Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
To say that I’ve been waiting patiently for Kim Karr’s Wannabe Heir is an understatement. I found Kim Karr with her Men of Laguna series (if you haven’t read it, you should… hot, stubborn male heroes). From there, I indulged in her ReWined series. Then, she began writing her Royals series, and I was hooked. From Victoria and Adrien to the Prince Harry look-a-like Maximilian, I’ve been lost in her royals’ stories. Now, Wannabe Heir has landed. This is a second chance romance with a fake husband/forbidden best friend’s sister story.
Princess Elizabeth “Liz” Taylor Laurent finds herself in a bit of a quandary. Her father has amassed a great debt due to gambling, and his solution is promising her to the dastardly Count Godfrey Hawkins. Using his wealth, he attempts to blackmail Liz into marrying him. Under duress, she tells him that she’s already married to Spencer Lexington, Prince of Darkness. Liz and Spencer share a past. He’s the one man she gave her firsts to, and she has never fully moved past him because he left her life without an explanation. Mulling her options, she finds herself gambling in a casino after the offer from the Count as a way to make back the money for her father’s debt. Also, gambling in the casino is Spencer, and he notices her immediately. In fact, we find out that Spencer has never forgotten his time with Liz. However, there are complications from their time together and keeps him at arm’s length…at least until he feels the need to save her from the Count. One of those ways is acting as her husband. Will Spencer save the day and find his HEA with Liz, or is she doomed to become the Countess Hawkins?
I wasn’t sure how to approach this review, to be honest. I think of the three Royals stories, this is my least favorite. And I hate writing that. I had been waiting for this book because I like the intertwined stories of this series of standalones, but something was missing in this story. While I swooned over the first two books, throwing myself into them emotionally, there was a disconnect with this one. I’ve been reflecting on it, and I think these might be some of the reasons:
- The story is solid. If you love a second chance romance with a fake husband/forbidden best friend’s sister plot twist, this will fill your need.
- Spencer and Liz are solid characters. I don’t know that I felt the emotional pull that I’ve felt between the first two couples in this series. I think the issue lies in the complicated networks of characters and connections. Karr provides an explanation of the different islands and people before the story begins, but there were times when I couldn’t remember or found myself confused over the various connections. This makes the story convoluted in moments. Even more, there is a part of me that was discouraged with Spencer’s willingness to give up Liz in their youth. He blames it on “bro code” but it feels as though “bro code” ran out after his friendship with Liz’s brother, Truman, breaks his friendship with Spencer. We find out that he has been pining, to a certain extent, for Liz for a decade, yet he kept his distance. I struggled with this knowledge. If he truly loved her as he suggests, it seems as though nothing should have kept him from her, especially Truman. It seems he could have reasoned more vehemently with Truman. However, this situation is necessary for Karr’s story, so it’s important to suspend our disbelief, I suppose.
- There is something about the narrative of this story. There were times when it felt like there was space between the moments. It didn’t flow like the first two books, and I was bewildered by it. Maybe it was my reading of it. Maybe I placed huge expectations on it because I had loved Washed Up Royal and Would Be King immensely. I’m not sure, but the storytelling, the linear nature of the story, felt broken in places. And I couldn’t’ understand why Spencer’s guardian/nanny from his youth kept his secret identity. It should have been divulged earlier in his life. That was confusing to me, as well.
- The ending is sweet, though. It doesn’t take a genius to know that Spencer and Liz have a happy ending, and the way in which Karr presents it, it makes up for all my misgivings about parts of the story.
Would I recommend this book? Indeed. I think this is a case of the reader wanting more when it wasn’t necessary. You will fall in love with Spencer and Liz even in their stubbornness and self-sabotage. Even though I read this as an ARC for an honest review, and I felt conflicted with certain aspects of Kim Karr’s Wannabe Heir, I couldn’t put it down. As each page passed, I felt compelled to keep going, I worried over Spencer and Liz’s plight, and I needed their reconciliation. That is probably all that is necessary to understand about Kim Karr’s book. You may think it will let you down, but, in the end, it will leave you with a cavity from its sweet ending.
In love and romance,