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The Princess Stakes

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Born to an Indian maharaja, Princess Sarani Rao has it all: beauty, riches, and a crown. But with a British mother, her mixed blood makes her a pariah and a target. And when Sara's father is murdered, her only hope of survival is to escape on the next ship out―captained by the boy she once loved...and spurned. Captain Rhystan Huntley, the reluctant Duke of Embry, has a plac Born to an Indian maharaja, Princess Sarani Rao has it all: beauty, riches, and a crown. But with a British mother, her mixed blood makes her a pariah and a target. And when Sara's father is murdered, her only hope of survival is to escape on the next ship out―captained by the boy she once loved...and spurned. Captain Rhystan Huntley, the reluctant Duke of Embry, has a place in the English fleet, which he's loathe to give up. 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 India on his ship.


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Born to an Indian maharaja, Princess Sarani Rao has it all: beauty, riches, and a crown. But with a British mother, her mixed blood makes her a pariah and a target. And when Sara's father is murdered, her only hope of survival is to escape on the next ship out―captained by the boy she once loved...and spurned. Captain Rhystan Huntley, the reluctant Duke of Embry, has a plac Born to an Indian maharaja, Princess Sarani Rao has it all: beauty, riches, and a crown. But with a British mother, her mixed blood makes her a pariah and a target. And when Sara's father is murdered, her only hope of survival is to escape on the next ship out―captained by the boy she once loved...and spurned. Captain Rhystan Huntley, the reluctant Duke of Embry, has a place in the English fleet, which he's loathe to give up. 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 India on his ship.

