Cover Image: How to Catch a Queen

How to Catch a Queen

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Member Reviews

Excellent, unexpectedly feminist slow-burn romance with a kick ass ambitious queen and a reluctant, nearly runaway king. It's a cross between the romcom vibe of Reluctant Royals and the more serious political tone of Cole's Loyal League historical romance.
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Alyssa Cole has always been one of the writers that makes me want to throw up my hands and despair at ever writing my own books ever again, because I’ll never be as good as her. And she does it while having one of her characters refer to another as “sexy Pikachu.” HOW. None of us will ever be as good as Alyssa Cole. All we can do is absorb everything she writes, grateful for every inch of story she’s willing to produce for us.

I read the Reluctant Royals series last summer with a broken foot that left me stuck in a chair in my living room for six weeks. I tore through all five books in the series and marvelled that they just kept getting better as I went – by the fifth book, Cole had managed to combine all of the hints of things that had been promised in the beginnings of the series into a truly exceptional storyline featuring pretty much everything I could want. And now she’s created a spinoff series, Runaway Royals, and it’s EVEN BETTER. Which isn’t to say you have to read the Reluctant Royals series to read this book – all of the characters who make cameos have their stories deftly and quickly explained – but if you haven’t read them, what are you even doing with your life?

If you have read A Prince On Paper, you’ll recognize Sanyu as the king of Njaza and Shanti as his queen, the couple that Nya and Johan visited briefly on their own journey towards happily ever after. In that brief interlude, we got a hint that things were not quite as they should be within the royal marriage, and I got really excited when I learned they would be the focus of this book. My excitement paid off. Sanyu and Shanti are, separately, absolutely fantastic characters. Cole manages to make the improbable parts of their story seem entirely real by grounding them in real people, with real feelings and real fears. As individuals, they’re compelling; as a couple, they’re absolutely intriguing (and yes: the sex scenes are EXTREMELY GOOD).

We all know there’s nothing I love more than therapy in books. Especially for men! Working on yourself seems like it should be absolutely crucial to having a successful romance arc, and Alyssa Cole knows it. Sanyu is resistant to a LOT of stuff, held prisoner by his childhood, and therapy is one of those things. But his resistance is so carefully written that as a reader, you understand that he needs the therapy, and he’s going to get it eventually. It’s so well done – almost a masterclass in how to write powerful men getting the help they need.

There’s a lot of stuff in here about the complicated way that parenthood intersects with culture, and how we realize as adults that the norms we accepted as children may not in fact be normal. It hits hard, and it’s simultaneously unforgiving and full of grace. The key plot twist is so incredibly central to all of the intertwined storylines here that I can barely talk about any of what I want to talk about except to wax rhapsodic YET AGAIN over how incredibly talented a writer Alyssa Cole is. There is so much STRUCTURE here to be analyzed as a reader and a writer, but it’s all so beautifully bound up in perfectly crafted story, characters, and prose that you don’t even realize it unless you want to think about it. 

Readers with an eye for detail will discover a masterful setup for at least two more books in the series – a quick check on upcoming projects shows me that the second book in the series is a F/F story featuring the absolutely delighful inspector from the improbably monarchical society that runs the royal match dating app that got Shanti and Sanyu together. She was only around for a short few scenes in this book, but she’s such a wonderful chaos agent that she changed the entire direction of Sanyu and Shanti’s lives, and I’m deeply looking forward to her story. I’m hoping that the third will feature his friend the sun prince, briefly mentioned in a few places that are cleverly tied into the story here so we know he exists and has his own interesting backstory.

As usual, I could keep writing about this book until I’d written an entire novel about how good it is. Instead, I’ll just say what I always say: it’s Alyssa Cole. Read it. You’ll love it.
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I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this book and once again Alyssa has done it!! I loved the Reluctant royals series so was equally excited for this spin off series: Runaway Royals.

