Once A Princess
by Sherwood Smith, fantasy (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-048-6

Before I start, let me say this: I hope you have not read the publisher blurb for this book. Okay, the first paragraph is fine to read, but you really shouldn't read the second paragraph. While the second paragraph isn't a spoiler, it has me wondering when a character mentioned in that paragraph is going to show up as the story is coming close to an end and he is still a no-show. As I am wondering, a light bulb goes off in my head. When the twist is revealed, therefore, I am not as surprised as I should be. My fun of reading this book is lessened a little thanks to that annoying second paragraph of the blurb, so I hope you'll err on the side of caution and just skip the blurb completely.

Now, the story. Sasharia Zhavalieshin may be living in LA at the start of Sherwood Smith's Once A Princess but she is, literally, a princess of another world. It's a long story. To keep things simple, let's just say that her mother Sun once crossed a World Gate portal to another world Sartorias-deles in order to hook up with the Prince of the kingdom of Khanerenth. Khanerenth has since undergone a change of management, so to speak. Sasha's father is MIA. Sasha and her mother seek refuge in Earth with Sasha growing up to become a waitress and wondering what happened to her father.

She gets a chance to seek out answers and more when a bunch of ragtag resistance against the current usurper, Canardan Merindar, trick Sasha into crossing the World Portal back to Khanerenth. Figuring out what they want with her is only part of the fun as Sasha will embark on a fun seafaring and swashbuckling adventure to remember. Meanwhile, her mother is not going to just sit back as her daughter runs off to Khanerenth so watch out, Khanerenth, the Zavalieshin women are coming home at last...

Once A Princess is more of a romantic fantasy than a paranormal romance and while there is some definitely adult lusting here, it's not explicit enough to warrant throwing a lock over this thing to keep the teenagers in the house from getting an eyeful of naked limb antics. What this is, however, is lots and lots and lots of fun. The heroine is a spunky and memorable lead character and her mother is an amusing scene-stealing character in her own right. The story also has plenty of surprises for our heroine and I've had fun following Sasha and Sun on their respective adventures. There is also a more adorable and rakish love interest for Sasha while I'm also quite intrigued by Canardan Merindar. I don't want to say more about this story because the fun is in discovering the twists and turns of the story, so let me just conclude by saying that I've had a really good time visiting Khanerenth.

Ms Smith's story comes together in one most enjoyable energetic fantasy romp and I have a really good time reading this one. Since I don't know what to expect when I start reading this one, Once A Princess turns out to be a most pleasant surprise indeed.

Rating: 88

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