30 review for The Princess Stakes

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ari

    So I heard y’all wanted an ownvoice’s review of The Duke’s Princess Bride. First and foremost, I want to start off this review by linking Vicky's review of The Duke’s Princess Bride as she hit the nail right on the head when it comes to pinpointing all the issues that I had with this upcoming release. I know that this may be an issue for some as Vicky is not an ownvoice reviewer nor is she a reviewer of color, but I believe her review is relevant and important. (I’ll also list the trigger war So I heard y’all wanted an ownvoice’s review of The Duke’s Princess Bride. First and foremost, I want to start off this review by linking Vicky's review of The Duke’s Princess Bride as she hit the nail right on the head when it comes to pinpointing all the issues that I had with this upcoming release. I know that this may be an issue for some as Vicky is not an ownvoice reviewer nor is she a reviewer of color, but I believe her review is relevant and important. (I’ll also list the trigger warnings Vicky included in her review: Colonialism; racism; colourism; anti-blackness; castism; racist slurs; racist assault; murder; parental death; sibling death; attempted sexual assault; misogyny.) Plus, my review will be so similar to her’s and since some of y’all ain’t wanna listen to the white girl had to say, imma repeat the same things as a Brown girl and maybe this time y’all will actually listen. Truth be told, when the cover for The Duke’s Princess Bride dropped on Twitter, I was not here for it. I’ve also been a reader who selects most of her books based on covers and there was just something about this cover that rubbed me the wrong way. But I’m a girl who doesn’t know when to turn her curiosity off and I decided to give this book a read despite my hesitations. I started The Duke’s Princess Bride two weeks ago and I had every intention of DNFing at 40%. But then I stumbled upon Vicky’s review and it confirmed some of the feelings I was starting to have about this story, so I decided to push through and now I'm left with a bitter taste in my mouth. Quick rundown of what The Duke’s Princess Bride is about because why not? Set in 1861, this story opens up with Princess Sarani Rao finding her father’s dead body and then fleeing to England with her servants before she is met with a similar fate. The three bribe their way onto a ship called the Belonging and it’s not too long until Sarani learns that the captain of the ship is none other than the boy who stole her heart five years ago: the Duke of Embry, Captain Rhystan Huntley. Still harboring feelings of ill will, Rhystan would like nothing more than to drop Sarani off at the nearest port and high tail it out of there. But when Sarani reveals the true reason for why she is on the run, Rhystan comes up with a solution that will be beneficial to both of them, a marriage of convenience. Can this pair put aside their past in order to work together to achieve a common goal, or will their past be the reason why their plan goes up in flames? THE DUKE You know, if someone would’ve told me that defending a colonizer hero would be a thing in 2020, I wouldn’t have believed them but yet here we are. Captain Rhystan Huntley, Duke of Embry is a selfish, misogynistic colonizer who comes across as somewhat redeemable because he doesn’t demean Indian people (which is basically the bare minimum at this point). Rhystan has a “woe is me” attitude as he whines about having to attend to his responsibilities as a Duke when he would rather spend his time sailing from sea to shining sea and sipping rum on his sugar plantations in the West Indies. I’m not going to include the plantation quotes because everybody has posted about them on Twitter and you can read them in Vicky’s review if you want to, but the fact that Rhystan owning a few plantations is just thrown into conversation without a second thought is shocking to me. As an author who identifies as being Caribbean-American, I want to know what compelled Howard to write about a hero who quite literally could’ve owned her own ancestors. What type of internalization does one have to do in order to bring one’s self to write a hero like this because this just don’t sit right with my spirit. It’s even taken a step further as Rhystan romanticizes the idea of having Sarani with a child enjoying life on the plantation and this is just GARBAGE. It’s absolutely ridiculous that such an idea would be thought about in 2020. Rhystan is selfish and misogynistic because in order for him to achieve his daydreaming lifestyle, he has to convince his mother to stop trying to marry him off while at the same time he is trying to marry his younger sister off so he no longer has to be responsible for her. Double standard much? The whole marriage of convenience plan was more so to benefit Rhystan so he could satisfy his wanderlust thirst, which again is just selfish. I think the idea of being okay with a colonizer hero and wanting to give these types of historical romances “a chance” can be dangerous and harmful because it opens the door to allow other types of problematic heroes to be written. How about a Nazi hero? Or maybe we can take the Thomas Jefferson route and write about his love children? Or what about a woke John Smith? The answer to these types of heroes should always be a HARD NO. BIPOC do not need to be reminded of people who cause their ancestors pain and suffering. There’s no place for this nonsense in any genre, especially not in historical romances. THE PRINCESS How I feel about Princess Sarani: I don’t even know where to start with this one. There is just so much to unpack here but let’s just get right to the meaty stuff: Princess Sarani is a colorist. Sarani is a biracial Princess with Indian, English and Scottish blood running through her veins who favors her European features and strives to look just like an English woman. Let me count the ways y’all: “Her skin was pale enough, but she’d been careless in the past few years, forgoing a parasol.” “...she would have had noble blood running through her veins, even if her own ivory-skinned British mother, Lady Lisbeth Lockhart, hadn’t caught the eye of an Indian prince.” “Sarani was now careful to wear proper clothing and use a parasol on deck...knowing that Englishwomen took great care with their flawlessly pale complexion.” “Her skin was as unblemished as theirs…” We are constantly reminded that light skin is equated to true beauty and those who don’t have pale complexions are deemed not beautiful and are othered. Being a biracial woman is a major theme in this book and while I can’t speak on Sarani’s struggles and her longing to feel accepted, I will say that her comparing her struggles to being “worse than those in the lowest castes” is a joke. Sarani is a white-passing (and yes she considers herself passing in the book) Indian Princess who lives in a palace with servants waiting on her hand and foot. I highly doubt that those in the lowest castes are afforded these same luxuries. Quite honestly, I’m surprised this book didn’t acknowledge the caste system more considering the caste system played such an integral role in Indian society back then. I’m quite sure the caste system would’ve also played a role in Sarani’s parent’s marriage, especially since this was a love marriage and not an arranged one. And finally, let’s get to Sarani’s “we should all be color-blind” agenda. I am so annoyed at the fact that this book suggests that the solution to racism is color-blindness. There is a scene where Sarani thanks Rhystan for offering to pay for Tej’s (her servant) schooling and states “you see past his color” and the fact that these words actually came out her mouth had me livid. Let it be known, color-blindness should never and will never be the solution to racism. My brown skin is the first thing people see when they meet me. I cannot change this, shed this, detach myself from being brown and I sure as hell shouldn’t have to let others disregard it in order for them to accept me. Ironically, I would think that Sarani would want people to acknowledge her color since she spends so much time fussing about it but in the end she doesn’t accept being either English or Indian. She states “I’m me and I have always been enough.” and quite honestly, it makes me feel sad because I would’ve liked to have seen her be a proud Desi girl. EDIT : I wasn’t sure if I should include this in my review since I am not Black, but I think that if we’re unpacking all the problematic content in this book, then it would be unjust to not discuss the anti-blackness tones throughout this book. There are two scenarios in particular where we see blatant anti-blackness. FIRST SCENE: The Duke of Embry’s Welcome Home Party "Oh, have you met many Indian princes, my lady? I’ve heard that their clothes are studded with rubies and emeralds.” “Yes, and they do. They’re quite ostentatious, truly, some of the displays of wealth. Rubies as big as one’s fist and emeralds the size of plums.” “They are uncivilized. Black.” SECOND SCENE: The Duke of Embry's Ball "You can dress her in pretty clothes, but it doesn’t change who she is. And you’re a disgrace to the entire aristocracy bringing that...creature here and parading her as one of our own.” “She is one of your own, you inbred imbecile. Her mother was a countess with more noble blood in her veins than you have in yours. And her father was a prince.” “He was black.” “And you are white. Do you plan to make a salient point anytime soon, Markham?” “She does not belong here.” There are also numerous moments where Sarani is addressed by a racial slur meant for white and Black mixed people which confuses me because the Maharaja was never described as being Black so I'm not sure why it was constantly used to describe Sarani, especially since she is white passing. Again, I want to reiterate that I am not Black so this is not my lane, but take those quote and make of that what you will. THE ROMANCE While we are expected to believe that the Duke and the Princess are somewhat of equals, this could not be further from the truth. Though they both come from royal lineages and are both quite wealthy, Rhystan still has more power in this duo. First off, Rhystan is a white man and I don’t think that needs any more explanation than that. Secondly, while Sarani’s father may have been a Prince, his own powers were limited as he followed orders directed by The East India Company. Sarani herself eventually comes to the realization that her father was nothing more than a puppet whose strings are controlled by the Crown. So despite both Rhystan and Sarani both having feelings of not belonging, they’re circumstances are not the same, not even comparable, just not even at all. Lastly, the build-up for this romance was lacking. When Sarani and Rhystan first met, they were 16 and 19 and were wrapped up in a world-wind romance that was cut short. Then they are brought together again five years later and I felt like there were just not enough scenes with these two getting to know one another as who they were in the present. They are both wrapped up in loving who the other one was in the past as if nothing about either of them has changed. It’s the lack of growth in the relationship for me. FOOD FOR THOUGHT Before I wrap up my review, I just want to express some thoughts regarding the shit show that has gone down these past few days regarding this book and the divide it has somehow created between readers and authors. Also, I’m gonna be blunt as hell so if you don’t want your feelings hurt, just click out now. Firstly, while I agree with the commentary that authors of color are placed on a higher pedestal when it comes to publishing and have to overcome more obstacles than their white peers, this should not be a reason used as to why authors of colors should be excluded from criticism, especially if said criticism is harmful. I think what I found most concerning about this whole debacle is that most of the people calling out the problematic content are of the same background as the author so why were they attacked as if they have no understanding of the context when it is literally their own culture and history? If your own people are calling out problematic content in your work, then maybe you should take a seat and listen. I also want to note that no, it is not the job of authors of color to unpack every single racist and unjust theme in their book, but NOT challenging any problematic content at all and alluding to the notion that “whiteness” is your preference is fucking wrong, irresponsible and makes you a lazy writer and this book is the perfect example of doing all of those things. Own your bullshit when it's handed to you, that is literally all we are asking for! Secondly, to my fellow West Indian and Desi readers who may have been excited to read this book but are now dissuaded: we deserve romances that are not dependent on a colonizer saving the day and I am sorry that this book is not a win for us. To the readers who were vocal and expressed concern but were met with pushback, your efforts were not for nothing and I truly appreciate you all using your platform to bring light to the issues with this book. WE DESERVE BETTER. PERIOD. Lastly, I am low key in awe (and not in a good way) at this publisher’s attempt to add more diverse romances to their roster. Like they really said, let’s give ‘em a biracial Princess but let’s pair her with a colonizer and somehow their love will dismantle the British Empire (exaggeration). Y’all just out here doing the bare minimum at this point. As Vicky said in her review, The Duke’s Princess Bride is not it and that’s all she wrote, folks!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)

    There is a powerful, anti-racist historical romance to be written about an Indian heroine set against the backdrop of 1860s imperialism, but The Duke’s Princess Bride by Amalie Howard is not it. Although it is an own voices story by an author of colour, which aims to unpack racism and colourism, it is underpinned by a colonialist logic that suggests a problematic lack of reflection about the power relations at the heart of its story. Some of what I am going to describe in this review amounts, in There is a powerful, anti-racist historical romance to be written about an Indian heroine set against the backdrop of 1860s imperialism, but The Duke’s Princess Bride by Amalie Howard is not it. Although it is an own voices story by an author of colour, which aims to unpack racism and colourism, it is underpinned by a colonialist logic that suggests a problematic lack of reflection about the power relations at the heart of its story. Some of what I am going to describe in this review amounts, in my opinion, to a kind of epistemic violence: in that the book obscures or erases the oppression, exploitation, torture and murder of Indian peoples under British rule, both in India and elsewhere in the Empire. It consistently privileges the white gaze, even (and perhaps especially) through the eyes of Sarani, the novel’s bi-racial heroine, and it depends upon the white saviour narrative to deliver its HEA. From my position of privilege as a white British woman I found it deeply unfortunate and shocking; I can’t imagine how distressing, enraging and disaffirming it could be for a reader of colour. To read the rest of my review (which was too long for Goodreads), please head over to Medium: https://medium.com/@evesalexandria/th... I suggest that anyone who reads The Duke's Princess Bride does so with reference to the following content warnings: Colonialism; racism; colourism; racist slurs; racist assault; murder; parental death; sibling death; attempted sexual assault; misogyny.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Madison Warner Fairbanks