Alyssa has done an excellent job with portraying Sanyu, a prince turned king after his father's death who is gripped with anxiety and worry about not wanting to be a king. whether he can be a good and not taint his father's legacy. Sanyu has basically been taught his entire life that to be a king he must not show weakness. His inner turmoil is such a great contrast to his exterior as of course people see this tall (6ft 5') opposing looking man and has certain expectations of him and Sanyu takes all this to heart and it adds to his struggle with his "not-fear"

Enter Shanti, who challenges everything Sanyu has known. I truly loved how she didn't let him try to walk all over her and he really tried it! Eventually Sanyu begins to be open to what Shanti has to say and their relationship flourished. Of course they are bumps along the way but Alyssa did a great job of managing that.

I positively adored that Shanti's goal was to be queen so she can make a difference in the world and she does that. I love seeing her and ambition and drive and well let's just say Sanyu begins to appreciate that too ;) (that poor vase lol)

We get cameos from the previous books with Thabiso, Johan, Portia and Ledi etc. Mostly via their respective group chats which was hilarious!! Johan's chat name with a peach emoji next to it was pure perfection.

I will say though, that one thing I wanted to see was Musoke apologizing to Shanti directly. The advisor was terrible to Shanti and while the Sanyu did say that Musoke wasn't the type to apologize, I felt Shanti was at least owed that respect because that man disrespected her left and right! That was my main qualm with how everything was resolved.

And we meet one the MCs for book two (Beznaria) which is supposed to be an f/f Anastasia retelling and !!! I am so excited for that cuz Bez is quiiite the character lol.

Highly rec this book and I'm gonna need netflix or somebody to get on making these books a series or something because I have a neeeed!
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I was in a super picky mood when I started this book. I keep trying to read other books and none were sticking. I knew within the first few pages of this book that I wasn’t going to have that problem. How to Catch a Queen was a total treat. 

I love seeing the journey of the hero from insecure prince to confident king. He is totally swoon worthy and I think my favorite character of the book. The heroine is so interesting. She knew since she was little that she wanted to be a queen and help people. She’s such a strong character. I enjoyed watching their relationship unfold. 

I enjoyed the setting and learning about the history and customs. I look forward to reading more Alyssa Cole books.  


I voluntarily read an early copy. Thank you Avon!
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This book is great. I love the fact that black girls can imagine themselves as princess in far-away lands.  I enjoyed her first series, the Reluctant Royals and this was a good first book in the runaway royals series. It took a while to get into, but I really enjoyed it.
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Alyssa Cole is always a great read and this book was no different. The heroine had a valid struggle and I 100% did not see the ending coming.
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Alyssa Cole has got a new royals series and its a runaway hit! Shanti Mohapi marries the king of Njaza, and becomes queen, but their arranged marriage doesn't go exactly as planned. Shanti and Mjaza have an amazing but her new country still sees her as an outsider, so her and her husband lead separate lives during the day and at night they come together to solve their countries problems and their relationship. 
What I like most about this book is that for me it was unpredictable and the royal angle made it exotic and thrilling. The politics are familiar but still different enough from the current world that it was not as predictable as I thought it was going to be. I really enjoy all Alyssa Cole's book and look forward to the next installment.
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As always, I love the diverse representation in Alyssa Cole's books. I love the positive female friendships and the blossoming romance between a married couple who are still getting to know one another. Having read the Reluctant Royals series, I enjoyed the references to characters from that series and reading this series to follow up with this couple whom we only meet briefly in the last series.
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I wanted to love this book, but I only liked it -- not through any fault of its own, the tropes just didn't quite combine the way I wanted them to. Shanti is an absolutely delightful protagonist and I think anyone who likes a super-competent, take-charge heroine will love her. I wasn't as fond of Sanyu, although I'm very happy to see a Black hero with anxiety getting love and support! He's a hero who needs to grow into treating his heroine right, I think, which is a completely valid trope but be aware of it going in. I was just really looking forward to the curtainfic aspect of Shanti and Sanyu working together to address economic and social ills, and the book didn't quiiiiiiite deliver as much I as was hoping. Still, it's a very enjoyable book, and I think the tropes will work better for others who aren't as picky about curtainfic vibes as I am!
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How to Catch a Queen is yet another example of Alyssa Cole's talent for character building. Just like with every book in the Reluctant Royals series, I am in awe of how she includes such supportive exploration of real problems that everyday people work through while still having plenty of humor and romance throughout the story as well as some underlying mystery. I would recommend reading "A Princess in Theory" before this book as it introduces Shanti, but this is also great as a standalone book.
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Really enjoyed this one! I wouldn't call this a enemies to lovers more like acquaintances to lovers. Thought the story was really good and the characters likeable. Kinda wish there wasn't that miscommunication at the end but this book does devil into toxic masculinity and colonization and deals with it very well. Can't wait for the next one!
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I feel so privileged to have been offered an ARC of this book.  I adore this series and its characters - and basically everything Alyssa Cole writes.  She has a true gift for brining characters to life and allowing them to grow and to shine.  In this book - like all the rest in the series - both Shanti and Sanyu had a lot of growing to do.  

