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The Decoy Princess

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Author: Dawn Cook

Published: November 29th 2005 by Ace

Format: Paperback , 356 pages

Isbn: 9780441013555

Language: English


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Princess Contessa of Costenopolie knows everything a royal should about diplomacy, self-defense, politics... and shopping. She ought to. She had every reason to believe that she was groomed to rule. But her next lesson is in betrayal... The sudden arrival of her betrothed, a prince from the kingdom of Misdev, has forced Tess's parents to come clean: She's no princess. Their Princess Contessa of Costenopolie knows everything a royal should about diplomacy, self-defense, politics... and shopping. She ought to. She had every reason to believe that she was groomed to rule. But her next lesson is in betrayal... The sudden arrival of her betrothed, a prince from the kingdom of Misdev, has forced Tess's parents to come clean: She's no princess. Their real daughter was raised in a nunnery for fear of assassins. Tess is nothing but a beggar's child bought off the streets as an infant and reared as a decoy. So what's a royal highness to do when she discovers she's a royal target? Ditch the Misdev soldiers occupying the palace, use magical abilities she didn't even know she had, restore the real princess to the throne, and save her own neck. But first, Tess has to deal with the scoundrel who's urging her to run away from it all, and the Misdev captain who's determined to thwart her plans...

30 review for The Decoy Princess

  1. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I'm really not sure what annoyed me more about this book. Well I had a list of things but everything seems so vague now. Evidently the biggest flaw is how boring it was. No no I remember! It's the girl. The girl is the most annoying part. She's very idiotic. And yet also very turned on. By men. If she mentioned how big Jeck's shoulders were one more time. Like I do not need to be reminded of that shit. I got it. Oh but here we go about how broad his scarred up back is...well oh gee golly get you I'm really not sure what annoyed me more about this book. Well I had a list of things but everything seems so vague now. Evidently the biggest flaw is how boring it was. No no I remember! It's the girl. The girl is the most annoying part. She's very idiotic. And yet also very turned on. By men. If she mentioned how big Jeck's shoulders were one more time. Like I do not need to be reminded of that shit. I got it. Oh but here we go about how broad his scarred up back is...well oh gee golly get your skirts up girl and just launch yourself at him. That would be better than pretending to be this great warrior princess with throwing darts and all this hidden agenda training. She puts her darts in her bun guys, and let me tell you, she loves the idea of it. If the words "checking my top knot for my darts" were mentioned one more flipping time. I mean one more time. I would have burnt this sucker. I could see myself liking this when I was 13, because of the cheese factor. But not now. I am older and wiser and see through that romantic crap. Give me a good story with an intelligent protagonist and a worthwhile plot. That is all I require. Oh and a love story, but a complex one :D

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anne Osterlund

    Tess is not a princess. She was brought up as one, but sadly the secret is out. She is a decoy, raised to die in the real princess’s place. However, Tess isn’t easily killed, as a variety of assassins have learned over the years. She is, in fact, highly skilled at throwing poison darts. But it will take more than that to defeat her former intended and his Misdev soldiers suddenly occupying the palace. As well a certain maddeningly unshakable captain bent on hunting her down. The Decoy Princess is a Tess is not a princess. She was brought up as one, but sadly the secret is out. She is a decoy, raised to die in the real princess’s place. However, Tess isn’t easily killed, as a variety of assassins have learned over the years. She is, in fact, highly skilled at throwing poison darts. But it will take more than that to defeat her former intended and his Misdev soldiers suddenly occupying the palace. As well a certain maddeningly unshakable captain bent on hunting her down. The Decoy Princess is a lightning fast read with a gutsy heroine and enough action to keep you chasing it all the way through the sequel. HIGHLY recommended. Enjoy!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn F.

    Audiobook Young adult-ish. A woman/girl finds out she's not really the daughter she thought she was. She's young enough that she fantasizes about every cute guy she meets. She experiences a really traumatic event and then has to figure out what she's going to do now. The player stuff seemed unbelievable. Otherwise, good book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    It's rare that I will put a book down without finishing it, and I hacked my way through three-quarters of the novel before I dropped this one, but by that point I was only reading to see if she got together with The Guy (I skipped ahead - that storyline gets dropped almost altogether.) The prose is clunky and overblown, with every single hand gesture being described in vivid detail as if we are watching a movie instead of reading a book. Her curls, for example, are described again, and again, an It's rare that I will put a book down without finishing it, and I hacked my way through three-quarters of the novel before I dropped this one, but by that point I was only reading to see if she got together with The Guy (I skipped ahead - that storyline gets dropped almost altogether.) The prose is clunky and overblown, with every single hand gesture being described in vivid detail as if we are watching a movie instead of reading a book. Her curls, for example, are described again, and again, and again. Every man has the habit of rubbing his beard, because we need to be reminded over and over again that they are hairy. Because of all this description, the plot pacing is very, very slow. I started reading because of what I thought was an interesting premise: instead of someone finding out that they are The Chosen One, she starts out thinking she is The Chosen One and finds out she's not. Think of all the interesting places that could go! Think of all the non-traditional paths that could take! The author takes none of them. Instead, her former princess resolves to avenge her "parents" deaths, spends most of her time in the woods like every other fantasy hero, and finds out that she is A Chosen One, but not in the way that she thought she was - see, princesses don't actually have power in this world. There's a hidden conspiracy of people who have all the real power, and she's been taken on as apprentice by one of them, so she's moved on up in the world. She'll use her new-found power to despose the evil invader and put the rightful heir on the throne. Isn't that far more interesting than seeing something fresh and different?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Liz)

