Title: Just Ella
Author: Annette K. Larsen
Author: Annette K. Larsen
Release Date: August 14, 2013
Pages: 300, ebook
Goodreads Rating: 4.42 stars
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
My Content Rating: PG-13 (No more than kissing)
- Not the most unique plot. Okay, let's face it, we've all read a book or seen a movie like this before - there's a princess who just isn't happy being all royal and boring. She wants something more from life. And she finds it when she falls in love with a handsome young commoner - someone she can never be with. It should be boring, right? Except that Larsen somehow manages to make it compelling! How? Well, keep reading...
What I LOVED:
- Ella. I absolutely adored Princess Ariella and thought that Larsen made her an incredibly sympathetic character. While there is a sense that Ariella wants more adventure, she doesn't just come off as a bored, pampered princess. Ariella is a character who wants more from her life - she wants it to mean something. And, while she'd love a little more excitement, what she really wants are true connections with people. It is this craving that drives her character. Ella is intelligent and can be incredibly strong (and sometimes strong-willed), but definitely has moments of weakness and (realistically) can't always get herself out of any bad situation. She has a strong moral compass, but she doesn't always feel in control enough of her own life and circumstances to do what is right - she is far from a perfect cardboard heroine, which made me love her all the more!
- Gavin and the romance. Gavin is a perfect swoon-worthy romantic pairing for Ella. He is everything that she needs - practical and yet romantic; fiercely protective, but not in a way that makes Ella seem helpless. He encourages Ella and reminds her that she is not a spectator in her own life. I love that the pair start out as friends and the romance builds slowly. We are able to witness the bond forming between these two and it feels authentic. I also love that you are never quite sure what will happen with Ella and Gavin's romance. They are, after all, in a very tenuous situation and it just gets worse and worse as the book goes on. You start out thinking, "Surely they will end up together - this is a romance!" But then, at certain points in the story you find yourself wondering... and then getting really worried... and then hoping... and then being almost certain that they won't end up together... and then feeling like they will make their way back to each other... and then - well, you get the idea. You're never quite sure how this romance will end. I found myself crying several times throughout the book when Ella was heartbroken over Gavin - Larsen did a beautiful job of making us truly care about these characters and what they were going through.
- Ella's other relationships. Ella's other relationships were also really well-developed. I loved that Larsen really put thought into Ella's relationship with her mother, her father, each of her sisters and with Prince Jeshua (who wants to marry her). These are all complex relationships (especially with her mother and father) and they are each given weight and meaning, affecting Ella's thoughts and actions. Plus, as Princess Ariella, she forms a bond with the people of her kingdom (including with her servants), which is developed throughout the book. It is the complexity of all of Ella's relationships (both romantically and not) that really make this book shine and cause a plot that could feel overdone to come to life!
If you love a fairy tale romance, then Just Ella is the perfect book for you! The complexity of the characters and the situations that they find themselves in combined with some wonderfully suspenseful scenes make this a book that is both emotional and delightful! I highly recommend it! 4.5/5 stars.
***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***
"By far one of the best romance novels I've ever read. Pulls you in with great, likable characters and keeps you going with a sweet and exciting love story--plus a good plot to give it even more substance. Full of those tender moments you want to go back and read again, plus exciting moments, clever humor, and some suspense as well." ~Jana Miller
"Annette Larsen writes a love story that takes time, is complicated, and yet still sweeps you up in the romance (without the cheese, thank you). It's compelling and emotional and sweet and you will love every page." ~Kimi
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