After seeing this book floating around online, I finally decided to pick it up, despite my general apprehension about the lack luster description. And honestly, I feel that my apprehension was well founded, as Paper Princess turned out to be nothing more than a piece of angsty, poorly written smut for teens.
From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself. Ella Harper is a survivor-a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone. Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from. Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals. He might be right. Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.
In case it wasn’t evident from my brief introduction above, I was not impressed by this book. The “intrigue” was nothing, the so-called “deceptions” were revealed far too early, the entire thing was pretty poorly written, and the characters were shallow and difficult to connect with. Paper Princess has many of the current teen/YA tropes that I hate, including a cliffhanger, a love triangle, a forbidden love with a stepbrother, a huge baby reveal, etc.; really, its a soap opera in book form, and it didn’t translate well.
Ella Harper, stripper turned millionaire by the death of a father she never met, is an underage wild card who is (understandably) untrusting of Callum and the rest of the Royals. She’s a strong female lead; she is tough and knows how to take care of herself in most situations. But as the book drags on, her high and mighty, angsty attitude becomes repetitive, dull, and utterly frustrating. She’s hot, then she’s cold, especially when it comes to the Royal boys. Speaking of the Royal boys (Gideon, Reed, Easton and the twins), they’re just as shallow and frustrating as Ella, being secretive about stupid things (and seriously, fight club?). Like Ella, the boys are extremely prone to mood swings, going from being generally good people to being full blown assholes (sorry) for absolutely no reason. They openly accept that they’re assholes, but instead of doing anything about it, they shrug it off and keep doing drugs, drinking, sleeping around and being all high and mighty, ruining any pity you may have felt for them over the death of their mother. Really, Watt didn’t pull anything remotely original or intriguing into this story; the characters were so basic it was cringe-worthy.
That being said, it should be no surprise that the plot of this book was equally lacking. Swept up from her horrible life, Ella tumbles into possibly the most bland family “drama” of life. Callum Royal’s wife (and by extension, the mother of all 5 Royal boys) overdosed on sleeping medication, leaving Callum with 5 angry boys who blame him for her death. Callum himself has moved on pretty quickly, to a gorgeous, young girlfriend who seems to have the hots for not only him, but who is also pretty handsy with his boys (ew). The boys, to handle their emotions, have been participating in a (spoiler alert) high-class fight club where angsty teenage millionaires punch away their stress. Why that was such a big secret, I’m still not sure. And the big deception? The Royal boys are secretly sleeping around (shocker … just kidding). Watt reveals too much, too early, and the plot seems to meander without any true purpose, coming to a completely predictable and expected conclusion.
On that note, I think it’s pretty evident by now that the writing quality of this novel was not up to par. Beyond the dismal quality of the plot, the writing style itself was abhorrent. Seriously, the writing quality reminded me of some of the more detailed fan fictions I’ve read online (perhaps that’s where this story started, who knows).
Overall, I was not impressed with this book. The quality of writing was quite poor, the story was not overly engaging, and the characters were hollow shells without any truly relatable experiences or emotions for the reader to connect with. I may pick up the second book in the series, Broken Prince, to see if Watt can redeem herself, but honestly, I’m not hopeful.