A compulsively readable YA novel that seems like an adult romance, which may appeal to older teenagers looking for something...

Paper Princess

From the The Royals series , Vol. 1

An orphan enters a world of privilege and decadence after she’s taken in by a wealthy family in this debut YA romance.

Seventeen-year-old Ella Harper is determined to overcome a difficult childhood. Raised by a single mother, she’s never met her father; however, she has a few clues as to his identity: his name is Steve, and her mother met him while he was in the U.S. Navy. After her mother’s death, Ella moves to a small town in Tennessee, enrolls in school, and takes a job as a stripper. One day, a man named Callum Royal comes to her school and tells her that Steve died and he’s her new guardian. They served together in the Navy, he says, before they built a successful aviation company. He’s helping to settle Steve’s estate and support the daughter whom Steve never located. Wary of his motives but hoping to learn more about her father, Ella accompanies Callum to his estate, where she meets his five sons, Gideon, Reed, Easton, and twins Sawyer and Sebastian. Their mother died under questionable circumstances, and they have a strained relationship with Callum. They’re also openly hostile toward Ella, particularly Reed. Ella soon discovers dark undercurrents in the family while also discovering her attraction to the sullen Reed. They fall in love, but secrets from the past soon threaten their relationship. Watt’s novel moves along at a brisk, enjoyable pace, and it’s built on an intriguing premise with well-developed characters. She doesn’t overplay her hand by revealing too much too soon; instead, small details, such as a mysterious bruise on Reed’s face, lead to shocking revelations later in the story. Ella is a dynamic, sympathetic protagonist who appreciates Callum’s generosity while trying to remain grounded. Although her relationship with Reed begins on an antagonistic note, it gradually evolves into one that crackles with passion. However, some of their scenes together are more erotic than many written for adult novels, so they might be more appropriate for an older YA or adult audience.

A compulsively readable YA novel that seems like an adult romance, which may appeal to older teenagers looking for something in the vein of Gossip Girl.

Pub Date: April 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68230-456-3

Page Count: 370

Publisher: EverAfter Platinum

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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