Biweekly Book Review: The Princess and the Scoundrel

Star Wars?? Romance?? Star Wars Romance?? Huge if true.

But true it is. All romance in Star Wars is, by its very nature, tragic romance. I cannot think of a single relationship, for main characters, that ends well. But that’s an old song. The real power of this book is the way Beth Revis manages to take a story whose end we already know, and make it feel brand new. Really, this is a staple of the romance genre as a whole. We know it’s going to end well, so it’s not a question of if they will get together, but rather how they will make it work. This principle is applied beautifully in The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis.

The Story

The story begins shortly after the destruction of the second Death Star. Han, Leia, and the rest of the rebellion are celebrating the fall of the Empire. Feeling in a celebratory mood, and not wanting to waste any more time not being with the one they love, Han and Leia decide to get married right there on Endor.

But because they are who they are, putting real life aside to enjoy married life doesn’t come easy to either of them, particularly Leia. She has been going fairly non-stop since Alderaan was destroyed and the idea of slowing down is not one she knows what do to with. For Han’s part, he’s still reeling from the fact that, to him, Cloud City and the destruction of the second Death Star feel like days apart, rather than a year. Both of them are trying to adjust to life after the rebellion, and do so to mixed effect.

Mon Mother, both in an effort to help and also to make sure the efforts of the rebels aren’t totally wasted right away, gifts them with a honeymoon on board the luxury Halcyon cruiser, hoping they can use the opportunity for a diplomatic mission as well. Which of course they do because this is Star Wars and nothing ever goes smoothly in Star Wars.

What Worked For Me

Good Lord the romance.

Not since Lost Stars have we had a romance on this scale. It’s not even just affection, and kissing, or even Star Wars-style fade to black smut (though yes, there is that too). Han and Leia were a couple that I personally had a hard time getting invested in, because there never was a sense of buildup to me. The meeting to the I love you/I know to the next I love you/I know always felt so fast. And then when we next see them in The Force Awakens, the tragedy of losing their son has torn them apart. How, then, could I be asked to get invested in their love story here?

Very easily, it turns out. Because all I need to really invest in a love story is genuine effort to get me into the characters heads.

It is clear, from the word go, that Han and Leia really do love each other, and they are committed to making their relationship work. They both want to scale back their own strong tendencies in order to reach a compromise, but find that’s easier said than done. Han does best on his own, and communication is really not his strong suit. Leia is so used to work work work all the time that she doesn’t know what it means to pull back. Both of them are deeply traumatized by the war and the effect it has had on them.

But through it all, there is the firm assertion that they are in it for the other one. They want to do right by their spouse, and try their hardest to make it work. They laugh, they tease, they fight, but you never get the sense that they’re getting ready to cut and run.

Also with the sheer amount of…ahem…cuddling, it really doesn’t shock me that Ben Solo was a souvenir of their honeymoon, if you catch my not-at-all-subtle drift.

On the political side, I loved how Revis dives into the fact that just because the Death Star blew up doesn’t mean the entire galaxy is suddenly willing to accept that Palpatine is dead and the rebels were right all along. I think now more than ever we see how much people want to believe a comforting lie rather than an uncomfortable truth.

It also absolutely tracks that in so large a galaxy, an event reported on the holonews wouldn’t change everything overnight. Of course it wouldn’t. What reason does anyone have to believe that Palpatine is really dead, except the word of the rebels, who up until two days ago were the enemy, and terrorists besides. This aspect, more than any other, is the part of the New Republic Era I find most fascinating.

Also, small point but we have a Key Dameron appearance! And a Shara Bey mention! And a reference to their little boy! The whole “Poe Dameron and Ben Solo went to each others birthday parties in the early days” theory continues to burn strong.

What I Wanted More Of

The mission the two of them end up on, aka the requisite “Star Wars” part of this book, I feel, is what stops me from calling this a full on romance as opposed to a Star Wars romance. I understand readers are here for the stars, and the wars, and to Revis’s credit, it’s still very interesting. We get to see Han and Leia problem solve together and the conflict does play into the two aspects I loved about the book.

But because we have the requisite pew pew distracting from the rest of it, that stops it, in my mind, from being a straight up romance novel. Then again, I would have happily read all about their two day honeymoon on the Halycon complete with a pitstop in Batuu for a Ronto Wrap, with absolutely no conflict but their clashing personalities.

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