    This girl totally rocks. She was trained to be a princess but while she was being trained to be that, she was being trained for something better. I love the strategies and how complicated, how human the characters are.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Hallie

    Three and a half stars. At points, it was nudging a 5, but at others... Very uneven, but had a lot of good stuff in it. (Including the fact that Tess's supposed parents weren't the monsters that the King and Queen in Eilis O'Neal's The False Princess were.) With a lot of tightening-up, this could have been awesome instead of enjoyable.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Princess Contessa of Constantinopolie has a pretty good life. She's an expert shopper, has parents who love her and are good rulers, and is looking forward to her upcoming engagement to Prince Garett of Misdev. So what if a few pesky assassins try to get in her way? She's been well trained to ward them off, she's not worried. Oh but she should be. Prince Garett, not taking the advice of his father arrives in Constantinopolie early, almost six full months before the formal engagement is announced. Princess Contessa of Constantinopolie has a pretty good life. She's an expert shopper, has parents who love her and are good rulers, and is looking forward to her upcoming engagement to Prince Garett of Misdev. So what if a few pesky assassins try to get in her way? She's been well trained to ward them off, she's not worried. Oh but she should be. Prince Garett, not taking the advice of his father arrives in Constantinopolie early, almost six full months before the formal engagement is announced. His untimely arrival forces Tess's parents to come clean: she's not the true princess, but a child bought from the street to pose as the princess and ward off assassin. Things can't get worse for Tess. Or so she thinks. After Garett takes the castle by force and murders her parents. Tess is forced to run for her life, something that's hard to do for a girl who's hardly ever stepped foot outside the city. Only by befriending a cheat and finally finding her old tutor does Tess realize that bigger things are at stake than just the kingdom, lives of many hang in the balance, and she's the only one who can stop the events that could lead her and everyone she loves into utter destruction. I was a little tentative when I first started "The Decoy Princess." The first chapter started out pretty cheesy, the main character being a spoiled brat who ordered her tutor around like he was scum. But slowly Cook drew me in. I soon realized that my first impression of Tess was quite wrong and she blossomed into a likeable and relatable heroine. While I can't classify "The Decoy Princess" a page-turner, I sincerely enjoyed the characters, the world Cook created, and the excitement she produced in me towards the end when I absolutely had to know what was going to happen. Ok, so I lied, it got pretty page-turning towards the end. Cook has a rare talent in that she can take a mystery and make it non-confusing. The pieces really fell into place quite nicely for "The Decoy Princess," yet were in no way predictable. Cook has definitely come up with an original plotline here and her characters are ones definitely worth visiting. I can't wait to read the sequel "Princess at Sea."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I really enjoyed Dawn Cook's Truth Series so was looking forward to reading this one. Honestly it took me quite a while to get into it. I started it multiple times over the period of a month. It just wouldn't hook me and I kept putting it down. I finally had a long car ride and listened to it on audio. Once I made it through the first five or six chapters I really started to enjoy it. It's not a favorite but it had plenty of originality and I immediately started the 2nd book when I finished this I really enjoyed Dawn Cook's Truth Series so was looking forward to reading this one. Honestly it took me quite a while to get into it. I started it multiple times over the period of a month. It just wouldn't hook me and I kept putting it down. I finally had a long car ride and listened to it on audio. Once I made it through the first five or six chapters I really started to enjoy it. It's not a favorite but it had plenty of originality and I immediately started the 2nd book when I finished this one. Content: pretty clean - mild language and a little innuendo

