How to Catch a Queen
Author: Alyssa Cole
What I’m Talking About:
Shanti trained her whole life to become a queen, and while others only saw a frivolous pursuit of a girl looking for wealth and power, Shanti and her parents understood she was meant to help others. Her dreams look to be coming true when she is selected to marry soon-to-be king Sanyu of Njaza; however, she soon discovers that she is a queen in title only, without responsibility and ignored by almost all.
Sanyu grew up in the very large shadow created by his father, Sanyu I first king of Njaza, and royal advisor, Musoke. Fifty years ago, the pair lead the rebellion that freed their tiny nation. Sanyu fears he will never be the ruler he was groomed to be and even considers running away. But he knows he cannot leave his country without a ruler, so he accepts the mail order bride Musoke procures for him, as there is requirement the king must be married.
How to Catch a Queen is the first title in Ms. Cole’s new series, but it is in the same world as her Reluctant Royals series, with several of those characters making appearances. It is standalone, though, so no worries if you aren’t familiar with the earlier titles. The story is one of a marriage of convenience, following the tradition that the Njazan king be married. However, he cannot stay married after a four month trial if the woman is determined not to be the True Queen. Sanyu grew up never knowing his mother, and watching queen after queen leave the castle after only a few months. He also was judged harshly by like-a-second-father Musoke, who constantly criticized Sanyu in order to help him prepare to become king.
As in previous stories by Ms. Cole, How to Catch a Queen is more than just a simple romance; she addresses issues such as gender inequality and anxiety disorder in the narrative. Njazan is built on some pretty outdated principles, and Musoke is clinging on to the old ways. Sanyu suffers from his “not-fear,” which is crippling at times, causing him to act indifferent to the injustices he sees around him. He is also torn because of what he was taught growing up to what he knows in his gut isn’t right. The author does a great job of showing/not telling Sanyu’s anxiety with the way he describes his not-fear and inability to stand up. I enjoyed seeing him realize what Musoke is doing to his country and trying to take a stand. I did have an issue with how easily it seems the antagonist is redeemed, but I’ll assume it happened off page.
I also really enjoyed Shanti… she could be written off as a flake, as a crown-chaser, gold-digger… but she wants to make a difference in the world. She is confident and patient, which helps her eventually develop a relationship with Sanyu. She is also able to communicate effectively her needs, desires, and disappointments, and with Sanyu open to listening, the pair turn their mutual desire into a partnership and eventually love. On the surface, the two main characters could look weak, immature, etc. But through each character’s POV, we see their heart right from the start. Add in the tension created due to the time limit of the marriage trial, and my heart was racing the whole time. Yet, I love how the couple takes time to get to know one another. They are a wonderful match.
In the end, I’m very happy Ms. Cole is continuing with her “royals” world with the Runaway Royals series. Ms. Cole successfully blends a wonderful romance with meaningful narrative through smart storytelling.
My Rating: A- Enjoyed It A Lot
About the Book:
When Shanti Mohapi weds the king of Njaza, her dream of becoming a queen finally comes true. But it’s nothing like she imagined. Shanti and her husband may share an immediate and powerful attraction, but her subjects see her as an outsider, and everything she was taught about being the perfect wife goes disastrously wrong.
A king must rule with an iron fist, and newly crowned King Sanyu was born perfectly fitted for the gauntlet, even if he wishes he weren’t. He agrees to take a wife as is required of him, though he doesn’t expect to actually fall in love. Even more vexing? His beguiling new queen seems to have the answers to his country’s problems—except no one will listen to her.
By day, they lead separate lives. By night, she wears the crown, and he bows to her demands in matters of politics and passion. When turmoil erupts in their kingdom and their marriage, Shanti goes on the run, and Sanyu must learn whether he has what it takes both to lead his people and to catch his queen.
Release Date: December 1, 2020
Series: Runaway Royals #1 (Reluctant Royals #4)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format(s): paperback (384 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source: Netgalley
Amazon (affilate link)
Reviews in the Series:
A Princess In Theory by Alyssa Cole (Reluctant Royals #1) – Audiobook Review
A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole (Reluctant Royals #2)
Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole (Reluctant Royals #2.5)
A Princess on Paper by Alyssa Cole (Reluctant Royals #3)