#BookReview by @LRWLee of Agent of the Crown

AgentoftheCrownWho do I want to be? This is the central question of the well-written Agent of the Crown (The Crown of Tremontane Book 3) by Melissa McShane.

SUMMARY (from back): Telaine North Hunter, Princess of Tremontane, is beautiful, spoiled, flirtatious, and the center of fashionable society throughout Tremontane.

She’s also a spy.

As an agent of the Crown, Telaine uses her high society connections to gather information for her uncle, King Jeffrey. But when an overheard conversation reveals a sinister plot centered on the Baron of Steepridge, Telaine must pose as a common Deviser in the distant frontier town of Longbourne to uncover the truth.

Fresh from her glittering world of the palace, Telaine is completely unprepared for rural life. She must conceal her identity not only from the townspeople, but from the suspicious, corrupt Baron as well. Her only assistance comes from Mistress Weaver, a local woman with an agenda of her own, and Ben, the handsome young blacksmith who reaches out a hand of friendship when others turn away.

As the days pass with no success in sight, Telaine’s pretense becomes real, and her growing attachment to Longbourne and its people comes into conflict with her mission. She can’t keep up the lie forever, but when the truth comes out, will she face it as the Princess—or as an agent of the Crown?

WHAT I THOUGHT: I enjoyed the previous two books in this series. They were thought-filled, inspiring, and romantic  and book three lives up to that same standard. While the cast of characters changes slightly, focusing this time on Telaine North Hunter, niece of King Jeffrey, there were many carryovers from the first two books to keep continuity.

As with the first two books, McShane weaves in a fundamental question we all ask of ourselves, who do I want to be? Telaine is a spy and as such acts in two roles, Princess and Devisor (an inventor of mechanical/repairer of “things”).  And her covers have her confused as to who she really is–a Princess who could not be more superficial or a Devisor who, for the first time in her life, is coming to understand and appreciate the down-to-earth people of Longbourne.

Telaine begins as a pampered young woman of the court who uses people for information. She is sent to the podunk little town of Longbourne where she initially wrestles with being rejected by the townspeople, wanting to fit in so she can accomplish her mission (or so she tells herself)–despite the fact that she knows she will not be in town after her mission ends. She acknowledges this oddity, but as she begins to fit in with the townspeople, she starts to appreciate their down-to-earth-ness, everything she hasn’t been at court. So begins her conflict of wrestling with who she is but more importantly, who she most wants to spend the rest of her life being.

McShane continues to build out the world of Tremontaine and we see more of the little town of Longbourne where Exile of the Crown, the novella bridge between book one and book two in the series takes place. We experience the toughness/closed-ness of the townsfolk but get a much more in-depth look at what binds them together…trust and love, as the book unfolds.

We see another glimpse of Zara North, former queen of Tremontaine, who, because of her magic she cannot die, has taken up residence in Longbourne. “Aunt Weaver” as she is known by Telaine, has settled in to a place that could not be more different than the palace as well. And her love of and loyalty to the townsfolk has her pressing the young spy about her true intentions.

I loved Ben Garrett. What a sweet, but introverted guy. He is a great foil against which Telaine has to finally come to grips with the life she really wants. And when he comes after her, to the palace of all intimidating places, out if his love for her, I was cheering!

Overall, a fitting conclusion to The Crown of Tremontane series. I will definitely be looking for McShane’s next book 🙂

I give this 5 stars!

Buy Agent of the Crown at Amazon

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Review by YA fantasy author L. R. W. Lee
Website: LRWLee.com
Twitter: @lrwlee
FB: LRWLee Author
Blog: blog.LRWLee.com

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the award winning Prequel and Book one in the Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series.

#BookReview by @LRWLee of Rider of the Crown

RideroftheCrown I have a wonderful book hangover after reading this thought-filled, inspiring, and romantic tale: Rider of the Crown (Crown of Tremontaine Book Two) by Melissa McShane.

