How To Catch A Queen by Alyssa Cole

Wednesday, December 2, 2020


by Alyssa Cole
Series: Runaway Royals #1
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Adult
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: December 1st 2020
Source: ARC received for review
Star Quotient: ★★★★
Kiss Factor: ✷✷✷✷

Alyssa Cole is one of my favorite authors and her Reluctant Royals series sits at the top of my top romance series of all time. Though I was sad to see it end, I was excited when Runaway Royals, a spinoff series, was announced. How to Catch a Queen felt different than the books in the Reluctant Royals, which made it a fresh experience. 

One of Alyssa Cole's strengths lies in her characters. She is incredible at writing nuanced characters that you want to become best friends with. The protagonist in How to Catch a Queen, Shanti, originally made an appearance in the first book of the OG series and let's just say that she wasn't particularly likable. Here we got to see a completely different side of Shanti, which allowed me to get a better understanding of her actions in A Princess in Theory. Shanti has always aspired to become a Queen. She craved responsibilities and she wanted to do good in the world. Marrying Sanyu, she thought, was the key to achieving her dreams. Except that she found herself being isolated from her new husband with no real way be part of any decision-making in the patriarchal Kingdom of Njaza. It's always a wonderful experience for me reading about driven women who don't settle, so I had no trouble championing Shanti. She was an intelligent woman with all these great ideas she wanted to implement. She could have easily given up, but Shanti wasn't a woman who easily backed down. She was someone who was confident being outspoken and numerous times throughout How to Catch a Queen, readers got to observe her put people who mistreated her in their places. Shanti was incredible and I have no doubt fans of Alyssa Cole's characters will cheer for her!

Sanyu, on the other hand, was a little bit harder for me as a character. He wanted nothing to do with the responsibilities of being a King. In fact, he tried to unsuccessfully rebel and escape multiple times. He grappled quite a bit with his lack of interest in wanting to lead his country and the responsibilities dumped on him at birth. We saw him struggle and be easily manipulated by his late father's advisor, who was also his current advisor. I felt for Sanyu, but there were times I did want him to open his eyes to the truth right under his nose. He did eventually show some backbone and I thought his private scenes with Shanti showed a side of him that I enjoyed much more than his public persona. Given that he grew up in a low-key misogynistic environment - women didn't have a strong place in his Njaza and his father, the King, was constantly swapping wives for reasons - he had a lot of unlearning to do. It was done very realistically and his arc was satisfying. 

Shanti and Sanyu as a couple also had a lot of work to do. They were pushed into this marriage-of-convenience and their circumstances meant that there weren't many opportunites for them to intimately get to know each other in the beginning. There was an undeniable connection between the two, but I did feel like the romantic element took a backseat to each of their individual arcs. I was personally still satisfied and it especially brought me joy to read the scenes of them cooperating, having conversations, and eventually falling in love in the process. I also wanted to take a minute to mention the world-building in How to Catch a Queen. It's rare to get world-building in a contemporary romance, but because Alyssa Cole has set this spinoff in a fictitious Kingdom it has provided her the opportunity to showcase yet another talented side of her. The politics, though frustrating, were intricate and seamlessly incorporated into the story. Honestly, Alyssa Cole is a genius and I can't enough of her writing! Fans of the Reluctant Royals will also be pleased to see the cameos from the main characters of that series. The group chats, in particular, were so funny!

I've said this before, but I don't normally enjoy royalty romances. Alyssa Cole is the exception to that. How to Catch a Queen was such a good read. I'm excited to see who the other couples will be in the series. Bring them on! 

Let's chat!

Have you read the Reluctant Royals series? What are some contemporary novels with good world-building?
Let me know in the comments below!

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