The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne – Review
Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has 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 that 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 failing for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Titan Books.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
“I had no right to hold any claim on him, but my heart refused to be rational.”
I’m a huge Jane Austen fan so can be wary of retellings as they’re never going to live up to the originals (except the fantastic Clueless!). If done right though, a retelling can incorporate just enough of the original to add flavour but stay fresh enough to stand on its own. For me, The Stars We Steal is a great example of a book pulling this off. It had echoes of Persuasion but always remained firmly its own story. I loved spotting favourite moments like the iconic letter Wentworth wrote to Anne, and recognising familiar names.
“You’re exactly the same but completely different.”
Princess Leo was a fascinating main character and I became completely invested in her relationship with Elliot, a boy she rejected in the past for her family’s sake. I also appreciated that she was a larger woman (she’s not specifically called fat but other characters do comment on her curvy size). There were definitely references to The Bachelor with the engagement season and I became quickly addicted to the fast-paced plot and romantic entanglements. The cocky and kind Daniel was probably my favourite character and I’d love another book focusing on him in the future, hopefully finding some happiness.
“Elliot was mending our friendship. I was chasing dreams like starlight.”
I did find the insta-love between Carina and Ben hard to believe but Austen herself has some similar love stories. The space setting added a new dimension to the original plot and allowed the author to explore the themes of Persuasion whilst also accommodating timely issues relevant to the present day. Interweaved with the romance is a rebellion stemming from social injustice and overcrowding, a black market ship that steals from the rich to help the poor, and plenty of narrow escapes and misunderstandings. The Stars We Steal is a fun, witty and romantic romp through space, populated with engaging characters and a fast-paced plot.