The Stars We Steal (ARC) by Alexa Donne

Set to release in North America on February 4th, 2020, The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne is a gripping Science Fiction story about a young girl caught in a world of royal intrigue and lost love in her quest to save her family from ruin. Fans of Katharine McGee and Kiera Cass will be dazzled by this epic space romance that is sure to appeal to all ages of YA readers.

DISCLAIMER: Thank-you to Raincoast Books for providing me with an Advance Readers’ Edition of The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne, in exchange for an honest review.

Engagement season is in the air. Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, has only one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin? But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love, Elliot, returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one who got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself falling for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.

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The Stars We Steal was marketed as “the Bachelorette goes to space” and “perfect for fans of Katharine McGee and Kiera Cass”, which had many older YA readers nervous to pick this one up, fearing it to be too juvenile and frilly. Fear not though, readers, for Donne has created a space romance that will appeal to YA Romance readers of all ages, striking an intricate balance between an enemies-to-lovers romance, political intrigue, and familial drama. Throw in a stoic and down-to-earth protagonist, and an endearing cast of supporting characters, and it’s hard to put The Stars We Steal down!

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The Stars We Steal introduces the reader to a significant cast of characters quite quickly (and given the nature of the story, this ought to have been expected), but only a handful of these characters end up having significance to the overarching narrative – namely, Princess Leonie (Leo) Kolburg, her sister Carina, her cousin Klara, her former lover Elliot, and his crew-mate Evgenia. Leo is the undeniable star of this novel – she’s smart, she’s confident, and most importantly, she’s not willing to settle for a man when she knows she can save her family from ruination with her own hands. Her determination and down-to-earth sensibilities will have readers falling head-over-heels in love with her character. By comparison, her familial counterparts – her naive sister Carina, and pretentious cousin Klara – will take longer for readers to warm to, but both are equally inspiring women in their own way. Elliot remains an enigma for most of the plot, with his motives hidden behind clandestine plans and thinly veiled emotions, but Donne’s roguish bad-boy character is exactly what this story needed to counter-balance Leo’s stoic nature. Finally, Evgania is a bubbly, fun-loving addition to the cast of characters, whose outgoing nature relieves tension at the right moments, and serves as an important foil for Leo’s journey.

“I was a commodity in a pretty dress, on display for all to see.” – Alexa Donne, The Stars We Steal

At its heart, The Stars We Steal follows the progression of the engagement season and its many events, intricacies, and negotiations, but the Bachelorette-esque setting/story is truly only providing a structured framework for the goings-on behind the scenes – the forbidden romances, clandestine operations, and political plotting. Which, to be quite honest, works wonderfully. The reader always feels a steady progression forwards, towards the inevitable conclusion of the engagement season (an engagement ball, of all things), but is able to follow Leo and the rest of the characters through their other activities simultaneously – activities which provide the true fodder for Donne’s grand reveal and epic conclusion. As far as plot devices go, this type of writing is relatively straight forward and simplistic, but with the amount of information and intrigue that Donne packs into The Stars We Steal, readers will finish the story feeling like it was anything but.

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Overall, The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne acheives an intricate balance between being an enemies-to-lovers romance, political intrigue, and familial drama, despite it’s relatively simplistic plot structure. Leo is an undeniable, down-to-earth protagonist, and her family, Elliot, and his crew make for a compelling cast of supporting characters that add to the novel in so many ways. Truly, readers will find that it’s hard to put The Stars We Steal down!

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

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