Family can be complicated. Especially when skeletons from the past pop up unexpectedly. For American Evie Gray, finding out her deceased mother had a secret identity, and not one of the caped crusader variety, was quite the surprise. Evie’s mom had a secret life before she was even born, one that involved tiaras.
In this modern day fairytale, Evie is on a path to figure out who her mom really was, while discovering for herself what the future will hold. Charged with her late mother’s letters, Evie embarks on a quest into her past. The first item on the list is to attend Oxford, her mom’s alma mater. There, Evie stumbles upon a real life prince charming, Edmund Stuart the second Prince of England, who is all too happy to be the counterpart to her damsel in distress.
Evie can’t resist her growing attraction to Edmund as they spend more time together trying to unravel the clues her mother left behind. But, when doubts arise as to whether or not Edmund could ever be with an untitled American, what really ends up unraveling is Evie’s heart. When Evie uncovers all the facts about her mom’s former life, she realizes her mom’s past can open doors she never dreamed possible, doors that can help her be with Edmund. But, with everything now unveiled, Evie starts to crack under the pressure of new family responsibilities and the realization that her perfect prince may want her for all the wrong reasons.
I'm not sure where to start with this review. I apologize in advance -- I think it's going to be pretty disjointed. I'm just going to type stuff as I think of it. OK? OK! Here goes!
First of all, the blurb above is MUCH better than the blurb on the back cover of the book. The back cover blurb described the book, but almost too much, and not the important things? It was weird. To me it didn't read as a teaser to make you pick up the book. It read as a slightly-off summary or something. I have an ARC, so I'll be curious to see if they edit it on the actual book.
This book flew by and had good pacing. The first time I set it down was not because I wanted to, but because I had to go to bed or something equally important. (Lol). I loved this book when I first started reading it because I really enjoy reading books that take place at college or in boarding school. Emily also did a good job with English slang (although this seemed to taper off a bit as the book went out.) Jax was quite horrible and she was a good villain, if you will. Chloe, too. I enjoyed disliking them greatly.
The tension between Edmund and Evie was deliciously tempting! It was a touch too insta-infatuation, but not enough to be unrealistic. Evie was so stubborn and impulsive that I found myself frustrated with her a lot of times. I'd think, "Evie, what are you doing?!? Whhyyy??!" and then, of course, she'd cool down and feel remorse for what she did and I'd think, "Well, yeah, that's what you get..."
Sorry to go back to the blurbing and all, but I also don't understand the tagline: "He's Secretly Loyal"? That makes zero sense to me. I enjoyed the ideas of the birthday letters and the quest letters. (I told you this review would be all over the place. Sorry about that!) My understanding through the letters was that Evie's Mom was giving her this information and then setting this big choice in front of her...but when the time came in the book, it wasn't really treated like it. For it being a big choice, the decision was made quickly and without pomp and circumstance. I think it either should have been presented as a big deal and then treated as big decision/dilemma for Evie, or it shouldn't have been presented as a big deal and it could be presented as it was. Does that make sense at all? I'm also trying not to come outright and say it, because I want to be cautious of spoilers. I also kind of have the same thoughts regarding another choice Evie makes at the end. It seems to come out of nowhere, she presents it to her friends who are like, "What?!" and then it's squashed in a sentence or two toward the end of the book. Also, it's mentioned on the ARC blurb and I don't think it's an important enough plot point to be mentioned there. (See? I'm kind of coming full circle!)
Speaking of her friends, I did really like them! The gang is great, and I loved reading her interactions with Preston, Suzy and the others. I also really enjoyed the views we got of London and Paris. I loved reading the fun facts that Edmund had for Evie and reading about those places made me really, really want to be there! The scene at the Eiffel Tower was perfection. *Sighs*
I guess my summary, if I can try to bring my thoughts together, is that while some of it felt a bit disjointed and off, and I didn't agree with some of the marketing text, The Heir and the Spare was a fun and delicious read! The pacing was great, and I finished this book easily within a few reading sessions. It makes for a great escape to (though the eyes of Evie) travel to London, find out you're royalty, and fall in love with a handsome prince!
Thank you to Merit Press for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.