    The Princess Stakes by Amalie Howard Historical romance stand-alone. Second chance and fake relationship troupes. When her father, the maharaja, is murdered, Sarani fears for her life, and escapes onto a boat that’s leaving Bombay that night. The boat Captain just happens to be her one time crush that she was force to jilt upon her fathers commands. It’s a long voyage and Sarani is willing to work her share of chores. The Duke of Embry, aka the Captain, comes up with a plan that will suit them bot The Princess Stakes by Amalie Howard Historical romance stand-alone. Second chance and fake relationship troupes. When her father, the maharaja, is murdered, Sarani fears for her life, and escapes onto a boat that’s leaving Bombay that night. The boat Captain just happens to be her one time crush that she was force to jilt upon her fathers commands. It’s a long voyage and Sarani is willing to work her share of chores. The Duke of Embry, aka the Captain, comes up with a plan that will suit them both when they reach London. A fake engagement. The ending was brilliant with the heroine using her skills, her pride and receiving the family support. Absolutely loved it. Captivating with unexpected twists. This book is heavily weighted with dIversity issues. There are a few steamy hot scenes as the couple becomes emotionally connected and they begin a romance of true love. I skimmed over a dozen pages between 40% and 60% as the couple distanced themselves from each other while entering London society. Angsty maybe. I was drawn back in by the intrigue and the strength of the characters as their past kept coming up. This book also includes many time specific words that wouldn’t be used in today’s modern language. They were easily understood in context and I enjoyed looking them up occasionally for the specific definition. Excerpt - Sarani panics: “He stuck out his hand. “I propose a truce, then.” “A what?” “Truce. A cease-fire. Temporary amnesty.” She glared at him, ignoring his hand. “I know what truce means, you jackanapes. No one, least of all your mother, is going to be convinced that we are a love match. This is foolish. She’ll see right through this. Through me.” Her feeble confidence dissolved as panic set in. “I have a feisty tongue, made worse by weeks spent with your crew. I despise being told what to do. I couldn’t possibly make you or any Englishman a dutiful, proper wife. This is impossible.” Excerpt from The Princess Stakes by Amalie Howard The afterward is a bit of history and the voice of the author who knows the mixed culture and has incorporated it and risen to heights we can all aspire to in acceptance and understanding. I received a copy of this from NetGalley. I also purchased a copy to keep.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amalie Howard

    Thank you everyone for the conversation about my upcoming book. And I am so sorry for the harm that I have caused to reviewers, readers, and authors of color. That of course was never my intention. As an AOC, specifically Indo-Caribbean writing historical romance, it is tricky to write HEA when history is so fraught, and I realize I did not execute it as well as I had hoped. I want to thank the authors and reviewers of color who are holding me accountable, both behind the scenes and online. The Thank you everyone for the conversation about my upcoming book. And I am so sorry for the harm that I have caused to reviewers, readers, and authors of color. That of course was never my intention. As an AOC, specifically Indo-Caribbean writing historical romance, it is tricky to write HEA when history is so fraught, and I realize I did not execute it as well as I had hoped. I want to thank the authors and reviewers of color who are holding me accountable, both behind the scenes and online. The authors who have reached out to coach me as I begin revising the story. To my readers, I promise to hear concerns and to address them to the best of my ability. I'm listening and processing all the multilayered and complex points both broad and specific about my ARC and I'm taking all of this into account as I work on the final novel. I appreciate everyone who will give the story a chance.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amira

    4.25 stars! I do not normally write such long reviews, but I needed to get this one off my chest. There is a review here on Goodread that opens by stating, “There is a powerful, anti-racist historical romance to be written about an Indian heroine set against the backdrop of 1860s imperialism, but The Duke’s Princess Bride by Amalie Howard is not it.” I for one am glad this is not it. I wanted to read a romance not a powerful anti-racist historical. Nowhere in the blurb did it advertises itself thi 4.25 stars! I do not normally write such long reviews, but I needed to get this one off my chest. There is a review here on Goodread that opens by stating, “There is a powerful, anti-racist historical romance to be written about an Indian heroine set against the backdrop of 1860s imperialism, but The Duke’s Princess Bride by Amalie Howard is not it.” I for one am glad this is not it. I wanted to read a romance not a powerful anti-racist historical. Nowhere in the blurb did it advertises itself this! If this reviewer wanted that story go and write it. Kmt. I read the rest of the review and while there were some points that were valid, and as a black woman I did not agree with most of the review and all the bashing from others who did not read this book. What a lot of people seem to miss is what Own Voices mean and how many facets there are to marginalization. I believe the author worked from her heart and from a place she understood. A quick check on her social media reveals she is Caribbean and biracial. Right away I then understood the complexities she worked into her heroine Serani who is also biracial and the struggles she faced in being accepted in society. In truth, as someone who is biracial, I understood a lot of Serani’s struggle. I even recalled growing up how I struggled with my self-image oftentimes wishing I was blacker or whiter. I went from wishing my hair was nappier to wondering if I should bleach my skin to make it lighter. I did not fit to my mind. Those were MY thoughts as a teenager and I cannot begin to unpack my struggles, it would take a book or two. I identified with Ms. Howard’s heroine, I found Serani’s voice powerful, her struggles real, and when she said that “I am me,” my thoughts were, how did you so perfectly say something that I often whispered to myself growing up? Yet there are reviewers bashing her because of the struggles she had with being biracial. Seriously, if this is not your pain do not believe it is not others pain who do not see themselves represented like this. An author writing Own Voices does not require that she must wonder what everyone’s pain is and write about it, but to represent herself in her words in hopes of allowing marginalized voices like herself to see themselves represented. There are so many facets to own voices that there will be a time when we all see ourselves represented, but it is just not possible to do this in one book. I share this quote from an awesome article I recently read. “#Ownvoices is also supposed to uplift and celebrate marginalized voices, it’s supposed to put them at the forefront and highlight their work as one coming from a place of knowing, of living. A place where the author is intimately familiar with the ways in which their character threads through life, the ways in which being part of their minority shapes how they view the world and more importantly, how the world views them.” https://bit.ly/3mvEgf3 I see another huge issue with how the hero was represented. And I will admit there were a few times with his inner dialog I snorted and said, dude, you have no right to be comparing your life to slavery! Like really? It showed a disconnect from the realities of slavery that we see in almost every other hero in historical romances. I wondered if that was the author’s intention because well, the hero is white. Still, that inner reflection did not make the hero, to ignore all of his other facets and what made him a likable hero is disingenuous. The hero as a planation owner seems to be another issue. Perhaps I should ignore this, but it brought me to another point that many readers equate Caribbean History with American history. It is not the same. My great great grandfather was a plantation owner and he fell in love with a woman previously enslaved. How many people know that in the time Miss Howard set her book that there were no people enslaved in the Caribbean islands? That many people, like my great great granddad divided up his estate and gave it to the people whose lives had been ruined as reparation, but still retained their planation and hired people, (former slaves, migration Chinese, and non-indentured Indians) to work on their plantations. The word plantation is not defined as somewhere the enslaved works. But everyone were quick to judge and condemn as if they knew the lens this author wrote her story through. My greatest regret is that she apologized for your inherent biases and pain, instead of you taking time to google and doing some research on Caribbean history, when slavery was abolished, and how were the plantations then operated. But once again, it is the author who should give you a history lesson and it is okay for you to believe instead she was being harmful! I find it even more interesting that most of the people bashing these books have given so many other historical romances, all white, by the way, glowing reviews. Because those dukes in the regency were not dependent on plantations who actually had slaves. They all did. All the earls, and dukes, etc. But the out cry is for the AOC. I choked on my tea when a reviewer asked how the author could make her heroine fall in love with someone who owned her ancestors. Let’s burn all the other historical romance novels out there, even the favorite you have on your shelf. Your favorite duke and white earl owned slaves and to this day refuse to repatriate and you celebrate those heroes without roaring after the author. This is a huge uproar about the plantation he inherited that was more than likely worked by Chinese laborer. Though I draw from my great great grandfather’s account. Go and read on Caribbean history and how the plantations were operated after 1848 before you lament this hero as a colonizer. Or kindly attach the label to all other HR hero! Now that I have gotten that off my chest. The romance in The Duke’s Princess Bride was scorching. Sweet, complex, and heartfelt. I highly recommend it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    OH MY WORD LOOK AT THAT COVER

