Title: Just Ella
Author: Annette K. Larsen
Acquired Via: I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
Release Date: August 14, 2013
A Proper Romance
Ariella was only looking for a distraction, something to break up the monotony of palace life. What she found was a young man willing to overlook her title and show her a new and vibrant way of life. But when her growing feelings for Gavin spiral out of control and clash with the expectations of her station, she will discover that the consequences of her curiosity are far more severe than she’d imagined.
I watched in helpless horror as two guards hauled Gavin to his feet and dragged him from the room. My voice was frozen, unable to protest as another guard took hold of my arm, leading me upstairs. From the confines of my room, I stared into the darkness beyond my window, hoping to catch one more glimpse of Gavin. He was gone, and I wondered if he would have been better off if he had never met me.
I absolutely adore fairy tales and happily ever after stories, so Just Ella was the perfect book to feed my interest. Just Ella is about Princess Ariella, who wants to be more than just a princess in a castle. She was curious about the world outside of the walls and was always trying to sneak away to see how her servants or the common people lived. She reminded me of two Disney princesses: Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Cinderella from her namesake film. I suppose that may have been an intentional reminder as Ariella's name is a portmanteau. Not that it really matters - she prefers "just Ella".
I loved the interactions between Ariella and her family a lot in Just Ella. In a lot of stories about teenage girls, you don't see a lot of positive familial relationships because too much of the story focuses on the romance. Yes, her parents were fairly strict, but it was obvious that they did what they did in order to protect her. Additionally, her quarreling with her sisters was very realistic and never too mean.
Another positive aspect of the novel was the love interest, Gavin. He was always a perfect gentleman and never seemed condescending about it. (It often happens in books that the love interest lies or does other less than noble things for the heroine's "own good". I see that as very condescending.) His feelings read as being very genuine, and I liked his personality.
The one thing that I had a problem with was the fact that Ariella was very naive. Now, I realize that she was a young girl, but there are some instances where she has no idea what's what. For instance, if you're a young girl (especially a princess), you don't want to be running around by yourself in the woods if you've only been outside a few times. Going into the water by yourself when you don't know how to swim - she's all alone - is also a terrible idea. This was just a minor issue, but enough of one that it was noticeable.
Just Ella is a very sweet book and deserves all the hype that it's been receiving lately for being a good, clean read. I enjoyed reading a fairy tale romance that I know will be something that my daughter could read, too. If you enjoy fairy tales and/or clean romances, I recommend Just Ella.
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About Annette K. Larsen
I was born in Utah, but grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona and St. Louis, Missouri, the fifth of seven children. I attended college at Southern Virginia University and Brigham Young University, where I studied English and Theater. I now live in Idaho with my husband and four children.
I have Charlotte Brontë to thank for the courage to write novels. After being bombarded with assigned reading about women who justified abandoning either their families or their principles in the name of love, I had the great fortune of reading Jane Eyre. And that was it: finally a heroine who understood that being moral and making the right choice was hard, and sometimes it hurt, but it was still worth it. After rereading it several years later, I realized that if I wanted more books to exist with the kinds of heroines I admired, then I might as well write a few myself. My books are about women who face hard choices, who face pain and rejection and often have to sacrifice what they want for what is right. The consequences are often difficult or unpleasant, but it the end, doing what’s right will always be worth it.
I believe there is no substitute for good writing or good chocolate. Fortunately, one often leads to the other.
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