Tie-in books are something that I have mixed feelings about, particularly ones that are supposed to be “in-universe” books. I’ve read a handful of titles like these, and most of the time, I find them to be not very good, since a lot of the focus is more on “Shout out! Original source reference! Pander to the fanbase! Pander!”Which is why I was surprised that I liked Ransom My Heart so much. It’s set up to be a tie-in with the last Princess Diaries book (as evidenced by the introduction by Meg Cabot), but it feels like an actual book in its own right. A lot of the shout-outs and references to the main series feel more like “Oh, I see what you did there,” instead of being in big, 72 point font so that the reader can notice it. It works because this is a novel by a teenage girl who uses references she knows from her daily life, so I can excuse the obvious references. (And also, I’ve done it in…well, a lot of my own writing.)The story as a whole is actually enjoyable, as well. I don’t classify myself as a traditional romance fan, so reading this was a different experience for me. Sure, a lot of the story is very predictable and relies heavily on the “Slap slap kiss” trope, but the majority of the main characters are likeable and fun. I enjoyed Finnula and Hugo’s back and forth relationship; I liked Hugo as a main love interest, especially his interactions with some of the other characters; and the plot moves quickly and doesn’t drag. It’s a good book that manages to stand on its own from the main series. (When this was first released, I recommended it to several historical romance fans who had never heard of The Princess Diaries outside of the movies.) A very fun read.