The Princess Deception by Nell StarkThe Princess Deception by Nell Stark is a fun interpretation of Twelfth Night and the third novel in the Princess Affair series. It’s a standalone story, so you don’t have to have read The Princess Affair or The Princess and the Prix first (although if you have read them, you’ll definitely want to check this one out too!).

Belgium is poised to bid on hosting the next World Cup, thanks to the efforts of the Crown Prince, Sebastian. When Sebastian overdoses on heroin, however, his family has to figure out the massive problem on their hands. Little do the King and Queen know that his twin sister, Viola, has a plan—she’ll cut her hair, wear Sebastian’s clothes and drop her voice to sound like his, making the world think that Sebastian is still running the bid efforts and not in some fancy rehab centre in Switzerland.

Missy Duke was at the top of the pro soccer world when an injury knocked her off the pitch for good. Now she’s building a new career in sports journalism, with her first gig covering the bid for the World Cup. When she’s at the kickoff for the bid festivities, Duke notices something peculiar—Sebastian has picked up a few quirks. Quirks that his sister, Viola, showed in videos that Duke had recently watched on YouTube. Knowing there must be more to the story, Duke plays along as she finds herself spending time with the princess.

The chemistry is undeniable between Duke and Viola. But can a relationship ever happen between them when every interaction is built on lies?

The Characters

Duke and Viola are both well done and I enjoyed seeing their relationship develop, even as they danced around the truth. I’m not a huge fan of deception in romances, but in this case it worked really well, since the whole story hinges on it. Also, I suspect that I liked it because Viola’s deception was intended to help her brother so he could recover in peace, and because I appreciated how Duke handled things when she realized why Viola was keeping up the pretense.

Fans of Stark’s other two Princess books will be happy to spend more time with Kerry, Sasha, Thalia and Alix. Like I mentioned, it’s not at all necessary to have read their books, but having read them meant that it felt like I was visiting with old friends.

The Writing Style

The Princess Deception had a fun feel to much of it as Viola and Duke danced around each other, especially in the first half. I hadn’t read the play or watched the 1996 adaptation in years (oh, big sigh for Helena Bonham Carter…), so I went into the book remembering very little of the original. I was pleased by how easy it was to enjoy the story with little to no knowledge of the play, and then I enjoyed The Princess Deception all the more when I refreshed myself on the original.

The Narration

I’m really torn. I enjoyed a lot of the narration, which isn’t surprising since I’ve made no secret how much I love listening to books performed by Nicola Victoria Vincent. Unfortunately, her American accents didn’t work for me at all and I found them distracting. Also, I can’t speak to how good her Belgian and Dutch accents were, because I’m not very familiar with those. If that’s the kind of thing that’s likely to bother you, then you might want to read The Princess Deception rather than listen to it, but I didn’t regret listening to this one.

The Pros

Everything worked for me!

The Cons

Apart from that American accent in the narration issue, the worst I can say about The Princess Deception is that I hated one of the characters very much. That’s really not a con, though, since we’re supposed to hate this person.

The Conclusion

If you like princess romances, romances where one of the women is pretending to be a man, or a story that’s a little different than your usual lesbian romance, you’ll want to pick up The Princess Deception. It’s fun and sexy and an all around great book.

Excerpt from The Princess Deception by Nell Stark

André’s mouth opened, then closed. As surprise gave way to comprehension, his eyes narrowed. “You want to impersonate Sebastian.”

“Until he’s out of rehab, yes. If my parents announce his condition, he won’t have a moment’s peace once he leaves the facility. If they don’t announce it, they’ll have to make excuses for Sebastian’s disappearance from the public scene, and the media will ferret out the truth anyway.” She leaned forward, silently willing his skepticism to yield to her logic. “If I impersonate him and am discovered, what’s the worst that can happen? The world will learn a truth they were already bound to discover. And along the way, I might be able to learn what actually happened yesterday. Wouldn’t you like to know who abandoned him to the mercy of an unknown driver while he was slowly asphyxiating? Because I sure as hell would.”

André said nothing. She forced herself to hold his gaze while the silence grew and grew, until it seemed to suck all the oxygen from the room.

“If you’re caught, you’ll be dragged through the mud, too,” he finally said. “The media might even make it worse for you than for him.”

Viola hesitated, choosing her words carefully. “Right now, you’re feeling guilt for what you didn’t say. I feel guilt for what I didn’t see. I’m his twin, André. I should have known. I’ll do whatever it takes to protect him now. But I can’t, without you.” She extended one open hand across the table. “Will you help me make this right?”

For one long, agonizing moment, she thought he would refuse. When he finally reached out to clasp her hand, she exhaled sharply in relief.

“So,” he said. “Where do we start?”

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The Princess Affair

The Princess and the Prix

The Princess Deception

Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781626399792
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
  • Audiobook Publisher: Bold Strokes Books Inc
  • Narrator: Nicola Victoria Vincent

Nell Stark Online

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