Given how much I enjoyed Cole’s Reluctant Royals series (especially A Duke by Default), it’s absurd that it took me this long to finally read How to Catch a Queen, but I’m so happy I finally read it! If you love royal romance, fantastic characters, and of course, some spice, then Cole’s Runaway Royals series is definitely a series you should add to your list.
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.
The story follows Sanyu, the newly-crowned king of Njaza, and Shanti, the Thesolonian-born bride he is matched with. Sanyu has spent years learning what it really means to be a king, a man, and a husband—or at least his father, the late king’s, and his father’s senior advisor’s, ideas of what those roles are. Spoiler alert: it’s toxic masculinity. Shanti, on the other hand, has spent her whole life preparing to be queen, but not for the money, the glamour, or the power, but rather, for the meaningful impact it would allow her to have on peoples’ lives.
I really enjoyed this story and felt that it was so much more than your average royal, arranged marriage romance (not that there’s anything wrong with those, I love those tropes). Shanti and Sanyu’s dynamic was so interesting to read and I felt so invested in the two of them, especially watching them open up to each other (and tell each other “I teamwork you”). I also loved that the series tied in with Reluctant Royals and I loved the interactions with all of the characters—especially Sanyu’s with the “Relaxing LoFi Royal Beats” group chat.
I was a bit let down by the last portion of the book. Right as I felt the story was hitting its stride, I feel like the pacing went a bit haywire and then the conclusion felt so rushed. That being said, that epilogue is one of the sweetest I’ve read. Overall, such a sweet story and one I recommend!
I received a gifted copy of this book from the publisher. This has not impacted or influenced my review or opinions.
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