The Ring and The Crown by Melissa de la Cruz
Page Length: 384 Pages
"Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?
Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world's only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.
But even with the aid of Emrys' magic, Eleanor's extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne.
But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen's Guard. Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie's face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she's always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she's always dreamed of--the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor's court: trust no one."
I stumbled across this book on Goodreads and thought the story sounded intriguing and interesting. I quickly bought the book and read it in a day. Despite the rating, I really did enjoy this light read. This ONE part totally ruined the book for me though.
I always love reading a good historical fiction novel. This book takes place in the beginning of the twentieth century, and Great Britain is still basically the British Empire only more powerful as it has also claimed France. The Franco-British Empire's greatest enemy is Prussia. The princess of the empire, Marie-Victoria, is arranged to marry the Prussia prince, Leopold, to forge an alliance. As the London season opens up (society & socializing time) and in preparation for the royal wedding and forming of the alliance, tons of drama and conspiracies and romance ensues. In this world there are also mages (wizards) who openly use magic. They're servants or the most powerful are the ones who rule (the power behind the crown). I really liked the drama and life of the aristocracy and politics of it all and stuff. This book was just loads of fun!
This being the first book of Melissa de la Cruz that I've read, I see that she is great at writing light-hearted, fluffy, entertaining stories that keep readers captivated from beginning to end. The writing is simple and easy to follow.
I loved the setting! De la Cruz was quite descriptive so I knew precisely what everything looked like! And it was also so luxurious and the opulence... *sigh*
There are so so many characters in this book. They are all interconnected too which makes things extra complicated. I liked a specific quality in each character, but disliked some other traits. These characters got on my nerves at some point.
Princess Marie-Victoria - The sickly princess doesn't want the crown. She is jealous of her best friend and mage who she views as someone who's "free" while she's shackled to the crown. She hates her betrothed, Leopold even though everyone else seems to love him. Marie just wants to run away and live a simple life with her longtime friend, new lover, and personal guard, Gill. Marie is so kind and gently and smart. She's great! I just hate how for most of the book all she's thinking of is her dream to run away with Gill. She doesn't even consider her country in her decision at all...
Aelwyn - This mage spends the whole book being super jealous of Marie, and it bugged the heck out of me. How about "be grateful for what you have?" She's infatuated with Prince Leopold too...
Ronan - The American comes to London in season to find a wealthy husband who will save her family from their financial troubles. I like her tenacity, but she whines and complains a bit too much. She turned down Wolf and then when she realizes he's rich she wants to get back together him and confesses her love! That's not right...
Wolf - I LOVE Wolf <3 He' so sweet and funny and handsome and adorable. I love how gentlemanly he is and how he's such a good person. As the second prince of Prussia it doesn't matter what he does; he just needs to stay alive in case anything happens to his elder brother.
Isabelle - I feel so bad for this poor girl. She's been taken advantage of way too many times. :( I like that she learned to say "no" but near the end of the book she succumbed to her despair and just gave up.
The Multiple POV:
The multiple points of view worked well because each character contributed to the whole storyline. Then again though, switching between FIVE points of view is a bit much. De la Cruz did a pretty good job of making the different POVs sound slightly different so I could immediately tell which POV I was reading from just by how it was written.
The book had a little bit of this:
Romance is a very big part of this book. I like that the romance isn't the main concern though. Each character knows that duties and obligations and other things are more important than the romance which I respect and admire. The romance in this book is all over the place. I saw someone created a chart of the relationships in this book XD It's so convoluted. Each romance is a bit different, each cute in their own way.
Gill & Marie - These two are pretty cute together although Gill can never be Marie's first priority. Country first.
Wolf & Ronan - These two balance each other out so well. Too bad their duties have kept them separated. I don't see a HEA with the two of them together, but I could be wrong :/
Aelwyn & Leopold - They had a moment on the dance floor and flirted a bit, but besides that it was just lust.
Isabelle - Poor child. She found love TWICE and either realized the sham or lost him. Tragic.
The Flirtations and Sexiness:
Everyone was going around having sex and giving up their V cards...
I HATED the falling action. De la Cruz basically explains everything all at once and the conclusion and reason of everything could NEVER be deduced by the reader. De la Cruz did a horrible job of spreading the details and clues throughout the story. She had an outlandish explanation, and it was just dumped on us. Aelwyn told Marie and ugh it was just horrible. That's where my opinion and rating of this book tanked. It was horrible.
While Aelwyn was explaining everything I just wanted to say:
Not great, not bad. There's no cliffhanger thank gosh! I really have no idea where this series is going...
If you're looking for an entertaining quick read with not much depth, this is the book for you. It's fun and light and sure to please.