If you’ve read Heart of a Royal, you’ll have met Princess Alina. She’s Kenna’s best friend, Thoraben’s sister and the real princess of Peverell. She’s girly, flirty, the kingdom’s darling, engaged to the ever-so-handsome Prince Marcos of Hodenia, and pretty much always gets her way.
To be honest, she kind of annoyed me at times during the story and I had no plans whatsoever to give her her own book.
But then Heart of a Royal’s early readers started asking about her. What happened next? What about Alina? What was her story? Which, of course, set my writer’s brain into action. What was Alina’s story? How did she deal with the fact that her mother had died giving birth to her? Was she really as perfect as she seemed? What did she think about her engagement to Prince Marcos? How would the Rebels affect her life?
The more I delved into her character, the more she surprised me. It didn’t take long for me to be totally captivated by her story, her journey and her heart.
Writing in first person means really getting inside a person’s head, and Alina had so much more going on in there than I’d given her credit for. It was as if she was two distinct people – the image she showed the world and the girl inside. Underneath all the smiles and the perfectly controlled image she portrayed, she was fighting anxiety, the continual need to be good enough, and the devastating certainty that she never would be.
I’ve struggled with anxiety since my late teens but have several friends who’ve fought it their whole lives. You wouldn’t know it to look at them. They’re adults now and taking on kids and jobs and university and smiling their way through it, but it’s there. Under the surface. Threatening to take them down any moment. The world might not know how courageous they are, getting out of bed to face the world each day, but I do. And I love them for it.
Heart of a Princess was inspired by them and their incredible courage. Yes, it’s a romance (oh boy, is it a romance!), yes, it’s a story of friendship and faith, but it’s also very much the story of one woman’s fight against anxiety and the courage it takes to let people in.
I can’t wait to share it with you all and hope you come to love Alina (and the maybe-not-quite-so-infuriating Joha…!) as much as I do.