Book Review || The Princess Spy

I've had Melanie Dickerson's novels on my to-read list for years.  I've petted and crooned over her covers and the fairytale like synopsis of books I haven't yet bought (someone please buy me The Merchant's Daughter or The Healer's Apprentice. kidding of course. if you actually buy me anything, I'll cry and pledge life long loyalty to you).
So, perhaps the review that is coming is...biased? For so many years I have looked towards Ms. Dickerson's novels with eyes that gave them a golden halo. 
I had so many great expectations (they weren't even expectations. they were assumed facts) for her books and...
ok I was a bit disappointed. 
never put something on a pedestal kids. often times you'll be disappointed. 

The Synopsis: 
Margaretha has always been a romantic, and she hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha—one of the few who speaks his language—understands the wild story.
Unable to pass his message on to her father, the duke, Margaretha convinces herself “Lord Colin” is just an addled stranger. But when Colin asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment for retrieving a lost heirloom, Margaretha discovers that she might be very wrong about both Colin and her potential betrothed.

The Review: 

Dickerson has a clear and clean writing style that is to be much appreciated. Her writing flows well, and her characters sweet.  but they were just sweet.  If you were to ask me what the model face and attitude for a historical (or fantasy) novel's  hero would be, I would say, "black hair, tall but well formed, perhaps a bit slim all the same, blue eyes. he'd be a bit, or a lot, tortured, wrestling with demons and convinced he is a bad man while actually having a heart of gold". and it's easy to see why this model character type has found a place in so many author's hearts (including my own...I am not blameless in writing characters like that myself).  he's fun to write, let's us get away with a bad boy while still having a good boy and, he's downright gorgeous. but it doesn't change the fact that he's also a cliche. 
and the picture of Colin le Wyse. Colin was charming, but I had a hard time taking him seriously as he was such a terrible cliche, and I often forgot he was twenty, my mind insisted that he was closer to seventeen.  
And if only he was the only cliche riddled character. 
Margaretha, Lord Claybrook, both were hard for me to love or hate since I kept seeing them as the face of their character type's cliche. 
In fact, I was more intrigued by Margaretha's mother ("I wasn't always a sheltered duchess"? I need to know more about that and her story) or Margaretha's brother, Valten (I really connect with truly pessimistic characters. I would have loved a story between Valten and Gisela).  
while Margaretha was a bit cliche, I did enjoy her character. I felt as if she behaved younger than she could have, but her personality was fun.

There was also a lot of telling instead of showing through out the book. and often times, the emotions displayed by the characters felt half hashed. I think 80% of every in look to Colin's thoughts were telling us how bad he wanted to kiss Margaretha, instead of at least showing us.   The romance felt dry, therefore, because of it, and even their kiss scenes felt, to me the reader, rather passionless. 

The setting felt sparse.  At first, I was excited to read a novel set in early Germany, but it ended up becoming clear that while the setting did play a semi-important part in the novel, it didn't seem too important. aside from some interjected German phrases (that were rarely translated for us) and cities and people with German names, this could have easily been a novel set in England. The setting was there, but the culture was not. 

And was Ms. Dickerson going for a Princess and the Frog sort of retelling? I hope not because...that was a great fail if she was. 

in summary, The a Princess Spy was sweet. it was fun. and it was entertaining. but it fell short of my expectations. More than half the novel seemed to just involved Colin and Margaretha just walking.  It wasn't too boring, as it had what little there was of the romantic development to spice it up (and by 'romantic development', I mean, Colin wanting to kiss Margaretha every time he looked at her, which was, again, telling us  that he was falling in love and not showing us how much he loved her). 

you know that feeling when you order a soft drink and anticipate the burning bubbly sensation, only to discover that the drink is flat and has more syrup than carbonation and is just flat, sweet liquid? 
that's how I felt with this novel. 
and I'm sorry because I did so look forward to it. 

Oh My Stars: 

Characters and their growth: The characters felt one dimensional, and stereotypical. I couldn't connect to the heroes and the villain was pretty lame. There was no backstory, no real motive, and I don't even remember what he looked like aside from the fact that he liked to wear fancy hats.
Two Stars for Characters and their Development

Plot: It was a bit dull rp towards the middle, but the beginning was interesting, and thankfully the end revived the life of the book. But honestly, I just wasn't kept hooked. it was fun but I could have put it down at any point and not felt the tug to return. 
Three Stars for Plot. 

Content: Very clean. Margaretha's marriage was handled tactfully and the consummation never occurred. her wedding night was discussed, but never in any way that I would disapprove of. God and Christianity was a frequent theme in this book, and the characters pray a few times for safety and guidance. No language.  I would recommend the book to ages 13+. 
Four Stars for Content

 All in all, it was sweet, but nothing worthy of fireworks and a big bang. I read the last page, and felt mildly glad it was behind me and very disappointed by it's lack to hold my love.  That does not in any way mean that I am giving up on Ms. Dickerson, in fact, I'm still going to search for a way to get The Merchant's Daughter, The Captive Maiden, or The Healer's Apprentice into my hands (I've been told those are the best of her novels). 
I'm just sad that The Princess Spy did not meet my expectations. 

I would like to thank Booklook Bloggers for my free e-copy in exchange for an honest review.  

I review for BookLook Bloggers