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Dacyczyn

    2019 reread: Ok...so yeah, this book is still great fun. Why isn't it better known? I know why....it was published ten years too early. It was about a decade or so too late for the Robin McKinley/Tamora Pierce era of badass knight ladies, and about a decade too early for the current round of badass assassin ladies. It was published, unfortunately, just before the current explosion of YA fantasy, which I'm going to call the post-Hunger Games era. The only thing really stopping this book from fitt 2019 reread: Ok...so yeah, this book is still great fun. Why isn't it better known? I know why....it was published ten years too early. It was about a decade or so too late for the Robin McKinley/Tamora Pierce era of badass knight ladies, and about a decade too early for the current round of badass assassin ladies. It was published, unfortunately, just before the current explosion of YA fantasy, which I'm going to call the post-Hunger Games era. The only thing really stopping this book from fitting in today is the unfortunate marketing. (Actually, a book with a nearly identical premise and title WAS published in 2011, and got a lot more attention, so there ya go.) The cover doesn't excite people, and the title is too silly sounding in this new era where we want queens, not princesses! If this was re-issued with a new vague-looking cover that was like midnight blue with scrolling silver filigree all over it, that would help. It also needs a new title. All the books these days have titles that are like, "The Something of Something and Something". I thought of this partway through reading this time, and left myself a note here: this book needs to be renamed "A Game of Daggers & Darts". People would see that, with a new cover, in their Goodreads feed and would immediately add it to their "cover appreciation" and "must read now" tags. A Game of Daggers & Darts? Sounds awesome! It's all here: Contessa is a commoner is raised on a remote island with a bunch of nuns. She's beautiful enough to inspire sculptures, but falls in love with another commoner, and thinks her life is settled....but then a well-dressed man arrives one day and tells her that she's actually the crown princess, heir to the throne, and she's been raised in seclusion and secrecy for her own protection against assassins! He's here to take her back to her birthright, the castle, and her royal parents..........BUT WAIT, before your eyes glaze over! *rewinding sound* This girl isn't actually our protagonist! Instead, we have Tess. She's the princess, doted on by the king and queen, raised in privilege, expecting to wed a foreign prince to seal alliances. Until shit (or chu, as they call it in the book) hits the fan and she finds out that she's NOT the princess, but it actually some beggar's child, bought as a baby to be a decoy for the real princess, who was secreted away to be raised by nuns (see above). She's been taught by the king's chancellor to protect herself against assassins who want to kill the princess because of a prophecy, but she's not actually royalty, just a pawn. However, just as she finds this out, chu goes south really fast and she has to flee the city before a pretender to the throne kills her or the captain of his guard hunts her down. Armed with the poisoned darts that the chancellor taught her to use, her hide-and-seek skills, and, uh, her ability to do math, she vows to return for her revenge....Along the way she befriends a charming thief cheat, gets pursued by a man in black, and becomes really really filthy. *waves emphatically* Right?? Right?? Doesn't that sound awesome? Well, I stand by my earlier appreciation for this book. It's so much fun. Is it flawless? Nope. There are a few areas that I think could have been tightened up, hence four instead of five stars. Tropes? Eh, yeah. I mean, she's basically a badass, which has become a trope for sure, BUT SHE STARTED IT. Ok, no she didn't, but she's badass in her own flawed snarky way, dammit. Is there a love triangle? Eh, it's more like a barely acknowledged attraction-triangle. There definitely isn't any insta-love, thank god. Yeah, she notices attractive dudes, but there isn't any of that nonsense of "Oh my god, he's so arrogant and mean to me and I hate him, but his abs are so gorgeous that I'm going to fall in love with him anyway because he's Broken Inside...." I hate that. Those are really the only major tropes that this book kiiiiind of gets into, but I'm cool with it because the rest of it is so entertaining. The writing is fine. Nothing overly amazing, but at least it doesn't suck. A few too many mentions of Tess' messy topknot and every man's facial hair, but....There's no first-person/present-tense or purple prose. The world-building is there just enough to let you know that there is a bigger picture to this place, but it doesn't bog down the plot with info-dumping. Argh, again, this book SHOULD be much-enjoyed by the current crowd of YA fantasy lovers, but it suffers from being published too early and not in a package that appeals among all of the shiny books of today. Maybe we'll get lucky and someday they'll republish it in a new edition, but for now there's only lame mass-market paperback copies available IF you can find them. Get yourself a copy of A Game of Daggers & Darts because it's too entertaining to pass up! My old "review" is still true: 2016 thoughts: A fun fluffy adventure story that I read a bunch of times in college. It can be a bit tropey at times, but I loved it all the same. It's exactly the kind of book I would have written for myself as a teen: a badass princess who spends a fair amount of time sneaking around dark castles and climbing through trees. I'm scared to reread it in my thirties, because I worry that my slightly matured brain won't be as satisfied by this book, especially now that we've seen so many other books with similar plot lines....but we'll see.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elf M.

