About the Book:
Title: The Princess Stakes
Author: Amalie Howard
Page Length: 352
Publication Date: June 29, 2021
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Synopsis: Born to an Indian maharaja and a British noblewoman, Princess Sarani Rao has it all: beauty, riches, and a crown. But when Sarani’s father is murdered, her only hope is the next ship out—captained by the boy she once loved…and spurned.
Captain Rhystan Huntley, the reluctant Duke of Embry, is loath to give up his life at sea. But duty is calling him home, and this is his final voyage. Leave it to fate that the one woman he’s ever loved must escape to England on his ship.
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The Princess Stakes is a wonderful enemies-to-lovers romance! The story begins as Sarani flees a coup that results in her father’s assassination. Sarani, daughter of the maharaja and a British noblewoman, bribes her way onto a ship bound for England. What she doesn’t realize is that the captain of the ship is Rhystan Huntley, her first love.
Rhystan is still bitter over the way his relationship with Sarani ended, and he is angry when he learns she finagled her way onto his ship. Now a Duke, duty calls Rhystan back to England, while desire pulls him in a different direction. But can he turn away from the only woman he’s ever loved when her life is in danger?
Sarani is the highlight of the story. She is feisty and fierce, and she is super skilled with blades. I love that Sarani stands up for herself, especially with Rhystan, who initially isn’t very nice to her. As Rhystan gives her some of the most unpleasant chores on his ship in exchange for her passage, Sarani gives him a taste of his own medicine. I love that she doesn’t stand for his poor treatment, and instead pushes back. Sarani and Rhystan are so similar. Both are hiding – their names, their personalities, their desires. Both are fleeing from their pasts, both don’t feel like they belong. They are both also bound by duty and often put their own feelings aside to do what is right and expected. This is what initially causes their separation and what threatens their future.
Sarani and Rhystan have a chemistry-laden lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romance, and there are times when their love seems impossible. However, it’s clear from the start that this couple has very strong feelings for each other. On their voyage from India to England, they agree to a fake engagement, which serves two purposes. First, it takes the pressure off Rhystan, whose mother is pressuring him to marry. Second, it protects Sarani, whose life is in danger. Being engaged to one of the wealthiest and most influential dukes of England offers Sarani a semblance of protection. However, it doesn’t save her from the scorn and racism that she experiences from Rhystan’s peers.
The story also delves into the history of the time and the conflicts between England and India, which is so interesting. The author explores the instability and political upheaval, as well as the disgusting racism that Sarani faces since she is bi-racial. Being half-Indian and half-English in a super prejudiced society causes much conflict for Sarani, as do the assassins who seem to be targeting her. This makes for some tense, suspenseful, and action-packed scenes. I love that Sarani fights her own battles and doesn’t always need a man, in this case Rhystan, to fight for her. It says a lot about her character and her sense of self.
Finally, be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end of the story. There’s some really interesting historical information that relates to the story, and it addresses some of the inspiration behind the story, characters, and themes. I think that what the author says about women, identity, and self-worth is really insightful and powerful.
Thanks so much to NetGalley, Sourcebooks Casablanca, and Amalie Howard for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. I so enjoyed the story and can’t wait to read more by the author!
- The romance!
- The characters development.
- The social statements and messages about womanhood.
Where they came from did not make them who they were.
Silence has never done any woman favors.
Duty would always come first. Duty, and the will of powerful men.
Desire was a double-edged sword that cared little for its wounded.
I’d rather be wrong than willfully ignorant.
Her mother had once said that one stone could still cause ripples in the largest sea.
This is a great story for readers who like:
- historical romance
- strong female protagonists
- enemies-to-lovers romance
- fake engagements