Review: The Heir and the Spare (Untitled #1) by Emily Albright10:00
Series: Untitled #1
Author: Emily Albright
Published January 18th 2016 by Merit Press
Family can be complicated. Especially when skeletons from the past pop up unexpectedly. For American Evie Gray, finding out her deceased mother had a secret identity, and not one of the caped crusader variety, was quite the surprise. Evie’s mom had a secret life before she was even born, one that involved tiaras.
In this modern day fairytale, Evie is on a path to figure out who her mom really was, while discovering for herself what the future will hold. Charged with her late mother’s letters, Evie embarks on a quest into her past. The first item on the list is to attend Oxford, her mom’s alma mater. There, Evie stumbles upon a real life prince charming, Edmund Stuart the second Prince of England, who is all too happy to be the counterpart to her damsel in distress.
Evie can’t resist her growing attraction to Edmund as they spend more time together trying to unravel the clues her mother left behind. But, when doubts arise as to whether or not Edmund could ever be with an untitled American, what really ends up unraveling is Evie’s heart. When Evie uncovers all the facts about her mom’s former life, she realizes her mom’s past can open doors she never dreamed possible, doors that can help her be with Edmund. But, with everything now unveiled, Evie starts to crack under the pressure of new family responsibilities and the realization that her perfect prince may want her for all the wrong reasons.
I've seen this book called a mash up of The Prince and Me and The Princess Diaries, and I've got to say, that wasn't too far off the mark. In The Heir and the Spare, American Evangeline Gray is set to go to Oxford University, on a sort of scavenger hunt left by her late mother. Since her mother died when she was 6, a letter has reached Evie every year on her birthday, giving her a last connection to her mother. When she starts to receive other ones, urging her to discover more about her family, starting at Oxford, Evie immediately jumps at the opportunity to learn more about her English side. As soon as she arrives in England, she unexpectedly meets Prince Edmund, the second son of the King of England. Helping her discover more of her heritage, Edmund and Evie begin to grow close, very close, and need to consider just how much they are willing to do to be together.
I loved Evie from the off. She's 19 year old, alone in a foreign country, and struggling with her wish to learn more about her mother's life before she eloped with her father, and at the same time not wanting to rock the boat. She never annoyed me, at any part of the book, and I felt a deep connection to her. I could feel her emotions as she felt them herself, and really sympathised with her at all the different twists and turns she faced, either when they had to do with her own family, or her budding relationship with Edmund.
I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say that she's related to someone quite important. She may not be a princess (yet, *wink wink*), but her relatives she discovers do open up a lot of doors for her future, very similar to Mia in The Princess Diaries series. I enjoyed reading her discover her family, as it made me feel as though I was living her life with her.
The romance with Edmund left me with a smile on my face for the majority of the book. Very a la The Prince and Me, she didn't realise who he was when she first arrived, and even when she did, she didn't swoon all over him because of his status. They started out as really good friends, pretty much best friends, who could be themselves around each other. Even when they realised they were growing fond of each other, they needed to think hard about what could come of a relationship, which was especially hard for Evie. Suffice to say, her familial discovery did open doors, but it wasn't only that that made them really give it a go - rather, they realised they cared too much about each other.
I read this book all in the space of about four hours, as it's quite a shortish book - 288 pages - and it was hard to put it down, even to get food. I was drawn into the story from the offset, and couldn't get enough of falling in love with Evie and Edmund falling in love. The only drawback I could have with the book is that it ended a bit too suddenly for my liking, but no that there's a companion book in the works, from the PoV of Preston, Edmund's bestie (who was a hoot to read), I'm hoping to find out a lot more about Evie and Edmund, maybe with some wedding bells in the future. I would definitely recommend The Heir and the Spare, especially to lovers of YA/NA contemporary, and royalty. A perfect debut from Albright.