    I really didn't want to like The Decoy Princess, by Dawn Cook. After all, it follows in the same vein as too many of my own fantasy stories: young woman from a commoner's background thrust into intrigue. Now, my stories frequently involve inappropriate pairings of woman and dragon, and nothing like that happens in this book. When I read the first three chapters, I was disappointed. We, the readers, already know the big revelation coming up: Tess is going to be told that her whole life is a lie, t I really didn't want to like The Decoy Princess, by Dawn Cook. After all, it follows in the same vein as too many of my own fantasy stories: young woman from a commoner's background thrust into intrigue. Now, my stories frequently involve inappropriate pairings of woman and dragon, and nothing like that happens in this book. When I read the first three chapters, I was disappointed. We, the readers, already know the big revelation coming up: Tess is going to be told that her whole life is a lie, that she's not really the princess, that she's been used her whole childhood as a target for assassins while the real princess grew up elsewhere. There are some oddities of Tess's daily routine, such as why, if she's being trained to be a perfect princess, has her mentor instructed in her in such nasty things as knifeplay, bullwhips, and blow darts? But that's not the point of the story. No, that revelation just happens on the same day that the proverbial chu hits the fan, and Tess must somehow rescue her kingdom of Costenopolie from a terrible fate. In some respects, this isn't a great book. Cook has some native religion that might be Christianity (the real princess has been raised by nuns, and one of the characters shouts, "I don't care if it's the Second Coming!") but it's just window dressing. Nobody really cares that much for churchly things. She tries hard with the accents on some characters but overdoes it, telling instead of showing. Oh, and everyone has exactly one expletive, chu, which is a euphemism for "shit." (It was also a disconcerting euphemism for me, since chu is also the Japanese onomotopoeia for "two people cuddling." And yes, there's an onomotopoeia for that.) But when Tess finds herself trapped in the castle, her escape is one of those heart-pounding, breathtaking adventure scenes that few writers really get right. And Cook got it right. Many of the later scenes are as tightly written as the first, and the whole of the story hangs together. The book has the important parts: a little magic, a little suggestion, a lot of adventure, a plucky young girl in trouble who can save the day. Now I have to go find the sequel, Princess At Sea. Which is what drew me to the series in the first place. Yeah, there's a pretty girl on the cover, and the tagline, "Rough Seas. Royal Pain." That's a well-done cover. It didn't sell itself, it sold its predecessor.

  11. 5 out of 5

    P. Aaron Potter

    You ever get the feeling that the author switched horses about halfway through the book? That was the sense I got reading The Decoy Princess. I picked this one up at our favorite local used book store thinking it was a nice crossover for Michele & I: a touch of historic fantasy, a light romance, some action and intrigue... What I got was an oddity. It feels as though Cook started off writing this as an adventure romance, something occuping the same neighborhood as Laura Kinsale's The Shadow and t You ever get the feeling that the author switched horses about halfway through the book? That was the sense I got reading The Decoy Princess. I picked this one up at our favorite local used book store thinking it was a nice crossover for Michele & I: a touch of historic fantasy, a light romance, some action and intrigue... What I got was an oddity. It feels as though Cook started off writing this as an adventure romance, something occuping the same neighborhood as Laura Kinsale's The Shadow and the Star and Betina Krahn's The Book of the Seven Delights. However, somewhere in there, the court intrigues and fantasy worldbuilding started overshadowing the characters' emotional landscapes, turning a romance into a more straightforward fantasy yarn ala' Tigana or A Game of Thrones. A little disorienting, but I think the balance worked, on the whole. Another note of semi-caution: this book is a freight train. I *urge* you to read and absorb the back-cover blurb carefully, because this book takes absolutely no time going from zero-to-sixty, plotwise. I don't think it's too spoileriffic to note that our heroine is established, betrayed, inverted, abandoned, and sent spiraling out of her comfy initial circumstances within the first thirty pages. If you can hang on that long, the pace does slow significantly thereafter, but until it does, it's a rather wild ride. There's some risk that the characters' emotions and motivations might be left behind in all that initial action, but Cook is actually quite deft at indicating a complex emotional state with just a few lines. No lengthy emotional monologues here: just short, economical statements of position. Watch for the first scene with the dog for an early example: if you make it through that going "dang, that was pretty emotional for a throaway incident in five paragraphs," then you'll really enjoy this book. I look forward to the sequel.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Miss Clark

