January 18, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Chick Lit, British Literature, New Adult
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/B&N/or Amazon
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.
The Heir and the Spare is sort of a blend of What A Girl Wants, The Princess Diaries and The Prince and Me. Evie really only knows her mother - who died when Evie was 6 - through the letters she receives each year, on her birthday.
As part of her 'quest' to do what some new, separate letters have planned for her and to, hopefully, learn more about her mother, Evie is attending Oxford. The school where her parents met and fell in love may just hold some romance for Evie, as well. The more Evie delves into her mother's past and the more the relationships she's formed in England develop, the less sure she is about everything.
Here's the thing: I didn't really like Evie. I'm not sure if it was that the inclusion of her thoughts (in italics) in the novel made her significantly more immature than I would expect of a nineteen-year-old who got into Oxford, or if it was that she didn't seem to do things enough for herself. Either way, I did not love her. Even when she is supposed to be doing something for her, I felt that it was too based on someone else, what they thought or did or expected - or even who they were/had been.
But I liked Suzy and Caroline and Edmund and Preston (who I think I may have liked most). It was a bit unbelievable that Evie did not recognize Edmund at first (I thought a made up country or lesser known one would have been more understandable than England here) but his reaction to her not knowing was one of my favorite parts of the novel.
I don't know if I bought Evie as an Oxford student (but maybe that was just because I didn't click with her) but why she was there was a nice element to the story. The trips to London and the bits about those with titles made it feel more like England.
The romance was cute and sweet - though frustrating and stuck in place quite a bit, too. I did not love one of the main characters (Evie) but the others helped to make up for that. I wish there was some sort of prequel or sequel to The Heir and the Spare that focused on Preston and a girlfriend, or some of the other characters; I really would love to see/know more about them and their lives.
Then, this last thing that I am not sure fits a review but I needed to say it: The sexual/relationship ethics of the book bothered me at times. There is an attempted sexual assault that seems to have no repercussions, a character is glad for an interruption because, "If we'd gone much further, I'd never have been able to stop," and there is a student/teacher relationship that no one seems to take issue with. They are, mostly, small things and don't impact the story or who the characters are (much) but they still feel a little squicky.
The Heir and the Spare is a fun twist on that normal-girl-falls-in-love-with-a-prince story and the added element of the mystery around Evie's mother, her past, and what it means for Evie is something new. There were some characters in this book I really would like to see more of, somehow.
This Guy as Edmund
Seriously, I have no idea who he is - it's a hairstyle photo - but I still pick him. If it needs to be someone that's an actor/known, then Chris Hemsworth or Alex Pettyfer. . .
or Alex Pettyfer as Edmund
Holland Roden as Evie
Juno Temple as Suzy
Zach Boerig as Preston
Vanessa Morgan as Caroline
"It was Emily Post on crack meets Martha Stewart on acid." -pg 216 (earc)
About the Author:
Emily Albright's debut novel, THE HEIR AND THE SPARE, is releasing January 18, 2016 from Merit Press.
She's a writer, a major bookworm, a lover of romantic movies, a wife, a mother, an owner of one adorable (yet slightly insane) cockapoo, and uses way too many :).
a Rafflecopter giveaway