Honey-sweet, quintessential romantic fantasy with a dash of adventure and a magic cherry on top.
Even though I write fantasy, romantic fantasy isn’t my usual pleasure-read. Normally my taste is a little more… adrenaline-junkie.
But when my friend Laurie told me the premise of her debut novel, Common, I knew I’d like it regardless. And because I enjoy the occasional jaunt outside my normal reading habits, I agreed to read an advance copy of her novel for my endorsement.
I’m so glad I did.
Leah Wellstone is just a chambermaid, but Prince Raphael loves her regardless. But when she discovers a plot against the royal family and reports it without proof, she’s banished for treason. Now she’s the only one who can save Raphael from his new fiancée—if she can get back to him before the assassin does.
- Loveable main character – Leah is adorable, sympathetic, and very relatable. She’s so innocent, yet brave, and despite her precarious relationship with the prince, she always acts with integrity. I love characters like this!
- Enchanting prince – Raphael is the perfect prince charming. I appreciate that we don’t have to hear how rock-hard his abs are all the time, but we’re attracted to him because of the way he treats Leah and his desire to right the wrongs in his father’s kingdom. At least, that means more to me than being steamy (which, let’s be honest, he definitely is anyway).
- Innocence and integrity – I love that the story is squeaky clean—it would be safe for middle schoolers in my opinion. That’s hard to find in the romance genre nowadays! The upstanding nature of the culture also feels realistic for the setting, and it endears the characters to me that much more.
- Everything just makes sense – This seems like a given, but so many books I read nowadays have at least one thing that makes me tilt my head and squint. As a writer myself, I know how difficult it can be to create a world where everything makes sense. In Common, everything happens for a reason and every detail is meaningful, and it makes my OCD self so happy.
- The Luminate – As a Christian, I appreciated and enjoyed the spiritual touches in the storyline (can’t say too much for fear of spoilers). Normally I’m averse to a heavy spiritual arc in a story, because I don’t like to be preached at. But in Common it’s very well done, not offensive in the least (nor would it be to a non-Christian, I think), and essential to the storyline.
- Very well-edited – Plot holes? None I stumbled into. Typos? Nope. Awkward phrasing? None. Anything editing related that pulled me out of the story? Nuh uh. Seriously, whoever edited this book did a flawless job, at least in my opinion—and I can be really picky about these things.
- Very well-written – The language is immersive and mature, yet clean. The analogies sucked me into the world like a Dyson on steroids, and there was no repetition or any phrasing that made me cringe. The author doesn’t feel like a debut. Her career is going places!
- Casual start & relaxed pace – Don’t expect adrenaline and magic from the get-go; the story has a relaxed pace and takes a little bit of time to ramp up the tension. But some things are worth waiting for! Even though it has a slower-than-I-normally-prefer pace, the suspense builds steadily in a realistic, enjoyable fashion that works perfectly for this story. This is just my personal preference, so I don’t count it as a strike against the novel. A slow start is perfectly acceptable for a romance, and the author does it well.
- The title – There is nothing common about Common. Well, OK, I get that it’s a statement about the main character’s social status in contrast to Prince Raphael. But there’s this nagging feeling inside me that such an excellent book shouldn’t be referred to as “common.” Maybe I’m weird. Just my two cents. 🙂
Common deserves every point on each of its sparkling five stars. I truly loved it, regardless of the fact that it’s a lot more romance-heavy than I normally read. The book taught me a lesson about expanding my boundaries, and that a great story is simply a great story, and can be thoroughly enjoyed regardless of whether or not it’s squarely set in your favorite genre. I feel silly for ever being so picky!
If you’re looking for a relaxing, heartwarming story you can dive into head-first, I highly recommend that you grab a copy of Common as soon as it’s released in early 2018. Snuggle up with it on the couch, some fuzzy socks, and chocolate. You won’t regret it!
- Offensive language: Absolutely none. Not even replacement curses or exclamations like “Blast!” Even the strictest parent would have no problem handing this to their kiddo.
- Sexual content: Nothing beyond innocent kisses, although they are done in secret. The storyline does revolve around a forbidden romance, but it’s only questionable because the king and queen want their son, the crown prince, to marry whom they choose (obviously someone of higher standing than the main character, a chambermaid). The language is very mild and the descriptions never go beyond the kiss itself. Think Disney-level smooches.
- Violence: Very mild. There is one magic-oriented fight scene that results in someone’s death, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it ‘violent,’ and it wasn’t gratuitous at all.
Recommended for all audiences 8+, or really, any child young enough to read it. Perfectly safe. Like, The Chronicles of Narnia safe. While I feel like it’s meant for teens and adults, I’m sure any book-loving little girl would love it as well!