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Read Fall 2011 I just did not enjoy it. It has some great elements, but nothing ever coalesced into an intriguing whole. The action is too fast, jumping right in without any understanding of this world. Which I'll admit sometimes works well, but not here. The main character, Tess, finds out her life has been a lie when it is forced out that she is nothing but a decoy, a bait and switch for enemies of the crown, all because of some ridiculous Red Moon prophecy. She has to cleverly and magically (I Read Fall 2011 I just did not enjoy it. It has some great elements, but nothing ever coalesced into an intriguing whole. The action is too fast, jumping right in without any understanding of this world. Which I'll admit sometimes works well, but not here. The main character, Tess, finds out her life has been a lie when it is forced out that she is nothing but a decoy, a bait and switch for enemies of the crown, all because of some ridiculous Red Moon prophecy. She has to cleverly and magically (I mean that both sarcastically and literally) overcome all her opponents, namely scads of trained soldiers and an unstable nutjob from the neighboring kingdom who would really like this one. And before any of that remotely makes sense, we get dumped into the world of Players and Pieces, Pawns and movers, the real powers in this world, of which Tess is obviously a Vital part. La, I say. I shan't be returning for the sequel. (And I am ignoring the odd tension between Jek and Tess, and Duncan, entirely. It does not qualify for romance.)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kara-karina

    When I had an opportunity to review Kim Harrison writing YA fantasy under a pseudonym Dawn Cook, I knew I had to take it! Marguerite Gavin as a narrator was perfect, creating saucy, vibrant characters and keeping it fun. At first glance, The Decoy Princess reads like a lighthearted, easy YA fantasy book with a spoiled, self-entitled princess as a heroine, but don't be fooled. There is darkness here, a fair amount of bloodshed, and some very difficult choices. Princess Tess is a young, boisterous 2 When I had an opportunity to review Kim Harrison writing YA fantasy under a pseudonym Dawn Cook, I knew I had to take it! Marguerite Gavin as a narrator was perfect, creating saucy, vibrant characters and keeping it fun. At first glance, The Decoy Princess reads like a lighthearted, easy YA fantasy book with a spoiled, self-entitled princess as a heroine, but don't be fooled. There is darkness here, a fair amount of bloodshed, and some very difficult choices. Princess Tess is a young, boisterous 20 year-old, who dreams of meeting and marrying her own prince Charming and ruling their country together happily ever after. She sees nothing strange in her teacher raising her tolerance for poison from a young age and instructing her on how to use poisonous darts and a deadly whip (in case of assassins) among other non-princess skills. Then a potential future husband, prince Garrett, arrives ahead of the schedule, and her parents have no other choice but tell her that she is not an actual princess, - she is her decoy while the real thing grew up in hiding so she won't get assassinated. Since that announcement everything goes wrong. Tess loses her beloved parents, Prince Charming turns into a raving psycho, and his captain relentlessly chases her across the country in the name of some secret devious political machinations. Armed with a few darts, in a company of a charming card cheat, Tess needs to use everything she learned over the years to find her teacher with the real princess, and hopefully save her country from the usurper. Expect sparkling dialogue, secret appreciation of wide, muscly shoulders, nefarious schemes of get rich quick, and some awesome thinking on your feet among an exciting palace takeover. Tess was a great heroine, and I had nothing but admiration for her stubbornness and clever problem solving decisions. Duncan was a total charmer, and I still don't know what to think of wily Jack... I had some issues with hazy explanations of the great conspiracy, but perhaps everything will get clearer in Princess At Sea, - the next book in this series. Enjoyed it, definitely recommended!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    All her life, Princess Contessa of Costenopolie has been raised as a proper princess should, well-versed in fashion, diplomacy, politics, and shopping. However, she's also been trained quite thoroughly in how to protect herself, by Chancellor Kravenlow, who has spent years teaching her how to use various easily-hidden weapons, including venom-laced darts. Tess has never thought much about it, really. Being a princess is a dangerous job, and sometimes a girl has to protect herself. However, every All her life, Princess Contessa of Costenopolie has been raised as a proper princess should, well-versed in fashion, diplomacy, politics, and shopping. However, she's also been trained quite thoroughly in how to protect herself, by Chancellor Kravenlow, who has spent years teaching her how to use various easily-hidden weapons, including venom-laced darts. Tess has never thought much about it, really. Being a princess is a dangerous job, and sometimes a girl has to protect herself. However, every skill Tess has learned still won't prepare her for the tasks at hand when her entire world is turned inside out, and her very identity revealed as a lie. On the eve of an undesired royal betrothal, Tess' parents reveal the truth to her: she's really an orphan, bought off the street as a baby, and raised as a princess in public, all so the real princess could live a life of solitary safety in a far-off nunnery. But now it's time for the real princess to come home and take up her throne, leaving Tess to question her past and future. This, however, is derailed when Prince Garrett of Misdev, her "sister's" betrothed, kills the king and queen of Costenopolie and sends out riders to track down the true princess, thus securing his control of the kingdom. Now it's up to Tess to escape an occupied castle, travel across country, find her "sister" and save the day. Her unlikely allies will include a peasant sculptor, a princess who has never been out in the real world, a con man/card sharp whose trustworthiness is always in question, and Kravenlow, whose secret agenda has finally come to light. Standing against Tess is Captain Jeck of Misdev, a dangerous man whose allegiances aren't what they seem. And as the unlikely heroine discovers that she has been better trained as an assassin than a princess, she'll learn that there's a dangerous game being played, where kingdoms are used as chessboards, and royalty as game pieces. Does Tess have what it takes to be a player, or will she remain a pawn?

