NJB Time Machine Review: How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole (Spoilers)

Welcome back to NJB, or as it may come to be known, the unofficial intense fan club of Alyssa Cole and everything she writes. I am here to talk about the magic that is “How to Catch a Queen” and also have “How to Find a Princess” on the list for an upcoming review and I am so pumped!!!

Ok, so first things first: content and trigger warnings. Toxic family dynamics, isolation tactics used against an MC, sexism, toxic masculinity, deceit, loss of parental figures, abandonment off page, death of parental figure on page and descriptions of vomit.

Now on to the show!

If you’ve read any of my past Alyssa Cole Royals reviews, you know I love this series to bits. But I have to say, this book blows all my past expectations out of the water. I hoarded each chapter, only wanting to read when I could be fully immersed. I took notes as I read of all the bits I loved and pondered tweeting them cause I just wanted to share the sheer joy of this book.

Shanti, one of our main characters, is a tornado of determined, passionate, femme energy. I fell in love with her from the word go. You may remember her from cameos in Cole’s previous Reluctant Royals books. Her match in this book is Sanyu, king of Njaza. You may remember him from a distinct desire to possibly punt him due to him not eating his wife’s food after an advisor deemed it insufficient while Johan and Nya were visiting the country. (I had stabby feelings. You may have too.)

I will admit, I was slightly worried at how Alyssa was going to get into Sanyu. I was preeeetttyyy firmly in the “fire him from a cannon front” prior to this book. But I shouldn’t have doubted. Sanyu’s perspective is so open and compelling and powerful for folks who have lived in the shadows of powerful parents and have complicated relationships with them.

By the first few chapters, all of my anger and hate for Sanyu had transmitted to Musoke, his advisor and parental figure. Somewhere around the part where Sanyu tells the story of being forced to stab his blanket with a spear, I was ready to call for Musoke’s head.

However, I was drawn back in to the fun with amazing jokes, hilarious text message threads between royals, a highly inventive and hilarious RoyalMatch.com representative (oh my god she’s getting her own book, i am so excited) and some impressive discussions on how to create a healthy relationship for folks who don’t have good examples in their family.

Truly, this book is a gift. Huge range, amazing characters, realistic relationship problems, people learning how to communicate, second chance romances, learning how to set boundaries and talk with your family and amazing mental health representation. These things are why these books are the gold standard for me of how you write books on royals without falling into the same old pitfalls. To see African royalty climbing out of colonial legacies and finding their own way is a beautiful vision of how things could be. To see two people finding a way to make a relationship that works for them and fits them is also amazingly beautiful. And lastly, to see an author deal meaningfully with the complexities of family of origin and trauma and loss fills my heart with joy. I won’t spoil anymore, but go read this. You won’t regret it and then I will have someone else to squee with on twitter about this.

But until next time,


p.s. I didn’t receive an arc for this book, cause 2020 was wild, but I decided to review it anyway cause Alyssa’s work is fantastic.

Review: ‘A Prince on Paper’

A black woman with long braided hair stands on one leg in a teal, black and purple floral patterned off shoulder dress. Her other leg is held and supported by a light skinned man with auburn hair in a white shirt, pants and a patterned vest. Both of their eyes are closed. Behind them is a city, washed in a teal color.

I swear this isn’t turning into the Alyssa Cole review blog (but damn a being can dream). She’s just been producing so much amazing stuff lately that you are going to be inundated for a bit. Its a great problem to have, trust me.

Content and trigger warnings for the book: Discussion and description of past controlling and abusive behavior by Nya’s father and continued attempts at controlling behavior. Emotionally abusive language. Gaslighting, recovery from said gaslighting. Death of a parental figure and funerals. Lack of consent around usage of pictures of main characters. Discussion of death of a close family member and the resultant grief and guilt. 

First, what makes it hit the blog, besides my intense feelings about Alyssa Cole’s writing. Nya’s someone recovering from trauma, an African woman and learning how to find her own agency. Johan is from a blended family and lost his mother young. He’s learning how to cope with all those feelings.

Can you see why I lost my mind at this?

Ok, so for anyone who had a super soft spot for Nya in ‘A Princess in Theory’ (the woman being held captive of sorts by her father, who was the villain of the piece), this book is for you. It has virtual dating sims, playboy Prince’s with secret hearts of gold (one of my faaave tropes), people coping with complex parents and families, coming out stories, and empowerment. Its a delightful clown car, except there are no clowns (whew) and its much more fun than that.

Whew, ok, I’m getting ahead of myself. So, Nya is heading back to Theosolo for the wedding of our previous pair from ‘A Princess in Theory’ (which if you haven’t read, go get that, for the love all that’s holy, you will want to know the details and its so cute!).

Anyhow, she unexpectedly bumps into Prince Johan, who we’ve seen fabulous glimpses of here and there, especially in ‘A Duke by Default’ (otherwise known as the adventures of Swordbae and Woman of the 21st Century in my head). They have a key misunderstanding, because of course. And then they start realizing how amazingly hot and intriguing they both are.

Its fun, its steamy, there’s twists, turns, the past coming back to haunt and healing from family wounds. There’s fake engagements, real engagements, romantic castles and very public love confessions.

One of my favorite parts of this book is how the characters handle their pasts and each other. They also handle conflict in a beautiful and realistic way. It sets so many good standards for a healthy relationship, even with all the drama.

What more could you want? I’m not gonna spoil it, cause it would be a crime, but go snag it when its out on April 30th! You won’t regret it in the slightest.

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

*I received an Arc for an honest review and you will pry it from my fingers when I am dead and gone.