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Bookbed reviews ‘The Queen’s Game’ by Carla de Guzman

BY KB MENIADO

THE STORY

There are only two reasons why Nina would come back home to Cincamarre–one, if Auntie Delia promises to stop butting into her business, two, if her father died and she was made to ascend the throne to be queen. 

Unfortunately for her, it was the second thing that brought her home. 

As a princess who’s sunk a yacht and been caught kissing popstars, it’s easy for her aunt, the regent, to think she’s ill prepared for the throne. But Nina doesn’t think that having to fake date Felipe, the handsome, squeaky clean Prince of Concordia was the best solution for that. 

Nina’s ready to learn the ropes of her new role and make it hers, and reconnecting with Felipe only makes her want to be a better queen. But is the monarchy ready for Queen Nina? Get a copy: Amazon / Read reviews: Goodreads

Royal romance is wildly fascinating, more so when it’s something that’s happening right now. And that’s what Carla de Guzman‘s new book, The Queen’s Game, is all about—a contemporary royal romance set in one of the most beautiful Philippine provinces, and contrary to what the title proposes, this does not play around. Let’s get to it!

WHAT I LIKED (Or! FIVE THINGS TO ENJOY)

1. The Kingdom of Cincamarre

When I said “one of the most beautiful Philippine provinces”, I meant that Nina’s kingdom, Cincamarre, is said to be inspired by *drum rolls, please* Batanes, and I’m pleased to report that it delivers, and then adds some more. The book’s descriptions of the kingdom are solid and vivid, and I loved that because in stories like this, establishing the setting is just as major as the plot. So if you want to travel to Basco by paper, this is the way to go. Bonus are the magical lanzones plantations and sunflower farms!

“From the clouds, the island nation of Cincamarre looked small, and it was. They prided themselves in their smallness, their fantastic rolling hills, and breathtaking views. There was a famous saying that any window that looked out of Cincamarre had the view of the sea with it..”

2. Game of Throneslike drama

I may be exaggerating here, but I loved the royal family dynamics here (or so what’s left of the family)! There’s the kind, funny uncle in Tito Ernie, Lord of Alapad, and on the opposite, there’s evil Tita Delia, named regent by the late king. (LET ME JUST SAY, THOUGH, that there are no Lannister Twins ties going on between them, and thank God, because I just can’t with incest, call me prude and all). It was simply satisfying to have that clear ally and villain in the story, somehow like watching a Disney movie.

3. No condom, no sex policy

Have I introduced Felipe yet? Spaceman, farm dork, Prince of Concordia—by far the best leading man to come out of the author’s books, at least in my opinion. Why am I suddenly bringing him into this? Because with a guy as hot as him, it would be easy for Nina to temporarily abandon all sense and just go with it. Thank you for upholding the concept of fun, safe and consensual sex,

“They didn’t have condoms on hand, and actual sex was immediately off the table. But there were other ways.”

and for putting this truth out there.

“Nina still remembered the day she first came to the stunning conclusion that sex could be fun and hot. It didn’t have to be shameful and ugly, and if you kept your wits about you, [it] didn’t need to be too complicated.”

(That also goes to the rest of the #romanceclass books.)

4. Korona heist

Familiar with this scene?

I was expecting some Entrapment-ish scenes to grace the next chapters because of this planned korona (crown) heist (WHY AREN’T YOU ONE-CLICKING THIS BOOK ON AMAZON YET?) but unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Something that’s quite the opposite did, and it was pretty exciting because it was very Nina, which means consistent and convincing.

(Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.)

“Without any further ado, Nina picked up a nearby metal chair and threw it at the base of the glass, making it shatter into thousands of pieces, leaving the crown free for the taking.

 

All the noise in the room suddenly feel into a hush of silence for one second before everyone panicked. The staff were quick, suddenly announcing for all the guests to make their way to the emergency exits. The nearby staff members very calmly asked the people holding up their phones to leave the dome like it was an everyday occurrence, and not the princess doing the most batshit crazy thing the history of Cincamarre.”

5. Royally handwritten~

This item was supposed to say ‘the royal romance, of course’ but come on, get the book to find out for your self.

Okay! I can’t help it. Allow me to share my most favorite thing in the book as the last persuasion: handwritten letters. These should forever be in style. Here’s one from Felipe to Nina:

(Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.)

“I miss you. It’s a simple fact that when we’re apart, the sunflowers look a lot less bright. I start to wonder if it’s because you’re not there. You’ve become a part of this land, and I will never see these sunflowers without thinking of you. When we started out, I thought this would be the longest three months of my life. I thought I would be counting down the days until I can let you go. But now I want to stop time when I’m with you. I can hear you laughing, but it’s all moving too fast, and I miss you. We should do something about that, shouldn’t we?”

If this melted Nina’s heart—“I’m a flight risk, I dress inappropriately, and I’m ten scandals waiting to happen.”—then likely, yours, too.

HOWEVER

(Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.)

Not really about the story per se, but there’s this part that really got to me, and its impact was a little too powerful that I wished the author wrote historical romance instead.

“In Cincamarre, the power is held by the house that holds the Sapphire Crown. The locals call it the korona.” His mother explained in a hushed tone, like she was afraid the crown was going to hear her. “Technically, the Mercados are only in power because they have the crown in their possession, and have kept it that way for the last hundred years. Kill them or steal it, and you rule the country.”
“Sounds primitive.” He crinkled his nose in distaste.
“It’s history.” Mimi pointed out as the dignitaries and royals finished their entrance. “Of course they put in laws and own most of the land in Cincamarre, so it’s theirs either way, but the korona still has its power. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s all there. That crown is how they reclaimed the islands from Spain.””

I mean, I did mention GoT, right. Who knows…

tl;dr

A prodigal daughter comes home to claim her crown, and along the way, she finds second chances at life and in love—this is The Queen’s Game by Carla de Guzman. It’s brave, creative and original. One of my favorite reads this year. ☁

The reviewer signed up for an ARC through the author. Read more here.
Add this to your #BookbedReadsPHLit challenge or #BuwanNgAkdangPinoy reads!
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