  15. 5 out of 5

    M. B.

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I've been reading alot of books lately where the girl is always in need of being saved, while her romantic interests are falling over themselves trying to protect her. That is not the case with this book! Our story begins with a young princess named Tess, eagerly anticipating her wedding day. Your typical princess story. Right? Wrong! She soon learns that while she was raised lovingly by the king and queen, she is only a decoy -- the target of numerous assassination plots in order to safeguard th I've been reading alot of books lately where the girl is always in need of being saved, while her romantic interests are falling over themselves trying to protect her. That is not the case with this book! Our story begins with a young princess named Tess, eagerly anticipating her wedding day. Your typical princess story. Right? Wrong! She soon learns that while she was raised lovingly by the king and queen, she is only a decoy -- the target of numerous assassination plots in order to safeguard the real heir to the throne. From there, things get worse for Tess. Her husband to be turns out to be evil incarnate. Impatient to wait the required 6 months for his wedding day to the princess, he decides to speed things along. First, by murdering the king and queen! And thus begins the adventures of Tess, the decoy princess. Through cunning, intelligence and a little bit of magic, Tess is able to save herself and the entire kingdom from the machinations of an overly ambitious prince. Needless to say, I really enjoyed reading this book. The twist and turns the book took was interesting! And the interaction between the characters was quite fun to read! Tess went from a Princess of the realm to a lowly commoner to a player's apprectice (one who would ultimate be ruling the kingdom). If you looking for a fairy tale packed with a punch, I highly recommend this book!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dorri

    At first I was leary about reading this book. I've loved Dawn Cook's alter ego - Kim Harrison - for some time. She writes delicious urban fantasy. As such, the idea of switching gears for a high fantasy novel seemed odd to me. I wasn't ready. I kept putting it off. I was an idiot. The premise behind The Decoy Princess is the reverse tale of rags to riches. Princess Contessa, Tess to those who know her, is happily living the life of luxury and about to be engaged. It all comes to a screaming halt At first I was leary about reading this book. I've loved Dawn Cook's alter ego - Kim Harrison - for some time. She writes delicious urban fantasy. As such, the idea of switching gears for a high fantasy novel seemed odd to me. I wasn't ready. I kept putting it off. I was an idiot. The premise behind The Decoy Princess is the reverse tale of rags to riches. Princess Contessa, Tess to those who know her, is happily living the life of luxury and about to be engaged. It all comes to a screaming halt when she breaks into her marriage negotiations and learns that she is realy a changling child, bought off the streets to protect the true Crown Princess from being assasinated. It doesn't help that the Misdev Prince who was in negotiations to become her husband learns the truth. This one truth sets off a series of events that force Tess to either give up or survive and live the life she was chosen for by the Chancellor. The life a a Player. I can't tell you more, because to do so would greatly hinder your enjoyment of the story. I've read it once. I know I will love to re-read it for many years to come.

  17. 4 out of 5

    laurel [suspected bibliophile]

    Check your damn top knot one more time for those fucking darts you never use, you little ninny, and I swear. . . Actually I don't swear anything. Because the saddest part is there are more in the series. I'm still shaking my head. Read if you like insipid brats intent on humping anything with testicles and getting praised for being "smart" and "intelligent" even though everything out of her mouth is dumb as hell. Would have been a DNF except I paid $4.95 for the audiobook, it was by Kim Harrison Check your damn top knot one more time for those fucking darts you never use, you little ninny, and I swear. . . Actually I don't swear anything. Because the saddest part is there are more in the series. I'm still shaking my head. Read if you like insipid brats intent on humping anything with testicles and getting praised for being "smart" and "intelligent" even though everything out of her mouth is dumb as hell. Would have been a DNF except I paid $4.95 for the audiobook, it was by Kim Harrison (who I looove, but not so much in her incarnation as Dawn Cook), and I kept hoping it would get better. It. Did. Not. Get. Better. If you still haven't been warned off (view spoiler)[ and I don't know how by this point (hide spoiler)] don't get the audiobook, even if it's on sale. The narrator's voice . . . nope nope nope. Just a whole bucket of nope.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anne Osterlund

