Fantasy and history collide in this first book of Melissa de la Cruz’s newest series. The Ring and the Crown opens on sassy Alewyn Myrddn, newly return to turn-of-the-century London from Avalon, where she was sent after her magic ran wild in the castle, for the Season. Trained and nearly an adult now, Alewyn comes to find her childhood home much changed—or is it?
Enter the crown princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne and only daughter of Queen Eleanor, who has maintained her rule over the Franco-British Empire for over 100 years. Her life has been magically extended by the Merlin—Alewyn’s father—but as it comes to a close, she pushes her daughter into the limelight, and a marriage she loathes. Marie is sickly but smart, not ugly but not even approaching the beauty of her friend magical friend Alewyn or the rest of the court’s young beauties. She is engaged to marry the golden boy of Prussia, Prince Leopold, who wielded dark magic during a battle with the Empire, winning a gruesome victory and forcing a peace treaty between the nations.
But will they and a cast of others twist the plans of scheming politicians? Leopold’s younger brother, Wolf, an impoverished American heiress, Ronan Astor, and Leopold’s slighted former fiancé Isabelle of Orleans all enter into the schemes of Marie and Alewyn to find happiness, either in love or power.
Fans of de la Cruz’s Blue Blood series will adore this new romp. While it’s heavier on characters than plot and (so far) makes poor use of magic, it’s a quick read that’ll keep you turning pages to see where this quintet will take you next. Kisses, lovers’ quarrels and frippery abound.
Reviewer's note: This tale does include mentions of sex and womanizing, so younger and more conservative readers should take heed before they read.