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Book review: 'A Farewell to Charms' ends magical 3-book Princess for Hire series

By Brooke Porter

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Aug. 4 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

"A FAREWELL TO CHARMS," by Lindsey Leavitt, Disney-Hyperion, $16.99, 288 pages (f) (ages 10 and up)

Desi Bascomb isn’t the typical 13-so-close-to-turning-14-year-old girl. Instead of fretting over boys and hairdos, she’s mulling over her next job as a Princess Sub — picking locks, attending royal weddings and “sitting in” while the real princess takes a break from her responsibilities.

Well, she does fret over boys — just one in particular.

In the final installment of the Princess for Hire series, author and Utah-native Lindsey Leavitt draws readers in with a fluid storyline, imaginative roller coasters and a plot that’s deep enough to captivate but simple enough to understand. The characters' personalities are all unique and distinct, and their internal commentary is far from boring.

Since advancing to a Level Three in a mere six months, Desi is entitled to some perks, but with her upgrade comes more responsibility. Meredith, Desi’s punctual, bright, sometimes-bossy agent, won’t be necessary anymore. (Well, at least she won’t be helping Desi with their employer knowing.)

Desi leaves her home in Sproutville, Idaho, to travel around the world in her very own bubble. It’s not as smooth as Meredith’s ride, but it’ll do. Upon returning home from these jobs, Façade works its magic, finagling the time as if she never left.

But Façade Agency, the royal-sub employer, has endless amounts of magic — stolen magic.

This teenage spitfire is determined to bring justice to the company and expose its troubling way of acquiring magic — sub-sanitation. Desi’s inquisitive, forthright attitude coupled with young naivety drives her to risk her reputation, her high-paying perfect job and even her life.

But will anyone believe her? Is it even possible to return stolen magic to people who didn't even know they had it? Desi conveniently includes Reed in her plan. He, too, is a secret royal substitute and pretty handsome to boot.

With her new promotion, Desi is eligible for “The Match,” full-time substitution for only one princess from now on — Hollywood star Floressa Chase. However, amidst the "glamorous" life of princess substitution, Desi still experiences royal family drama and a bossy princess who wants Desi to take blame for ruining a wedding.

Unfortunately, Desi still can’t confide in her best friend Kaylee or her parents about her “Magic Potential,” or “MP,” which landed her this job in the first place. Her MP is the ability to feel extreme empathy for the princess she is substituting for, making her exceptionally believable and a great asset for Floressa Chase.

Leavitt says she loathed the color pink and anything sparkly her whole life — that is until she had three daughters. This series is an excellent read for women of all ages and an ideal book to enjoy at bedtime with the kids. “A Farewell to Charms” holds true to Disney’s legacy of an adventurous story chock full of twists and turns and even a little love.

Brooke Porter is a California native turned Oklahoma-adoptee. She writes about everything and anything. Email: bporter@deseretdigital.com

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