    Tess is not a princess. She was brought up as one, but sadly the secret is out. She is a decoy, raised to die in the real princess’s place. However, Tess isn’t easily killed, as a variety of assassins have learned over the years. She is, in fact, highly skilled at throwing poison darts. But it will take more than that to defeat her former intended and his Misdev soldiers suddenly occupying the palace. As well a certain maddeningly unshakable captain bent on hunting her down. The Decoy Princess is a Tess is not a princess. She was brought up as one, but sadly the secret is out. She is a decoy, raised to die in the real princess’s place. However, Tess isn’t easily killed, as a variety of assassins have learned over the years. She is, in fact, highly skilled at throwing poison darts. But it will take more than that to defeat her former intended and his Misdev soldiers suddenly occupying the palace. As well a certain maddeningly unshakable captain bent on hunting her down. The Decoy Princess is a lightning fast read with a gutsy heroine and enough action to keep you chasing it all the way through the sequel. HIGHLY recommended. Enjoy!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gina Gallo

    I love Kim Harrison, and this book shows some of her best skills: a new, complete, believable world; a spunky heroine; and cool heroes. However, I had some issues with it as a whole: (1) for a spunky princess with kick-butt skills-she gets caught A LOT and (2) it seems to be luck most of the time and not her own skills. Tess is amazingly self-absorbed for most of the book and Duncan seems like a doormat to her sometimes. Other than that, the plot is fun and I have a feeling that the second in th I love Kim Harrison, and this book shows some of her best skills: a new, complete, believable world; a spunky heroine; and cool heroes. However, I had some issues with it as a whole: (1) for a spunky princess with kick-butt skills-she gets caught A LOT and (2) it seems to be luck most of the time and not her own skills. Tess is amazingly self-absorbed for most of the book and Duncan seems like a doormat to her sometimes. Other than that, the plot is fun and I have a feeling that the second in the series will be better now that she has "come into her own" in the finale of the first.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ko Clementson

    This book BARELY passed The Bechdel Test (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechdel...), and even then I believe I was over halfway through it before it did even that. I mean, come on! The main character is a woman! I enjoy straightforward, fluff fantasy books and like to have a few on the go to balance out some of the heavier things I am reading. It's not like I have very high expectations for them -- but even so this one really fell flat. This book BARELY passed The Bechdel Test (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechdel...), and even then I believe I was over halfway through it before it did even that. I mean, come on! The main character is a woman! I enjoy straightforward, fluff fantasy books and like to have a few on the go to balance out some of the heavier things I am reading. It's not like I have very high expectations for them -- but even so this one really fell flat.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Banaticus

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was a really fun book to read. Well written, good dialogue, very little deus ex machina, it's a new take on the "prince/princess on the run from the evil person who's trying to murder the royal person and take over the kingdom", in that the main character in this book only (initially) "thinks" that she's the princess.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I LOVED this book. The strong female lead, a love triangle, a kingdom to save, deceit, hidden strength.... and even m agic. What more could I ask for in a book? What made me give it a 5 star was the ongoing romance... Because even at the end of this first book, we didn't know who she'll end up zith. Personally, I'm a HUGE Jeck fan.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    A fun read, but not one of my favorites. Dawn Cook has great characters, and I'm excited to read the second one for more development in their relationships. Tess is a fun mix of girlish princess and assassin. I would have liked her to kick some batooty with her whip, but the darts were fun, too. Can't wait to see more of Jeck!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    I probably shouldn't give this a 5, since I don't actually remember it very well (I read it at a high-stress time, and it didn't get a chance to fully sink in) but I remember I loved it enormously. I mean, a princess who stores darts in her hair and can actually use them? Awesome!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Volpot

    4 stars .Good book; if a little predictable

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Kennerley

    I much prefer Urban Fantasy over Fantasy but since I was starved for a new Kim Harrison/Dawn Cook novel I decided to give this a shot. I loved it! This author is one of the best writers out there.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lora Shouse