  7. 5 out of 5

    Twice Upon A Book

    Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Edit: In my original review I ignored the racism and racial tensions in the book because I felt uncomfortable doing so as a white reviewer. But I would be doing a disservice to say that this book did not address these issues at all and chooses to glass over them. Because this is an #ownvoices book I did not want to say how an AOC should choose to represent her ancestry but it is not even addressed. I w Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Edit: In my original review I ignored the racism and racial tensions in the book because I felt uncomfortable doing so as a white reviewer. But I would be doing a disservice to say that this book did not address these issues at all and chooses to glass over them. Because this is an #ownvoices book I did not want to say how an AOC should choose to represent her ancestry but it is not even addressed. I will let other reviewers who can speak more eloquently to this issue but I regret not speaking up. The male MC is a plantation owner and that fact is glossed over repeatedly as well as other colonial issues.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maja - BibliophiliaDK ✨

    IT ALMOST FEELS POINTLESS TO WRITE THIS REVIEW I - like many others - find myself troubled by this book. It didn't sit well with me. Many other reviewers have commented on the problematic way that colonizers and people of mixed race are depicted in this book. So I won't be making any comments on this - others have said what I would say much better than I ever could. Instead I'll urge you to read there reviews: - Ari's review - Vicky Hoyle's review 👎 What (Else) I Disliked 👎 Lust: This was not a roma IT ALMOST FEELS POINTLESS TO WRITE THIS REVIEW I - like many others - find myself troubled by this book. It didn't sit well with me. Many other reviewers have commented on the problematic way that colonizers and people of mixed race are depicted in this book. So I won't be making any comments on this - others have said what I would say much better than I ever could. Instead I'll urge you to read there reviews: - Ari's review - Vicky Hoyle's review 👎 What (Else) I Disliked 👎 Lust: This was not a romance novel. This was pure erotica. There is, in my opinion, nothing between the two main characters beside lust. They don't seem to have any deeper connection. They never talk about anything of any value or get to know each other. No romance, just lust and smut. I, honestly, need more. Plot: Not only was there no romance - there was no plot either. Sure, there is a feeble attempt at a substandart plot. But basically, this is just erotica. Nothing else. ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review Follow me for more book loving content! Blog ✨ Facebook ✨ Instagram ✨ Twitter Blog Post: 9 Hallmark-esque Christmas Romance Books

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Reid

    Oh yes yes yes! This was a fantastic read! Full review to come!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jultri

    3.5/5. Princess Sarani, mixed-race daughter of an Indian maharaj and a British aristocrat, fell for Englishman, Rhystan when they were both young and full of romantic notions. Courtesy of outside influences and family obligations, these notions did not last too long and they were parted under a cloud of broken vows and acrimony. Immediately after Sarani's father was ruthlessly murdered by those looking to usurp his place, Sarani makes a mad dash escape from India to her late mother's birth natio 3.5/5. Princess Sarani, mixed-race daughter of an Indian maharaj and a British aristocrat, fell for Englishman, Rhystan when they were both young and full of romantic notions. Courtesy of outside influences and family obligations, these notions did not last too long and they were parted under a cloud of broken vows and acrimony. Immediately after Sarani's father was ruthlessly murdered by those looking to usurp his place, Sarani makes a mad dash escape from India to her late mother's birth nation. She stows onboard a ship captained by none other than Rhystan, now the Duke of Embry and no longer the lovelorn young boy of yesteryear. This Rhystan is taller, more powerfully built, more formidable and intimidating in every way - and full of wrath and bitterness, all directed at her. When the ARC was first released last year, there were a lot of initial criticisms of the book with readers feeling that the author was glossing over colonialism and that there were some rather uncomfortable racial elements and even racist slurs and stereotypes. Kudos to the multiracial author (who is of part Indian heritage) who read all these feedback and allowed herself to be guided by these as well as advice from fellow authors. The result is revised book, this updated ARC that I have read, which appears to me to have removed all these troubling components of the book. Instead, Howard has emphasised that even when the relationship between the English colonists and the Indian people appeared cordial, racism and subtle oppression were not too far below the surface and the leadership of local Indian rulers were constantly undermined by the English, who never accepted them as equals even when the locals adopt English clothing, language and habits. Howard also included historically accurate information about uprising of the Indian people against the colonial occupation. My issues with the book: Rhystan was an arse who who remained vengeful and aloof even after learning the truth about the past. He was happy enough to take advantage of her, but offered her little in return. He displayed no evidence (external and internal) of carrying any affection for her until the very end. Also, how did he become a commander at 19? Sarani, once she left Indian shores, did little to retain her Indian heritage. She dressed, behaved and spoke like an English aristocrat. Moreover, her inner dialogues were as English as could be also. What happened to her Indian beliefs, her customs, her habits? Additionally the rhythm method of contraception was not known in those days. Overall, entertaining enough if not exactly memorable.

