Book #15: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz 

Rating: 4/5 
Plot- Confusing and unclear
Characters- Irritating 
Romance- A heart racer... LOVE TRIANGLES! 
Overall- Mediocre 
(Summary from goodreads) 
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 admit that after reading this book, I now have a different perspective on the life of the rich and the affluent. It's actually not as easy as you think because no matter what... decisions are made, and monarchies will fall. 
          This book focused mainly on a declining empire in a war with the empire of Prussia. Queen Eleanor suddenly declares a peace treaty among the Prussians, which results in giving up her daughter as a bride to the heir to the Prussia crown, Leopold. Princess Marie-Victoria and Leopold are forced to get married for the sake of their empires and their positions. Marie, who is in love with her servant/guard Gill, doesn't want to marry Leopold but like any other sad love story, she has no choice. On the other hand, Leopold will do whatever it takes to reclaim his country from a messed up war if it means casting aside his true love, The Isabelle of Orleans. Neither will truly be in love, but they have no choice. This whimsical love story takes place in a late Renaissance time period where monarchies are in everyone's favor.  And for the plot twist... Yes! There is a major major plot twist that I would love to share but unfortunately due to the no spoiler rule, I'm afraid you're going to have to read the book to find out. 
          Right off the bat, this plot reminded me of A Midsummer Night's Dream. You know, when Hermia was forced to marry Demetrius and yet, she was in love with Lysander. The love triangle in this book was slightly similar. Princess Marie was forced to marry Leopold (heir to the Prussia crown) for the sake of her kingdom and family. Although, Marie was not in love with Leopold; she was in love with Gill, who was the Queen's guard. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, the character Helena had fallen in love with Demetrius and therefore sought him when he ran for Hermia. Helena was indeed Hermia's best friend. The Isabelle of Orleans, daughter of the displaced French royal family, totally reminded me of Helena- the best friend swooning over the Hermia's groom to be. Even though she was cast aside by Leopold most of the time, she never stopped herself from crawling back into his arms. But there were also other supporting characters apart of the story. For instance we had Wolf (Wolfgang, Leopold's brother), Ronan Astor (a social-climbing American with only her dazzling beauty to recommend her), Aelwyn Myrddyn (aka Winnie, Marie's best friend), and Queen Eleanor the second (mother of Marie). 
          The plot itself was very disorganized and confusing. At times, I was simply infuriated by how enigmatic I was. Love triangles! They were the main outlet of this story: lovers chasing after one another. Believe it or not, I normally don't enjoy the presence of love triangles, but this book made it quite enjoyable. 
          All in all, I wouldn't recommend this book to people who get fussy when the girl ends up with the wrong guy. This was just a very confusing book to comprehend, in my opinion. But the plot was pretty amusing for someone of my taste, and I enjoyed reading about every single character. Considering the muss and fuss of the story being all over the place, I would blatantly give it a 4 star rating. Where did the fifth star go? I took away the five star because this book did not go beyond my expectations. 

Character Analysis: 
Princess Marie-Victoria- To me, she seemed like the main character of the story. I'm really not sure. Although she was an elegant princess, she did not make a good soldier. In the middle of the story, she was forced to choose between true love or a life of agony with a man she did not love. It was really disappointing to find out her decision throughout the end of the story. I would've thought that princesses fought for what they believed in. I guess I was just misunderstood.

Leopold- Princes are supposed to be honorable and humble, not sloppy and poised. Although he was forced to marry the princess Marie, he had no problem joining The Isabelle of Orleans in bed. In fact, he had probably done this to many women before in his lifetime, which was very sad and disheartening. I did not like his character.

Aelwyn Myrddyn- I respected her because she was totally loyal to her best friend, Marie. Aelwyn was a sorceress, which meant that she could indeed practice magic. Throughout the story, her magic was really handy. If you hadn't already read the synopsis, she is forced to switch places with Princess Marie out of friendship and loyalty. She casts a glamour spell that masked her face and made her look exactly like the Princess. I suppose both Marie and Aelwyn were a bit reckless at this time in the story.

Overall, this book did not exceed my expectations but it is totally worth reading. For all you romancey people out there, this is the book for you- Tainted love and whatnot. Thanks for sticking around for this review!

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