    I knew I would like this book! This is a highly original story with a different take on the usual princess thing. Great writing, and tight plotting. Tess has been raised as the princess of Constenopolie. Although she has suffered from a prophecy that predicts possible dire consequences for the wrong person who might try to marry her (causing frequent attempts on her life for some reason), she has had a fairly easy and happy life so far. She has been primarily guarded and trained by the kingdom’s c I knew I would like this book! This is a highly original story with a different take on the usual princess thing. Great writing, and tight plotting. Tess has been raised as the princess of Constenopolie. Although she has suffered from a prophecy that predicts possible dire consequences for the wrong person who might try to marry her (causing frequent attempts on her life for some reason), she has had a fairly easy and happy life so far. She has been primarily guarded and trained by the kingdom’s chancellor, Cavinlo. She thinks her primary skill is shopping, but Cavinlo has taught her many other things too. There has been a project to have her married going on. When her future intended shows up at her parents’ palace months early, Tess tries to get in to have a look at him even though she is not supposed to. When she is discovered, it sets in motion a bad set of events during which her parents first tell her she is not, in fact, their daughter the princess and then Prince Garrett kills them and attempts to imprison her to marry her right away. This is all to fulfill some sort of scheme of his own to seize power and do it early. He rapidly reveals himself to be a psycho, and Tess needs to get out fast. The rest of the story is of Tess’s adventures as she seeks to reunite with Cavinlo, who has been sent to retrieve the real princess, and then return to reclaim the palace and get rid of the horrible Prince Garrett. I agree that I didn’t think too much about the narrator while I was listening to the book, so she must have done a good job.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Karissa

    This is the first book in Cook’s Princess duology. Dawn Cook also writes as Kim Harrison. I enjoyed this fun fantasy adventure novel. The book is very YA in tone and is mostly about the heroine figuring out who she is (both in an actual and more philosophical sense). I listened to this on audiobook and it was decently done. It wasn’t my favorite audiobook because I didn’t like the voice the narrator used for Tess and found it distracting. I never really got used to it. I would recommend reading t This is the first book in Cook’s Princess duology. Dawn Cook also writes as Kim Harrison. I enjoyed this fun fantasy adventure novel. The book is very YA in tone and is mostly about the heroine figuring out who she is (both in an actual and more philosophical sense). I listened to this on audiobook and it was decently done. It wasn’t my favorite audiobook because I didn’t like the voice the narrator used for Tess and found it distracting. I never really got used to it. I would recommend reading this on in paperback rather than listening to it. Tess has been raised as the crown princess of Costenopolie for her whole life (at least as much of her life as she can remember). However when a neighboring kingdom makes a bid for the throne through marriage Tess finds out she’s just a decoy. This leaves Tess reeling. She is fleeing for her life and desperate to do what she can to help her people and kingdom...except they aren’t really her people or her kingdom now...so where does that leave her? Tess is an interesting heroine; she has mad ninja-like skills from her training but is also strangely naive because of her sheltered upbringing in the castle. This gets her into trouble more than once. I really enjoyed our heroine and her struggles with her own identity and purpose in life. They were easy to relate to and fun to read about. There is a lot of action and adventures in this book as well. There is some romance but it is fairly light and not a huge part of the story. Overall I enjoyed this YA fantasy adventure and plan on reading the second book in the series. Tess is a fun heroine and entertaining. I would recommend to those who enjoy YA fantasy adventure “princess” stories.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Annye

    The Decoy Princess starts out very slow, and I struggled to maintain interest, but after the first twist (and you’ll recognize it as soon as you get to it), the book picks up significantly and doesn’t ever really let up. Though the main, surface-level story is great, the teases to an underlying world are intriguing, and the best part of the book. Most of the characters are unashamed tropes, but it works well and it results in some really interesting characterization. In particular, there is a rela The Decoy Princess starts out very slow, and I struggled to maintain interest, but after the first twist (and you’ll recognize it as soon as you get to it), the book picks up significantly and doesn’t ever really let up. Though the main, surface-level story is great, the teases to an underlying world are intriguing, and the best part of the book. Most of the characters are unashamed tropes, but it works well and it results in some really interesting characterization. In particular, there is a relationship between the main character and another woman which feels at the same time tropey and very, very real.

  30. 4 out of 5

    David Phipps

    I've read this before and had a copy plus its sequel still sitting on my shelf. This aptly named fantasy book is about a 20 year old princess who finds out she is actually just a target for assassins while the real princess has been raised in hiding. The decoy princess discovers all this while dealing with intrigue and betrayal that threatens the kingdom. There is a light romantic triangle but it does not overwhelm the story. There is a light magic system too. The only viewpoint in the entire bo I've read this before and had a copy plus its sequel still sitting on my shelf. This aptly named fantasy book is about a 20 year old princess who finds out she is actually just a target for assassins while the real princess has been raised in hiding. The decoy princess discovers all this while dealing with intrigue and betrayal that threatens the kingdom. There is a light romantic triangle but it does not overwhelm the story. There is a light magic system too. The only viewpoint in the entire book is the decoy princess. It has a solid conclusion but it does leave enough hanging for the sequel. This book is OK but like Cook's Truth series I don't like it well enough to keep it on the shelf now that I'm more strict about what I keep.

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