  11. 5 out of 5

    ChasingLeslie

    Indian Princess Sarani Rao’s father has been murdered and she has to escape the palace in a hurry. With the help of a maid and servant, they bribe their way onto a ship in the dead of night. Captain Rhystan Huntley was born a third son but is now the disinclined Duke of Embry. Duty is calling him back to England, but the last thing he expects to find on his ship is the woman he loved and lost. Sarani, traveling as Lady Sara Lockhart, is the daughter of an Indian Maharaja and a British/Scottish mo Indian Princess Sarani Rao’s father has been murdered and she has to escape the palace in a hurry. With the help of a maid and servant, they bribe their way onto a ship in the dead of night. Captain Rhystan Huntley was born a third son but is now the disinclined Duke of Embry. Duty is calling him back to England, but the last thing he expects to find on his ship is the woman he loved and lost. Sarani, traveling as Lady Sara Lockhart, is the daughter of an Indian Maharaja and a British/Scottish mother from the aristocracy. When Sarani and Rhystan first interacted in Joor, they fell for each other, but he was “beneath” her position as a younger son. Years later, he is Duke and she is displaced. I enjoyed this book and thought there were a lot of layers. I liked the tension that built while they were on the ship, and the development of their characters when they returned to England. Sarani was fierce and spunky, despite trying accept herself and figure out where she belonged. Rhystan was an independent, thrust into a title he never wanted. They forge a fake relationship to keep Sarani safe and Rhystan from matchmaking mommas (including his own)...but, with their history, things don't progress as planned! This book got super steamy with some amazingly sexy scenes! I loved that. I also loved the author note at the end. It's always appreciated when an author gives readers an insight into their writing and what's going on during that time in history. Tropes: First Love, Second Chance, Ship Trip Romance, Fake Relationship, Culture Clash Steam Rating: 5 * I received an ARC and this is my honest review. #ThePrincessStakes #NetGalley

  12. 5 out of 5

    Farshana ❤️rainnbooks❤️

    Many Thanks to Net Galley, SOURCEBOOKS Casablanca, and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily. The Duke’s Princess Bride attracted my attention coz of 2 reasons, one Amalie Howard’s The Beast Of Beswick which I had read earlier was superb and second the blurb talking about an Indian princess was appealing. I hardly check reviews before I read a book, it was only after finishing the last page and writing this review that I thought to check if t Many Thanks to Net Galley, SOURCEBOOKS Casablanca, and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily. The Duke’s Princess Bride attracted my attention coz of 2 reasons, one Amalie Howard’s The Beast Of Beswick which I had read earlier was superb and second the blurb talking about an Indian princess was appealing. I hardly check reviews before I read a book, it was only after finishing the last page and writing this review that I thought to check if there are other people who felt the same as me. And lo and behold, there is quite a hullabaloo with the subjects being raised in this book. Sorry, Ms. Howard, it says in your bio that you are an author with Indian and Middle Eastern origins and the dilemma that the heroine Sarani Rao counters in this book is understandable. Also, I loved the spicy and steamy romance but and this is a big BUT, I sincerely wish that the issue of color was kept to the minimum. When every other sentence talks about the color of the heroine, it begins to jar after a while. For a seemingly fair-minded and unprejudiced hero, Rhystan also thinks of people on the basis of their color. Despite the oft repeated matter of seeing beyond the beauty of the person, Sarani and Rhystan are completely absorbed with each other’s looks and the feeling it evokes. As an Indian, I was thankful that the author characterizes Sarani as a warrior princess and has actually mentioned Jhansi Ki Rani. History in India is in fact peppered with such strong women who fought against so much during the British rule; and that’s where my other point of contention comes in. The issue of colonialism is totally glazed over which would have not been a complication if a major part of the story was not centered around it. I have read more than a dozen historical romances with officers in East India Company but none have left me with this irritable feeling. If you are a fan of historical romances, please do not be put off with this review as in spite of the above mentioned concerns, the romance between Sarani and Rhystan is utterly delicious, the hot, hot chemistry and sexual tension oozing off the pages. I suggest that all readers read the book for the romance alone and not delve deep into the historical aspect of it which then wouldn’t dim one’s pleasure. This review is published in my blog https://rainnbooks.com/; Amazon India, Goodreads, and Twitter.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Kramer

    Not reading due to problematic content as pointed out in my friend Vicky's review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Not reading due to problematic content as pointed out in my friend Vicky's review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jewlsbookblog

    First off, whomever designed this cover did a phenomenal job! The colors are eye-catching and the couple definitely embody the characters in the book! I liked a lot about the story. A love affair doomed from the start, yet given a second chance, a diverse and quite colorful cast of characters, the frank and sometimes philosophical conversations between Sarani and Rhystan-two worlds, sometimes similar issues, and when you mix in the innuendo loaded banter, deliciousness ensues! Then there is all First off, whomever designed this cover did a phenomenal job! The colors are eye-catching and the couple definitely embody the characters in the book! I liked a lot about the story. A love affair doomed from the start, yet given a second chance, a diverse and quite colorful cast of characters, the frank and sometimes philosophical conversations between Sarani and Rhystan-two worlds, sometimes similar issues, and when you mix in the innuendo loaded banter, deliciousness ensues! Then there is all the quirkiness I loved about Ravenna (Rhystan’s sister) and was I the only one thinking something could and/or was developing between Gideon and Asha?! There’s a couple of icky villains and the more than obvious race bias to deal with considering Sarani is half Indian/ half English, fitting in neither world and making her reality difficult to say the least. Howard gives smattering references to the British rule in India and mentions the Sepoy Mutiny throughout the story, but nothing that went into extreme detail, because hello! This story is ultimately supposed to be a romance first-not historical discourse. It’s about two people baring it all and building each other up, and finding some happy in the drudgery of the world. I appreciated how Howard mentions enough details to create a reference point for the reader to place the characters while also creating dialogue regarding their situations. She manages to leave the historical aspects in the background and keeps the romance up front and center. Her author’s note gives further detail as to who, why, and her ultimate goal to writing this book and I think she did a pretty bang up job. I received an advance reader copy from Sourcebooks Casablanca/Netgalley and this is my honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    nitya

    The cover is beautiful (just the brown woman) The colonizer worship and colorism? Not so much. :\ * I do support #ownvoices authors, but don't wish to support harmful and inaccurate representation. My people deserve way better. The cover is beautiful (just the brown woman) The colonizer worship and colorism? Not so much. :\ * I do support #ownvoices authors, but don't wish to support harmful and inaccurate representation. My people deserve way better.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alvina

