiff of anything between him and Samantha. Also, they'd literally just met.
The story was surprisingly low conflict. Every time I thought Chase had introduced a character or detail that was going to become a drama time bomb, nothing came of it. The zookeeper who seemed overly interested in Samantha? Mentioned once or twice later on and then never again. Alex's most recent ex? Zero on-page appearances. Prince Alex's sister's romantic life didn't turn into an enormous scandal, none of Alex's other exes were horrible to Samantha, and no one had problems with Samantha becoming a Lilarian duchess. Even Chadwick's relationship problems were resolved without any drama (and while it's great that the book includes a gay couple, you can bet I noticed and raised an eyebrow at their complete lack of on-page appearances together - not even an on-page phone conversation). Most of the book was devoted to Samantha deciding to go to Lilaria, getting used to her new life, fretting about her growing feelings for Alex, and worrying about her stepfather.
Speaking of Samantha's stepfather, I wasn't wild about how the medical stuff was handled. Each chapter started with a news headline, and Chapter 9's was "Lilarian Health Care Makes Headway with Homeopathic Medicines." I spent the rest of the book wondering whether Chase was going to make homeopathy the miracle cure for Samantha's stepfather's cancer (FYI, "homeopathic medicine" is garbage and I consider the word "homeopathic" on product packaging to be an immediate red flag). Now that I've finished the book, I think what Chase was using things like "homeopathic medicine" (87), "holistic and natural methods" (93), and "herbal supplements" (93) as shorthand for "Lilarian doctors are more flexible." Considering that it ultimately made no difference in Samantha's stepfather's medical treatment (chemo), I wish Chase had written about the Lilarian specialist differently.
All in all, this was an okay but fairly forgettable book. It's unfortunate that it's first-person POV - I didn't hate that aspect, but there's an excerpt from the second book, which is also first-person POV but from the perspective of Prince Alex's sister, and Samantha and Cathy's "voices" aren't distinct enough for my tastes. I don't intend to read the next book in the series.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)