The Princess Stakes contains several great love stories, and the book opens as one of them ends. We only get glimpses of a romance for the ages between a regal Indian maharaja and the English noblewoman who left everything behind to have a life by his side. We know they lived happily for a little while, but the happiness didn’t last. By the time we encounter the Maharaja of Joor, his beloved wife is dead, his authority has been drained away by the British and his precious daughter, Princess Sarani, has been forced into an engagement with the odious Lord Talbot. When the maharaja is betrayed and assassinated, Sarani must flee for her life.
And here’s where the book's grandest—and stormiest—love story starts, as Sarani’s desperate search for passage to her English family’s protection lands her on Rhystan Huntley’s ship. Rhystan, the Duke of Embry, despises Sarani for her duty-driven rejection of their love years earlier. Will sparks fly as the pair reunites? They will. Will the journey to England be fraught with tension, bickering and unrelenting desire? It will. And will Sarani's arrival in England create a tremendous splash when Rhystan—in a temporary deal that is intended to benefit them both—makes it known that they are engaged? Oh, it most definitely will.
There’s drama aplenty to be found in this romance, from disguised princesses to swashbuckling sailors to a highly publicized betting spree over which debutante will snag the handsome, eminently eligible Duke of Embry. Tempers run high, passions run hot and a mixture of greed, jealousy, prejudice and lust leads to more than one violent altercation from which Sarani and Rhystan must escape. The ton's small-mindedness and caustic disdain might make you wish that our hero and heroine would resort to violence themselves a little more often. (Trust me, some of those society folks have it coming.) But Sarani and Rhystan’s devotion to each other and to those dearest to them shines bright and fierce in contrast to the cowardly pettiness of those who try to undermine them. That love unites them against their foes and gives them the courage to push past their own fears and insecurities and embrace their happiness together.
Author Amalie Howard doesn’t shy away from showing the struggles a biracial character like Sarani would face, both in England and in India. Caught between two worlds, she’s viewed as not belonging enough to either to win true acceptance, but she finally finds the home she’s been searching for in Rhystan’s arms. Ultimately The Princess Stakes celebrates the power of love to win out again and again over hate: love for the person you trust to have your back; love for the family you are proud to claim; and love for yourself, exactly as you are.