By Annette K. Larsen
Ariella was only looking for a distraction, something to break up the monotony of palace life. What she found was a young man willing to overlook her title and show her a new and vibrant way of life. But when her growing feelings for Gavin spiral out of control and clash with the expectations of her station, she will discover that the consequences of her curiosity are far more severe than she’d imagined.
I went into reading this book thinking I was getting a lovely little fluff piece about a swollen-headed princess that learns peasants are people too. Wrongo-bongo. This is one of my favorites of its genre now that I’ve found it, and I have a gap on my shelf waiting for it. Just Ella is not a story about Cinderella, it’s a story about a girl who feels alone because she is royalty and looks everywhere for a friend. She is destined to be queen one day, and feels the pressure and loneliness keenly. One day she meets gardener Gavin, who treats her kindly and like a person not just a princess. Of course, inevitably, they fall in love. But is this the whole story? No. This next part is what made me love this book and set it apart as one of the best of its genre. This book features love, as life features love, but it is ultimately about a girl trying to discover who she is and let things take place when and where they should. It’s a coming-of-age as much as it is a romance. The characters are incredibly fleshed out, especially Ella and Gavin. This is the kind of romance that feels truly real, not fairy-tale, not perfect, but because it isn’t a perfect fall into place tale, it makes it perfect! Oxymoron, maybe, but boy does it work! If you love princess stories, good writing, great characters, and a story about courage, love, strength, and sacrifice, this is the book for you. I was so surprised and fell in love with Ella’s story. Well done Ms. Larsen. Well done. You’ve got a fan.
This gets a 4.5 out of 5- yes I wasn’t lying when I said it is fantastic!