Shanti is a serious power broker - just waiting to find power.  She is focused and driven.  She set the goal of being queen from a young age and has stopped at nothing to achieve it.  Being Queen is an interesting goal - a lot of girls want to be a princess, but Shanti wants to be Queen.  To help people and change the world.  I did questions (like Sanyu) why Queen.  As he said, there are a lot of ways to help people - why Queen.  I don't think Shanti ever really answers.  

Sanyu, despite coming from  royalty, did not have an easy childhood or young adult life.  He is a living breathing bottle of anxiety and self-doubt.  He is also swallowed deeply by grief for a good portion of the book.  He also feels things very deeply - despite being told he couldn't because that wasn't what kings did.  He's struggling with change, grief, and crushing responsibility.  Even with all of that - he takes steps to reach out and get help from Shanti.  

I loved so much about this book - but the one thing that bothered me was the expectation from Shanti that she could walk in the door as Queen with no preamble and immediately be respected and listened to.  Not that as an individual she isn't deserving of respect (Shanti demands no less - and deserves no less).  But as an outsider, it takes time to build that trust and respect.  Granted - they didn't give her much of an option - but she also didn't seem to be interested in trying with Sanyu at first.  She really seemed more interested in using him as a means  to her end.  By the end of the book she had resolved that - but she never really seemed to find her feet in emotionally supporting Sanyu.  She recognized that she had never offered him support in his grief, but it wasn't a true showing.  She also had a right to be angry with Sanyu - she really did - but by leaving him and making him feel abandoned once again - showed me that she still didn't understand his emotional needs.  

Overall, I think this was a great read - and another awesome entry into this series.  I hope that it continues and we get to see a few more.

I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, but these opinions are all my own.
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I am a big fan of Alyssa Cole's Reluctant Royals series, so I was excited to read this first book in her new Runaway Royals series. I confess that as I began this book I was nervous about the power imbalance between the two main characters, but Alyssa Cole went out of her way to portray the Queen as driven and empowered and the King as respectful (possibly to the point of neglect at first!). Once these anxieties were eased I was able to relax into this smart, fun, and sexy romance. I also loved the unexpected mystery aspect of this book (what happened to all the former queens?) as well as the exploration of how traditions (cultural and familial) both serve and fail us in our lives.
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We absolutely loved Alyssa Cole's latest Royal romance. After meeting Shanti in previous entries in her Reluctant Royals series, we were wondering how Cole would redeem her. After all, Shanti is an avowed royal-chaser, someone who just wants to be a queen - and it doesn't matter who the king is, where he lives, or what country he governs. And the truth is, yes, Shanti does want to be a queen - but she wants to be a queen because she sees it as her best way to effect change. (This is something that we might quibble with in real life, but let's be honest: we're reading a romance novel in a new series called "Runaway Royals," so we can suspend a little disbelief in the interests of fun.)

So if Shanti is chasing a royal spouse, who is the "runaway" in the couple? That would be Sanyu. He has been raised from a young age to understand both that he must take over governance and maintain his father's legacy after his father's death, and that he is just not up to the task. His upbringing has left him feeling inadequate, especially since he suffers from stage fright and social anxiety. Can Shanti help him conquer his fears and become the ruler his country needs?

The book is not only a fun read, it also tackles some serious issues. Of course there is Sanyu's social anxiety, but we also see how committed Shanti is to social justice and gender equality, and Cole even manages to weave in post-colonialism and indigenous erasure. Plus, the sex is really hot. 

