Overall Grade: More than 5 Stars
I want to preface this review with three actions, you the reader, need to take before reading Ashley Jade’s newest Royal Hearts Academy book, Wicked Princess:
- You must, under no circumstances, go into this book with any expectations. None at all. If you’ve read Ashley Jade, then you should trust her ability to bring her characters’ stories to life. If you have never read Ashley Jade’s books before, well, why are you starting with Wicked Princess? You should definitely download it, but you should be binge-reading Cruel Prince and Ruthless Knight before reading Wicked Princess because you won’t understand the genius of these stories unless you’ve read them in succession even though they are truly standalones. So…reminder, no expectations.
- You must read the story from the first page to the last page. You should know this if you’re an Ashley Jade reader. She LOVES to leave surprises from the first page to the last. So…#2, read the entire book from front to back.
- Do not share any details of the story. Don’t do it. You will ruin the reading experience for anyone who has yet to read the book. And…that’s unfair. It’s also mean. Don’t be the Mean Girl of the Ashley Jade fan/GoodReads/FaceBook/BookBub/Amazon spaces. We won’t like that, and we won’t like you.
That being said, here goes…
If you are looking for any spoilery, tidbits of this story in this review. You won’t find them. My lips are sealed. I will absolutely admonish you to run and buy this book immediately. And as I said above, if you have not read the first two books in this series, do not pass Go. Do not college $200 UNTIL you have read the first two books. Again, they are standalones, but they are interconnected. Also, if you have never heard of this series, to acknowledge genre, think YA/NA romance with various tropes spattered throughout it.
For me, Wicked Princess actualizes Ashley Jade’s persistence as a writer. If you’ve been reading romance any length of time, and you’ve read consecutive books from an author, and you’ve read them from the beginning of their publishing experience, then you know that writers evolve. The ones who don’t evolve grow tired, and I imagine readers (at least that is the case with this reader) stop being rabid for their books. You want change; you want variation; and you want fresh as a romance reader. Lord knows, tropes and genres rarely change. However, when a writer, one such as Ashley Jade, keeps pushing her boundaries, keeps wanting more, keeps listening to her intuition about her stories, what you find is a writer who constantly reinvents themselves, and it makes their book list and the romance genre as a whole better for it.
Wicked Princess pushes Ashley Jade’s scope out. That is the big revelation here. She shows her writing chops in her choices for this book. She trusts her instinct about these characters, and she’s unapologetic about it. Just visit her Angry Girls group for that. And she shouldn’t be contrite for her ability to write a story that does many things to you as the reader.
For one, Wicked Princess culls together the history of the Royal Hearts Academy reminding us that there are bigger stories sitting in the background of this series. Secondly, it shows us that Jade writes a book within itself. Yes, she’s brought back history, but she’s also given Bianca’s story to its own space. Cruel Prince, Ruthless Knight, and Wicked Princess are all interconnected. Yet, they are each so different, the only carryover from one to the next is the characters and their stories. Period. As I was reading Wicked Princess, I was astounded at its difference to the other books. It reads as its own space in the series even though its proximity is close. If you don’t see the genius of that, then you do not understand “good” writing. Thirdly, the literary and plot devices of this book illustrate the gravity and depth of Ashley Jade’s writing prowess. I was 40% through this book, and I was compelled to comment out to her about her brilliance. Because this book is a writing treasure. And again, it’s its own book.
If there are any reviews for Ashley Jade’s Wicked Princess lower than a 4 star, then you need to know that they (1) did not finish it (DNF) or (2) went into this book wanting specific plot points to occur. That isn’t fair to this book, this series, or its author. When you enter a series of books, you need to remember that you’ve placed yourself in the hands of a beloved author. You must trust that they will craft the story that their readers need and expect. Ashley Jade’s Wicked Princess is the story you need right now, and it marks a defining moment in Jade’s journey as a writer, in my honest opinion. If you don’t read it (and its predecessors), then you’ve missed your chance to stretch yourself as a romance reader. The feelings this story elicits are bar none.
In love and romance,