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4/5; 4 stars; A-
I really enjoyed this book, the second half, following Once a Princess. This review covers both books, with the only difference being my impressions of the two different narrators. I don't think a person should read Once a Princess or Twice a Prince as a standalone unless they want to be quite disappointed because its really only half of a bigger book.
I must thank Sherwood Smith for giving me the chance to listen to both of these audiobooks by generously offering me Audible codes.
I really liked the female characters in these books. They had guts and integrity as well as ingenuity and loyalty. For most of the story, Sasha and her mom, Sun, each have their own adventure and challenges, even though they are heading in the same direction. The POV varies back and forth between them.
Sasha was an admirable young woman, in that she had taken her self defense lessons in her youth seriously, knowing some day she might really need to use them. But at the same time, she embraced her life in the U.S. and didn't sit around thinking 'oh, one day I'm going to be princess so I am better than everyone else'. When she was sucked back into the realm of her birth, she was everything she needed to be; smart, resourceful, cautious and determined. And she had ample opportunity to put her self defense training to good use. Fun sword fights and swashbuckling ensued. Despite all the action, I liked that she never lost sight of her goal of finding her father.
Sun had a bit of a trickier time pursuing her goals since she was a prisoner for much of the book, however, when the opportunity arose, she found her own way to rouse the kingdom against the bad guys and seek out her lost husband. I had a chuckle at her struggles with hot flashes. Its such an annoying fact of life that half the population deals with yet it rarely gets factored into character development. Hats off to the author for that one.
I really enjoyed Prince Jehan and the pirate Zathdar. Quite a bit of the humor of the story was woven into these characters. It became clear fairly early in the first half of the book that the courage, ingenuity, and purpose of both could make them none other than the same person. i enjoyed Jehan's 'deep game'. Even though he was such a strong and intelligent character, near the end of the second book, his vulnerabilities and youth showed through. The disillusionment with his father and then his subsequent death were really hard blows for a young man to handle.
Most of the other main characters in the story were various members of the 'bad guys' but they were painted with enough depth to make them interesting and even sympathetic to some degree. Although I must say that while King Canardan wasn't a solid black villain and he had 'nuances' his war commander was pure evil. You have to have at least one really bad guy right?
This story was a fun adventure that can appeal to young readers as well as adults. The second half had a bit more in the way of romance but it was still very subtle. There is a HEA for Sun as well as her daughter which is appealing to the part of me that loves a romance story.
One final note with respect to the narration of the audiobook. I liked the narration of James Patrick Cronin very much. However, this is the second part of one big book and I think Audible made a mistake in changing narrators.
Overall, I liked Cronin's voice more than Almasy's (the narrator for Once a Princess), but he wasn't as consistent in changing timbre and accent when changing characters.
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