    Tags: colonialism, cross cultural Having grown up reading novels about Greek tycoons, Sheiks, Native Americans, tribes and “half-bloods”, I know all about “the exotic” in romance, and this book was far more sensitive when introducing the heroine’s heritage. The Author wrote this from a place of kinship. She’s not writing a race critique of the time but a romance novel. I think we’ve become a little misguided in our approach to these kind of works, and I fear strict gatekeeping and expecting perfe Tags: colonialism, cross cultural Having grown up reading novels about Greek tycoons, Sheiks, Native Americans, tribes and “half-bloods”, I know all about “the exotic” in romance, and this book was far more sensitive when introducing the heroine’s heritage. The Author wrote this from a place of kinship. She’s not writing a race critique of the time but a romance novel. I think we’ve become a little misguided in our approach to these kind of works, and I fear strict gatekeeping and expecting perfection will scare away authors trying something new. For people interested in this discussion, there’s a great little post written on tumblr about throwing your baby out with the bathwater . So, I was biased from the start and really wanted to like this novel. But, gosh, I really disliked the hero. I found him to be crass and selfish as befitting his station, but not worthy of my admiration. I think the intersection of her race and power difference of the “fish out of water” trope with heroine trying to please high society made a lot of readers naturally uncomfortable. The typical misogynistic lustful hero probably didnt help matters. Its fundamentally a novel about racism and the Society is even more exaggerated in their judgement. Readers looking for a typical read might feel uncomfortable with this one. Still, while the author’s note is incredibly touching and its clear how thoughtful she was when approaching this topic, its really not as groundbreaking as perhaps readers hoped it would be.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Johnson

    DNR. IR romance with a white plantation owning hero.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Trisha (semi-hiatus)

    I received a free e-ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is 3.5 stars, rounded down. This book was a real pain to get through, and not only because of the awful formatting of the e-ARC I got. I'm going to take this paragraph to rant about the formatting, so you can skip ahead to the next one. Oh God, I hated the formatting, the font was any very small, given it was supposed to be a PDF, but it was even smaller than normal PDF ARCs I've gotten, and on top of that it was double p I received a free e-ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is 3.5 stars, rounded down. This book was a real pain to get through, and not only because of the awful formatting of the e-ARC I got. I'm going to take this paragraph to rant about the formatting, so you can skip ahead to the next one. Oh God, I hated the formatting, the font was any very small, given it was supposed to be a PDF, but it was even smaller than normal PDF ARCs I've gotten, and on top of that it was double paned, and there was no way to get it to be single paned, so I had to read it with the page filling the whole page, which would make the font even smaller, and don't even get me started on the ADE issues with not being able to customise the viewing way much. *deep breath* Okay, now we can continue with the review. The first and foremost problem I had with this was the instalove and instalust, which you would think would be nonexistent in something that is a second chance romance, also featuring enemies to lovers, but apparently not. I did like the whole Rhystan more or less trying and failing to 'use' Sarani to make her feel what he felt all those years ago, but that plan went up in flames pretty fast, so ... And because of this instalove and lust, my enjoyment levels went even lower, and then we have the whole fake relationship. You would think, that something trying to incorporate all the above mentioned tropes with a fake relationship, would leave no room for insta love at all, but sadly not. These people get so distracted by sex, it's a wonder they weren't caught out earlier in this book and Sarani's reputation was not in tatters even earlier. You would think, that if one had to maintain a fake relationship in front of the ton, and not get caught in any compromising positions so as to avoid scandal, one would not start getting naked with the love interest behind a potted plant. Potted plant. You did not read that wrong. It was a potted plant. There really isn't anything more actually happening in this book. It was mostly Sarani and Rhystan making lusty eyes at each other despite supposedly hating the guts out of each other as well. I had somewhat higher expectations, but nearly none of them came to be. I also had a complaint regarding the flashbacks. I get that they were necessary, but they were so...intrusive somehow? Like they weren't even a separate font or anything so you could discern what was flashback and what wasn't. So I would keep floundering through the first two paragraphs of confusing text of some chapter, only to then go and reread it because it was a flashback and I had started thinking it was the present. And the flashbacks were so long. I would get bored sometimes, and that is also part of the reason it took me so long to read this. I will say this, I found the second part of the book much more engaging than the first, probably because there was so me basis for their lust-love, and because there were less flashbacks, and better angst. I also really loved Sarani's character (when she was not in lust), the sword wielding and similar fighting scenes were really enjoyable, and I found her a great badass female character (that scene where she fought those kidnappers was SO AMAZING). I did enjoy the rep for Indian (Sarani is half Indian, half english) as I am myself an Indian, but I would find myself wishing that more of the book was set in India. Though perhaps it was best it was not, because colonisation would have been hard to read about in what is essentially a feel-good historical romance. On the whole, perhaps just not for me. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical romances with a touch more lust than love, does not mind instalove, likes second chance romances and fake relationships, and enjoys a sword wielding strong heroine who actually fights her battles.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jenn (The Book Refuge)

    *Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC of this novel. All opinions are freely given.* I loved this book, and honestly I am really loving Amalie Howard's style. I have read The Beast of Beswick and the angsty and hate to love energy is something that I love so much. This book has so much going on. We have an interracial couple. We have royalty. We have a coup. We have a scorned lover and a second chance romance. We have forced proximity on a ship and a runaway princess. I was so here *Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC of this novel. All opinions are freely given.* I loved this book, and honestly I am really loving Amalie Howard's style. I have read The Beast of Beswick and the angsty and hate to love energy is something that I love so much. This book has so much going on. We have an interracial couple. We have royalty. We have a coup. We have a scorned lover and a second chance romance. We have forced proximity on a ship and a runaway princess. I was so here for all of it. It started on a run and it kept up the pace and the passion all the way through. We had a vibrant heroine in Sarani. She has had to make very hard choices and we find her in a dangerous situation. She manages to escape her fate and sneak her way onto a ship bound for the UK, only to realize she stumbled into the lap (literally) of someone she used to know. Our hero Rhystan, loved Sarani with a passion and he was spurned by her and lashed out to her in a horrible letter as a younger man. He was willing to give up everything for her, and she threw it in his face. Now she has the nerve to sneak onto his ship. He doesn't want to hear her reasons for what happened, and although I thought it was a bit aggressive HOW angry he is at her, I can understand how a love that fiery could burn even hotter as hatred. I can't speak to the racial and cultural parts of this book, but I really had a great time with the novel and I have been enjoying more racially diverse historical romances lately and have really loved them. This reminds me of Her Night With the Duke by Diana Quincy and I enjoy seeing women of this time period who have to be stronger than the "ton" of most novels. T This is an Own Voices story for the author, so that makes me even more excited. Sarani was even inspired by a real woman named Rani of Jhansi born in 1835 who fought against British rule in India in the 1850s. I loved how strong, clever, and passionate Sarani was. I love a brooding hero like Rhystan and he was sexy and very stubborn. I really hope more books like these continue to be written and I commend the author for taking on this kind of couple. I don't know what I don't know about Sarani, but I loved this book. The only things I didn't care for so much were honestly the intense hatred at the beginning. They were kids when everything happened. And I wanted our hero to grovel a bit more for how cruel he was in his letter. But it gives the novel an edge that I like. 4.5/5 stars

