This is book number 1 in the Runaway Royals series.
Every time I started a new installment in Cole’s Reluctant Royals series I was convinced it couldn't top the last. I was always wrong (and have the text receipts expressing my repeated excitement to prove it). How to Catch a Queen is Shanti and Shanyu’s story and begins a new spinoff series, Runaway Royals. I was hooked immediately. We got a mere glimpse of Shanti and Shanyu’s relationship in A Prince on Paper, and I couldn’t wait to know more. At the beginning of Queen, Shanti is nearing the potential end of her marriage trial period to King Shanyu of Najza, an isolated African nation unfriendly to outsiders that has a reputation for queens coming and going in the blink of an eye. Shanti, who was first introduced as Naledi’s theoretical competition turned unwitting vomit catcher in A Princess in Theory, is now a leading lady struggling to make her voice known in a country seemingly hell bent on erasing her from their history. Shanti, who has spent her life studying political theory, economics, and everything else queen-hood entails, does all she can to help herself, her husband, and her new country before the timer on her marriage runs out and she is sent away. Shanyu, who has been told all his life he could never live up to his father’s strength feels suffocated and powerless, afraid to to fail, but more afraid to acknowledge any emotional attachments that might make him weak. Like all of Cole’s novels, How to Catch a Queen is full of life, with each character carving out their own identity amid political drama, emotional reckonings, and, of course, love. Shanti and Shanyu are a welcome addition to Cole’s contemporary pantheon of African royalty and I can’t wait to see where the series takes us next.— From Jenni's Picks
“In a time when Black kings and queens are a much-need balm to a seeming overflow of anti-Black sentiment, I fell in love with Shanti and Sanyu. Bogged down by tradition, ritual, and grief, Sanyu is trapped in a well of unrealistic expectations. Shanti, a queen searching for her kingdom, is the self-assured heroine we all look for and want to be. This story of their partnership turned love affair is filled with forbidden heat and flames, as well as the promise of a better tomorrow. Complex characters for complex times. I loved it.”
— Keiana Mayfield, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC
An arranged marriage leads to unexpected desire, in the first book of Alyssa Cole’s
Runaway Royals series…
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.
Alyssa Cole is an award-winning author of historical, contemporary, and sci-fi romance. Her contemporary rom-com A Princess in Theory was one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018, and her books have received critical acclaim from Library Journal, BuzzFeed, Kirkus, Booklist, Jezebel, Vulture, Book Riot, Entertainment Weekly, and various other outlets. When she’s not working, she can usually be found watching anime or wrangling her many pets.