Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Leddy Harper’s Throne Away is the first book of hers I’ve read. I was drawn to it because it has been some time since I’ve read a royalty romance. Even more, the blurb promised a different take on it. It includes a single dad trope, and it sounded like a challenge to embrace.
Thone Away has some great qualities. Harper invests us in her characters with their trials. Ryan is a single father; his wife is manipulative and, quite frankly, a con-artist. He sacrifices his comforts for his daughter, showcasing a portion of his heroic nature. However, there is something almost effeminate in Ryan’s characterization. I’m used to reading romance heroes who take charge and know themselves. Harper hasn’t crafted Ryan in that manner. He is most dominant in the bedroom, but those moments are few in this story. What happens as a reader is you feel as though you want Ryan to act more stalwart. He makes a decision about his wife that seems confusing and anemic. He simply accepts their situation instead of deciding better for himself and his daughter. Even in his dealings with Moira, he reads as confused, a bit dorky, and too accepting of a situation instead of acting heroically to protect and claim Moira. Thankfully, Harper utilizes the character of Libby (Elizabeth), Moira’s cousin, to remedy the disconnect between Ryan and Moira. That being said, Ryan finds himself eventually, and Moira and Ryan’s journey at the end of the book is the best part of the story.
Now, Moira’s characterization is also problematic. Like Ryan, she is too accepting of her situation. She doesn’t want to be queen. She makes that clear from the start of the story, and there are plenty of people who decline to take the throne. Yet, Moira doesn’t decline out of some obligation to her parents. However, her relationship with her parents doesn’t speak to readily accepting her position. She vacillates between choosing her own future and choosing the one set before her. It takes most of the story for her to reach her decision, but it is only due to her cousin (again) that the story finds its appropriate resolution. I questioned Moira’s ready acceptance because it seemed counter to her characterization.
What I believe Harper does well with this story is show Moira and Ryan’s eventual evolution. Both of them appear to easily accept their circumstances without pushing back for the first two-thirds of the story. When they finally realize the power of their coupling, Harper allows them to make decisions for themselves. Until that moment, however, their journey is puzzling.
Even more, Elizabeth “Libby” is probably the best character in this story, and she needs her own book. This is someone who doesn’t wait for life to happen to her. Instead, she knows her value and the value of the people who surround her, and she asserts herself to bring about the happy endings of this story. I would have loved for Moira to have this same joie de vivre. It would have made her more heroic, I think.
Has Leddy Harper written a spin on the royal romance in Throne Away? Yes. For one, the royal is the heroine, and the hero is your “Average Joe.” Is there a moment when it’s possible these two won’t end up together? Yes. It is only through the machinations of Moira’s cousin that Ryan and Moira can find their happy ending. And that ending is quite sweet. The most heroic character in this story isn’t Ryan and Moira, and I’m hoping Harper grants her the book she deserves because Throne Away gave us a little glimpse of her power and potential for her own happy ending.
In love and romance,