  20. 4 out of 5

    ABookNook

    ✨ willing brown girl seeking kickass adventure and brooding ship captain 🙋🏽‍♀️✨(it’s me I am willing brown girl 😂) Tropes: 😍 second chance 🙌🏼 hate to love 🥵 brooding ship captain hero ⚓️ adventure 👑 runaway + badass heroine 🥺 groveling 🗣 witty banter 😏 forced proximity Summary: After running away from the evil men who murdered her father, Princess Sarani manages to escape from India only to land on the ship belonging to the captain she knew and loved years ago. With danger hot on their trail, bot ✨ willing brown girl seeking kickass adventure and brooding ship captain 🙋🏽‍♀️✨(it’s me I am willing brown girl 😂) Tropes: 😍 second chance 🙌🏼 hate to love 🥵 brooding ship captain hero ⚓️ adventure 👑 runaway + badass heroine 🥺 groveling 🗣 witty banter 😏 forced proximity Summary: After running away from the evil men who murdered her father, Princess Sarani manages to escape from India only to land on the ship belonging to the captain she knew and loved years ago. With danger hot on their trail, both must team up to keep Sarani safe. But as old hurts and suppressed feelings begin to resurface, both can't help falling for each other all over again. As the descendent of Indian freedom fighters, South Asian colonialism is topic that is extremely vulnerable and important for me. I know the book had to go through a major recall to reform huge mistakes it committed in the earlier version. Therefore, It was vital to me that this book do everything right. I am glad to report that it did. The history and the plot was woven in perfectly while being true to the times and unoffensive. The recall was absolutely worth it. I haven't read the earlier version of the book so I cannot report on what had improved since its original. What this book achieved and how it did in this version was perfect to me. It is very hard and expensive for publishers and authors to recall books. Thank you so much Amalie Howard and Sourcebooks for taking that risk. As many early readers were, I would have been appalled and heartbroken if this book was problematic. The South Asian community has such a bloody and heartbreaking history with the time period and society most historical take place in, that is why it was vital to write this book, heal past hurts, and diversify the genre. Minorities of all kind are pushing for diversity in the historical romance genre and are met with the argument about the inability to weave historical accuracy into the plot. However, this book is the perfect example of how the history of a culture during that time period can be so scary but still beautifully woven into a historical romance for a modern society. Sourcebooks and Amalie Howard have done something amazing today. My eyes are getting misty as I write this review; this book and the diversification it achieves means so much to my community. Thank you. Moving on... Inspired by the ferocious Queen of Jansi, a martyr and overall badass in South Asian history, Sarani very much lived up to her inspiration. She was strong, kind, passionate, clever, etc. All things I wanted her to be. I loved how she took charge of her life and stood up for herself. Society shoves this male gaze ridden image of what a "badass" woman should look like: hyper masculine, unfeeling, unattached, etc. Historical romances are the biggest attest to how real badass women come in all varieties. Sarani was kickass, kind, clever, loving, considerate, etc. Loving people and being kind didn't take away from how badass she was. That is such a wonderful message to be showing readers. This book gives you so much 🙌🏼 I got badass heroine, hot brooding hero, sizzling chemistry, amazing tropes, artfully crafted history, great romance, sexy steam, gripping adventure, high stakes, and more! Rhystan was sexy, brooding, stubborn, and more! I could not get enough of him. I need a man like him in my life. Though I love a great hate to love, the only reason I am docking a 0.5 from this book is I wished there were better communication at the beginning. Their intense loathing was a little uncalled for seeing that it could have been solved very quickly. I also wished that Rhystan had groveled a bit more after saying and doing the hurtful things that he did. I am also hosting a GIVEAWAY for the book on my instagram (@_a.book.nook_) go check it out! I cannot stress enough how wonderful this book is. I implore you to read this book, especially if you are looking for a unique, steamy historical with wonderful diversity. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/ 5 stars | 🌶🌶🌶/ 5 steam Thank you to Sourcebooks, NetGalley, and Amalie Howard for granting me an ARC of this wonderful book in exchange for my honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amodini

    You can not write regency romances where the oppressed falls in love with her oppressor who is - gods know how - really *proud* of the British Empire's exploits AND he works for the East India Company that ruined millions of lives. Another book that shows the colonial history and suffering of my country as a backdrop of an oppressor-oppressed romance. JUST STOP. You can not write regency romances where the oppressed falls in love with her oppressor who is - gods know how - really *proud* of the British Empire's exploits AND he works for the East India Company that ruined millions of lives. Another book that shows the colonial history and suffering of my country as a backdrop of an oppressor-oppressed romance. JUST STOP.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    No.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Julie - One Book More

    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 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!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kales

    EDIT 8/31/20: I apologize if the original review was misleading for anyone. It was written out of ignorance and a lack of awareness for the harm this book has caused some readers. I promise to continue educating myself on the true history of this time period, specifically the colonization of this area and the impact, of which I wasn't aware of before. The author has said she will reexamine the book, as these reviews were just of the ARC, meaning there is time to change the book and learn from th EDIT 8/31/20: I apologize if the original review was misleading for anyone. It was written out of ignorance and a lack of awareness for the harm this book has caused some readers. I promise to continue educating myself on the true history of this time period, specifically the colonization of this area and the impact, of which I wasn't aware of before. The author has said she will reexamine the book, as these reviews were just of the ARC, meaning there is time to change the book and learn from this past draft before it is published. I will refrain from further judgment until the time that new ARC is released and changes are made. https://twitter.com/AmalieHoward/stat... Original Review (Made on 8/25/20): Words can't even describe how awesome this book is. I'm an avid reader of historical romances, particularly regency romances. Other than Beverly Jenkins, there aren't many BIPOC historical romance authors. Amalie Howard is breaking the norm and destroying all of the rules. It's brilliant and revolutionary and I need everyone to read this book. Seriously, this book has so many amazing elements: pirates, assassins, girls disguising themselves, badass heroines, enemies to lovers, delicious sex scene, and glorious fashion. I love how Amalie Howard delves past the surface of these characters and their sense of falsehood. Particularly Sarani's struggle with being biracial. It's prevalent in the book, as it would have been during that time period, and is so beautifully handled. Also Rhystan's acceptance of himself as a duke is great. The development of their relationship is well timed and well constructed. She takes the reader along a lovers journey full of ups and downs, and filled with history and baggage and political intrigue. The dichotomy between India and England is well portrayed and convinces me that there needs to be more romances set in India with those amazing women that, sadly, we haven't heard more about. I'm looking forward to more in this universe of characters and I can't make up my mind which couple I want her to focus on next. I'm thinking Ravenna needs a comeback, but also Tej, and the French guy. Or hell, just throw in another unknown woman of history, like Lakshmi Bai who Sarani is loosely based on. Honestly, I'll read all of it. Conclusion: Buy when it comes out and shove in everyone's face, telling them to READ IT

