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The Decoy Princess

(Princess #1)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  4,657 ratings  ·  227 reviews
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
Paperback, 356 pages
Published November 29th 2005 by Ace
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Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,657 ratings  ·  227 reviews

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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
Anne Osterlund
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jamie Dacyczyn
2019 reread: yeah, this book is still great fun. Why isn't it better known?? I know 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 fit ...more
Jul 26, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Fluff fantasy fans
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 ...more
Carolyn F.

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.
Elizabeth (Liz)
Mar 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 28, 2011 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Elf M.
Oct 30, 2011 rated it liked it
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
P. Aaron Potter
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Sep 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
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 ...more
M. B.
Mar 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-urban
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
Miss Clark
Oct 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 18, 2008 marked it as to-read
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 ...more
laurel [the 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
Anne Osterlund
Apr 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Gina Gallo
Jan 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Ko Clementson
Sep 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
This book BARELY passed The Bechdel Test (, 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.
Jul 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 04, 2010 rated it liked it
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! ...more
May 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Dec 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars .Good book; if a little predictable
Kathy Kennerley
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
Dawn Cook (aka Kim Harrison) is one of my favorite authors. There was a point in my life when her Truth series (written as Cook) was my favorite fantasy and The Hollows was my favorite urban fantasy. And this was BEFORE I discovered they were one and the same person. Talk about mind blown. In any case, while my tastes have evolved, I’ll still always love her works. This little duology was the only thing I hadn’t yet devoured…

And it was fun. :)

It’s one of those fantasy books that would be a great
Sep 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
3.5 stars. I picked this up in my favorite used book store--twice, having forgotten I already bought it. I keep browsing, looking for an author I love in the fantasy genre without success (though George R.R. Martin might qualify). I'm likely too picky, but I can't help it. This looked promising. The cover gives it a bit of a YA feel, and while I wouldn't consider this YA, it could crossover. There's not really anything explicitly adult, though there's some violence.

I liked that this novel had a
Lora Shouse
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 24, 2015 09:34AM  
Characters 2 35 Oct 29, 2008 01:08PM  

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aka Kim Harrison

Dawn Cook was born on 1966 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. She grew up in the Midwest as the only girl in a family of boys, and is a self-proclaimed "former tomboy". She grew up reading science fiction and fairytales. She discovered her talent for writing at the age of 15, when she began writing down the stories that she conceived. Despite her love of writing, she took an unorthodox app

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Princess (2 books)
  • Princess at Sea (Princess, #2)

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“See Pitch over there?" he asked, pointing with his chin. "Try to get her to come to you."

Pitch had wandered from the other horses, trying to get at the hay in the wagon’s bed. My eyebrows rose, giving him a pained look. "You mean, here, horsy, horsy, horsy..."

He gave me a severe look, but his eyes were glittering in a repressed amusement.”
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