All in all, highly recommended.
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Wow! Alyssa Cole does it again! She’s one of my favorites and this book totally delivers. It’s the first book in a new series but the characters from the Reluctant Royals series make an appearance. Shanti is an amazing, strong character who has a single-minded focus on changing the world by becoming a queen. Sanyu is a grieving, unwilling king who is grappling with his father’s legacy. Alyssa Cole continues to write complex, believable characters.
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Alyssa Cole can basically do no wrong in my eyes. This is the first entry in a new series, set in the same world as her Reluctant Royals series. In this book, Shanti, a brilliant and badass feminist whose goal in life has been to become a queen so that she can make real change, is tapped to become the first wife of Sanyu, who is about to become king of fictional African nation Njaza, a country that has been extremely isolated since gaining its independence under Sanyu’s father. Shanti’s four month trial period as queen is almost over when her husband finally begins to show an interest in her and her political advice. The road is bumpy for them but this is another satisfying, substantive romance from Alyssa Cole,
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I’m going to start this off by saying Shanti is The Boss! If you had asked me even two weeks ago, I would never have guessed that I would be rooting for a woman whose life goal was to become a queen. Yet, the way Ms. Cole has written her is so inspiring and empathetic. It makes me want to go out there and take over the world!

Sanyu is an interesting mix of big/scary/loud/gruff on the outside and self-doubting, anxious mess on the inside. As you learn about his childhood, how he was raised and the things he experienced, you quickly come to see why. The fact that Shanti always stands her ground with him, never lets him intimidate her, and seems to almost intuitively understand what he needs from her, made it easier for me to see and understand the inner him versus the outer version.

I think my one frustration was how easily Musoke (aka the villain) was subdued. All we ever see from him, and learn about him from Sanyu’s memories, are the moments of verbal & emotional abuse. Yet, Sanyu still loves Musoke and believes that Musoke loves him. A more nuanced view of Musoke, something to show the reader why he would be considered redeemable, would have helped make their reconciliation more believable.

Of course, as a spinoff of the Reluctant Royals series, this novel has cameo appearances by the main characters from all of the Reluctant Royals books. It’s always fun to catch up with familiar faces! And, after hearing both Sanyu and Shanti make references to a Prince Anzam who also likes to shirk his royal duties, I have a feeling the next installment might just feature him in a starring role…
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Alyssa Cole is such a versatile writer, and I was so excited to read another royal romance from her! The heroine of this book, Shanti, was first introduced in the book "A Princess in Theory", but this definitely works on its own. Shanti is such a strong woman and when she enters into an arranged marriage with Sanyu he meets his match. Their relationship changes drastically throughout the book when they fall in love as two people already married. This novel touches on so many issues of family, patriarchy, colonizing, mental health, and so much more and the romance was so sweet, especially watching Sanyu's character growth. I will be recommending this to anyone who likes romance, especially of the royal variety. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Avon for the ARC of this book. I voluntarily read and reviewed this book and all opinions are my own.
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Alyssa Cole gives us another deep dive into the world of the reluctant royals with a new series. The new series entitled "the runaway royals" follows an unlikable character from the first book in the last series "Shanti" (who honestly I did feel sorry for when she was thrown up on in a Princess in Theory". But it doesn't take long for the readers to fall in love with Shanti and realize that her tenacity isn't a character flaw but instead makes her a passionate woman that cares deeply about changing the world. What follows is an amazing marriage of convenience that turns into a passionate affair with "orgasms and politics". 

Cole doesn't lose her trademark humor even with an intense male lead and a tenacious heroine bent on changing the world. And past favorite characters make the most surprising cameos that will have you smiling and laughing. And as with all of Cole's work we also get some tremendous diversity and upending of the patriarchal system. This time we explore polyamorous relationships and I loved it! I was honestly a little upset that Shanti and Sanyu didn't find their own triad. 

Cole sets up another amazing series that is a must read for fans of her work. I can't wait for the other books in the series. For those who have never read Alyssa Cole, please read first "A Princess in Theory" to understand the true magnificence of Cole's writing. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Loved this book!  Great POC romance.  It is exciting to see more and more diverse romances coming out!  I recommend this title for anyone who loves romance.  It is a great page turner. It took me away from the insanity of these tough times.
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