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brinley

    I really enjoyed this book! I went into it wanting a historical romance to escape into, and that's exactly what I got. I loved the way this incorporated so many of out favorite tropes but still kept them feeling new. First off, I really loved our protagonist, Sarani. Her journey towards accepting herself was amazing, especially when it went against everything she'd been told from a young age. I loved how she stood up for herself and took no nonsense. I loved how she would challenge Rhystan, she I really enjoyed this book! I went into it wanting a historical romance to escape into, and that's exactly what I got. I loved the way this incorporated so many of out favorite tropes but still kept them feeling new. First off, I really loved our protagonist, Sarani. Her journey towards accepting herself was amazing, especially when it went against everything she'd been told from a young age. I loved how she stood up for herself and took no nonsense. I loved how she would challenge Rhystan, she wouldn't just roll over and allow him to walk all over her. I loved how fierce she was. I also really enjoyed the romance. As a fan of enemies-to-lovers, I loved the friends to enemies to lovers dynamic in this. The tension between these two was written perfectly, and I was shipping them the entire time. I never felt like there wasn't any unnecessary angst in their relationship, which I appreciated. Even after spending 300 pages in this world, I'm not tired of it. I'd love to get another book about Ravenna, because she also promises to be a character I'd love. I'd definitely recommend this one!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pooja (Penningtales)

    DNF at 0% I've been sitting on this for a while. I won't lie, talking about this makes me uncomfortable. But not talking about this would be a dissservice. So here I am. I was orginally very excited to read this. The story and setting sounded so different and unique from all the other historical romances I've read. And being desi myself, learning the heroine was part Indian had me hitting the request button right away! But sadly since then, I've learned this novel suffers from lots of sensitivity i DNF at 0% I've been sitting on this for a while. I won't lie, talking about this makes me uncomfortable. But not talking about this would be a dissservice. So here I am. I was orginally very excited to read this. The story and setting sounded so different and unique from all the other historical romances I've read. And being desi myself, learning the heroine was part Indian had me hitting the request button right away! But sadly since then, I've learned this novel suffers from lots of sensitivity issues surrounding racism and colonization. I personally don't wish to read a romance between a poc heroine and a plantation owning hero. A romance where racial slurs are sprinkled about without challenge and the heroine's light skin is praised and considered valuable. And learning the hero is a misogynist on top of everything else makes this a hard pass for me. This extra disappointing because this was an own voice novel. Now I understand authors of colour have a more difficult time getting published than white authors, but I don't think that excludes should them from recieving criticism. And I'm glad my fellow desis and allies stepped up and pointed them out. I'm also glad the author has taken this criticism seriously and is making the necessary revisions. Instead of this, I'd rather read the revised copy. Please note: I received an advance digital copy of this book through NetGalley from Sourcebooks Casablanca and Amalie Howard in exchange for a honest review. This does not influence my opinions in any way.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    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. A very well written book 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. A very well written book with strong characters of depth. Very different from the usual historical romance & it made a refreshing change. I can understand that some readers may find some triggers but I read it as an entertaining, enjoyable romance between two people of different backgrounds who were given a second chance. A page turning read that flowed effortlessly & I was drawn in from start to finish My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

    Review copied from my blog, literarylovebooks.com This book was amazing (phenomenal, excellent, extraordinary, brilliant)! I was so blown away! One of my biggest gripes about historical romance is the lack of diversity, so I loved the fact that our heroine was half white and half Indian and how she struggled to find a place in both cultures. I loved how our hero loved her for her and could have cared less about where she came from. I really enjoyed being outside of London for half the book. Someth Review copied from my blog, literarylovebooks.com This book was amazing (phenomenal, excellent, extraordinary, brilliant)! I was so blown away! One of my biggest gripes about historical romance is the lack of diversity, so I loved the fact that our heroine was half white and half Indian and how she struggled to find a place in both cultures. I loved how our hero loved her for her and could have cared less about where she came from. I really enjoyed being outside of London for half the book. Something people forget about historical romance is all the research that has to go into it. Howard brought India to life in this story- the power struggle between India and the British colonizers was shown so well. Also, the tropes were abundant! They were done so well, and flowed through the book perfectly!! It was literally all my favorite tropes rolled into one! I just loooved this book so much. I’m hoping it will become a series because I need more. Also, just look at that fantastic cover! That dress is GORGEOUS!!!!!!! I’m a cover shopper- and this cover caught my eye and I immediately clicked on it. So bravo on the cover design! The cover, the plot, the characters, the book was fantastic! Ugh. I could gush about it for hours! The book hangover is real right now. There is so much I could say about this book but what it really boils down to is, I absolutely loved this book! I couldn't get enough!!! Make sure this book is on your preorder list because you'll need it in your life!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mjspice

    NOPE https://medium.com/@evesalexandria/th... Edit: Author's statement https://twitter.com/AmalieHoward/stat... NOPE https://medium.com/@evesalexandria/th... Edit: Author's statement https://twitter.com/AmalieHoward/stat...

  30. 4 out of 5

    DPanda

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Duke's Princess Bride had a couple of my favorite tropes – enemies to lovers and second chance loves all rolled into one. First the pros: Book had a good plot and characterizations as expected. It also had a sense of urgency and adventure due to Sarani’s circumstances and all. I liked our supporting characters as well. BUT While I appreciate that Sarani suffers through the very real grey area where one is neither brown enough nor white enough, I had some big problems with some lines. Referring The Duke's Princess Bride had a couple of my favorite tropes – enemies to lovers and second chance loves all rolled into one. First the pros: Book had a good plot and characterizations as expected. It also had a sense of urgency and adventure due to Sarani’s circumstances and all. I liked our supporting characters as well. BUT While I appreciate that Sarani suffers through the very real grey area where one is neither brown enough nor white enough, I had some big problems with some lines. Referring to “flawless” white skin or berating herself internally for not staying out of sun as to be less tanned, were examples of lines that made me feel exceedingly uncomfortable. And then we had the ML who implied he owned slaves? I mean it wasn’t said outrightly, but I wish it had been clarified properly that he did not own them. Ultimately, I struggle as to how grade this. I did enjoy most of the book but what I did not like I absolutely loathed. I have read far worse (interracial) historical romances but this is 2020 and we should aim to do better. Thanks NetGalley for the ARC

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