Review: Servant of the Crown

Posted: July 13, 2015 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: Melissa McShane, Fantasy, Books for Chicks

Alison Quinn has known her share of disappointments. Being rich, a countess, and beautiful means men only see her for what she can give them, and not for the talented woman she is. But who needs a man when she has an estate to run and works as an editor at her father’s printing business? Certainly she doesn’t need to work, but her passion for books and the printed word outweighs a life of leisure.

However, being a countess obligates her to the request of the Queen, and she is summoned for a six-month stint as a companion to the Dowager. Now Alison finds herself living the very life she was trying to avoid: dressing in gowns, embroidering, attending musical events, and even dancing at the occasional party. Dating a man is one thing, but that doesn’t mean Alison can’t enjoy a good dance. And who should ask her but the Crown Prince Anthony, who is definitely handsome…but also a notorious rake, whose unsavory comments cause a very public altercation. The Queen forces them to be seen together to prevent court gossip. But, surprisingly, Alison begins to think that Anthony may be the one to prove her wrong, and that all men aren’t the same.

One would think that’s where the story ends. But one would be wrong.

Okay guys, yeah this book is about kissing and falling in love and all that mushy stuff. I’m warning you now. Maybe check out THE BORDER (EBR Review) or CIBOLA BURN (EBR Review) while the ladies get their chance to swoon.

In SERVANT OF THE CROWN, Alison asks herself, who needs a man when she has an estate to run and works as an editor at her father's printing business?

If you enjoyed Melissa McShane’s recent THE SMOKE-SCENTED GIRL (EBR Review), then SERVANT OF THE CROWN starts a new series about our heroine Alison and her love troubles. Poor woman just can’t seem to find a man to love her for herself. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I will leave you with this: yes, the story is predictable, it is a romance, after all. But it’s still sweet and entertaining to read. McShane’s prose isn’t subtle, but she tells the story with an economy that allows you to appreciate the events as they happen without getting bogged down by all the peripheral stuff.

It’s easy to like Alison, even if she plays her tiny violin rather often. What would a love story be without a little melodrama? And I can’t help but root for the misunderstood Anthony, who only wants to be liked, but goes about everything all wrong. The characterization of the Queen was a little heavy-handed, but I liked the lovable Dowager, who rather reminded me of my late grandmother–who was sweet, but knew when to be firm. The rest of the cast is fairly large, but McShane handles them well enough that I never got confused.

Because the story revolves around the romance, politics, and books, we don’t see as much of the magic as we did in THE SMOKE-SCENTED GIRL. Magic is sidelined, which is too bad because we don’t learn much beyond that the devices were a mix of machines and magic. And that some people have inherent magic, like the doctor who can heal. Perhaps there will be more in the sequels. The setting is an alternate-London, without much to differentiate it, but I didn’t mind. I have other quibbles with issues such as the slightly verbose dialogue and how many times Alison goes running to the Queen to solve her problems.

But I won’t let that get in the way of a good love story.

  • Recommended Age: 17+
  • Language: Some minor instances
  • Violence: Some blood, but infrequent and not gory
  • Sex: References, innuendo, and a brief scene

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