A fairy tale romance with a plus-sized heroine and plenty of dessert!
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Princess Valeria of Amaranta is fat, but she doesn’t care. All she wants is to eat a lot and lead an idle life. When it is apparent that she cannot get a husband, her mother decides to send her to the Royal Riviera Academy of Fighting Arts. For a chubby princess who has never picked up a sword, life at the Academy is akin to torture. Worst of all, the food is terrible. When Valeria decides to improve Riviera cuisine by sneaking into the palace kitchens and giving orders, little does she know that the crown prince would take interest in her kitchen excursions. As they spend more time together, Valeria must decide whether she should become thin and attractive, or stay in the kitchens and remain fat.
I love Valeria, the princess who lives for her palate, the girl who stays true to what she loves even when nobody else understands it. I love all the food. I love the contrasts between the made-up countries and how I could easily see those countries being real and on a map of Europe. (I imagine Amaranta as an island off of Greece: beautiful, calm, slow pace of life, lots of water, lots of sunshine, great food…) I could do with a bit more description of people’s appearances and specifically their outfits, but since the story was from Valeria’s point of view and Valeria loves her food but couldn’t care less about dresses and decorum, it worked.
I didn’t love the pacing. It was awful. It seemed to take a good while – at least half the book – to get to where Valeria is actually at the Academy. That part would actually be paced really well if the rest of the scenes were in proper proportion to it. But the travels seemed a little too short for such a far-off trip. And once Valeria was at the Academy, I felt like the author was rushing to make everything happen, as if she was scribbling down her thoughts and checking them off her outline without making sure the flow was natural in the story.
I didn’t love the prince and Valeria’s relationship to him; again – too fast! I mean, there was hardly any romance, at all, ever! Little hints, yes, but that’s just a good start, not a whole love story. And then near the end all this stuff about Ralph suddenly being constantly worried and jealous and insecure… it was a bit ridiculous.
There were a few places with just plain poor writing. The grammar was out of whack and the word choices and vocabulary seemed too limited and simplistic for the story. And the first major scene with Prince Ralph… ugh. The whole rest of the book, both before and after this scene, does well to stay in Valeria’s head. But the first scene with Ralph and Valeria in the kitchen drove me crazy. If we are reading Valeria’s POV, and Valeria does not read minds, we do not see what is in Ralph’s head. We can. not. see. what is in Ralph’s head. It’s not natural, it doesn’t work – just a big no-no. I don’t know if Aya has a professional editor, but if she doesn’t, she needs one, and if she does, she needs a new one.
After all that negative, I have to bring up one other thing I really did love – two, actually: Valeria’s maids. Effie and Winnifred were awesome and it’s easy to identify their personalities and feel like you know them well. Honestly, I was a bit surprised – its seems the author put a lot of effort into developing these side characters, while Ralph and the people related to him still feel like they need work. Regardless, Effie is one of those people you either love or are driven crazy by. Personally, I think it’s a bit of both – in a good way.
My advice to the author? Pull this off the market; take a few lessons in craft; do a major rewrite; and republish for the world to enjoy. I mean, the story and main character are amazing; the prince’s character and the structure just need work. This book could really go places with a rewrite and proper editing.
I give this book 2.5 stars.
I received this book for free through LibraryThing’s Member Giveaways in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Find me every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at my blog, Emily Rachelle Writes where I discuss books, family, media, faith, and life as an atypical American girl.