Stealing Thunder by Alina Boyden (Stealing Thunder #1)

In a different life, under a different name, Razia Khan was raised to be the Crown Prince of Nizam, the most powerful kingdom in Daryastan. Born with the soul of a woman, she ran away at a young age to escape her father's hatred and live life true to herself.

Amongst the hijras of Bikampur, Razia finds sisterhood and discovers a new purpose in life. By day she's one of her dera's finest dancers, and by night its most profitable thief. But when her latest target leads her to cross paths with Arjun Agnivansha, Prince of Bikampur, it is she who has something stolen.

An immediate connection with the prince changes Razia's life forever, and she finds herself embroiled in a dangerous political war. The stakes are greater than any heist she's ever performed. When the battle brings her face to face with her father, Razia has the chance to reclaim everything she lost...and save her prince.

TITLE: Stealing Thunder
AUTHOR: Alina Boyden
PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House
YEAR: 2020
LENGTH: 368 pages (12 hours 32 minutes)
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy, Romance

Partial Queer Rep Summary: Trans Main Character(s).

DNF 3 hours 51 minutes (31%).

The more I realized what was happening in the plot, the less I liked it. First, the things I liked: Razia has a consistent manner of referring to her past as a prince, and a confident way of presenting herself now as a hirja. Trans identity is complicated, and reading a story starring someone in another culture with an experience I partially recognize is nice.

I love heist books and was hoping to love this too. But I find myself realizing that part of what I love about heist stories is someone enthusiastically using their wits to accomplish something difficult and dangerous. Razia is stealing on behalf of someone whom she eventually realizes is exploiting her, and she doesn’t want to do it. She recognizes that now that she has a patron there’s no reason to steal, and it’s actually a terrible idea. She doesn’t want to do it, and I don’t want to read it. Also, it’s hard to feel good about the romance plot when she’s a child being sexually exploited as a courtesan, and the romance is with an adult (at least as far as I can tell) who starts out as a client.

Graphic/Explicit CW for transphobia.

Moderate CW for sexual content, adult/minor relationship, misgendering, deadnaming, sexism, misogyny, alcohol, violence.

Minor CW for ableist language, death.

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