SUMMARY (from back): Imogen, warrior of the Kirkellan tribes, has never wanted to be anything else. But when the long war between the Kirkellan and the country of Ruskald ends, the terms of the peace treaty require Imogen to be married to the vicious King of Ruskald for five years. Confined to his freezing city, forbidden to fight, Imogen sees nothing but darkness in her future—until the arrival of Elspeth North, heir to the Crown of Tremontane, brings three countries to the brink of war and sets Imogen free.

Now, sent to be the ambassador of her people to Tremontane, Imogen faces new challenges as she struggles to maintain her warrior’s identity in a world of glittering ballrooms and foreign customs. As a diplomat, Imogen discovers skills she never knew she had—as well as a forbidden attraction to the handsome and charismatic King Jeffrey North. But when war once again threatens not only Tremontane but her own people, Imogen must decide: is she the warrior, the diplomat—or something greater?

WHAT I THOUGHT: Rider of the Crown picks up about twenty years after Servant of the Crown (The Crown of Tremontaine Book One) and includes only cameos of Allison North, the Royal Librarian, that I came to love. I was a bit disappointed initially that this book did not add the next installment of the Royal Librarian’s adventures, but it was nice to see a slice of Tremontaine from other character’s perspectives.

By this time in the story, King Anthony and Allison have had two children, Jeffrey and Elspeth, and Anthony has died, making Jeffrey an unmarried and very eligible King. I won’t go into what all happens for you can read that yourself, but I loved the theme the author weaves throughout the book: who am I really? Am I what I’m good at? Am I what I am passionate about? Am I who I love or who loves me? Something else, or all of the above?

We follow the strong heroine, Imogen, through three phases of her life during which she keeps asking herself this question. The first phase is living as “wife” to an enemy for five years as part of a peace treaty her mother signs as ruler of Kirkellan. She finds herself, a Kirkellan warrior, among the enemy who despise her and her people and she wonders how she will endure for five years in that hostile environment with an arrogant, power-hungry ruler for a husband, temporary though it may be. She grows and learns about herself over a year until the ruler makes a choice that betrays the ethics she believes in and she annuls the peace treaty to stand for what she believes is right.

The second phase of the story, and her life, is as an ambassador of Kirkellan to Tremontaine at the request of her mother. In this foreign nation, she encouters all manner of different cultural norms and must learn how to become an ambassador, moving effectively with norms and practices not her own, all the while holding to who she believes she is, a Kirkellan warrior. She learns and grows through the experience and comes to meet the King who she falls in love with. Nothing like love to tempt one throw away what they care about. But she stays true to herself until…

In part three, Tremontaine finds itself at war with the country who Imogen was initially wed to, and she sheds her ambassador status to retake her Kirkellian warrior heritage to lead her warriors and those of Tremontaine into battle. Clearly a good leader of soldiers, Imogen must, in the end, come to grips with whether pursuing love or the path she had always envisioned, will be her future.

As an author, I appreciate a well-crafted, engaging storyline. And this one lives up to that and adds more by challenging the reader to ask the question of ourselves…Who am I really? I give this book 5 stars.

Get Rider of the Crown (Crown of Tremontaine Book Two) from Amazon

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Review by YA fantasy author L. R. W. Lee
Website: LRWLee.com
Twitter: @lrwlee
FB: LRWLee Author
Blog: blog.LRWLee.com

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the award winning Prequel and Book one in the Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series.

#BookReview by @LRWLee of Servant of the Crown

ServantoftheCrownIf you loved Seraphina for the fantasy mixed with political intrigue, I recommend Servant of the Crown by Melissa McShane (The Crown of Tremontane Book 1)! While there are no dragons, the mix of a strong heroine, dynamic characters, and excellent writing is sure to satisfy.

SUMMARY from Back: Alison Quinn, Countess of Waxwold, is content with her bookish life—until she’s summoned to be a lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Tremontane’s mother for six months. Even the prospect of access to the Royal Library doesn’t seem enough to make up for her sacrifice, but Alison is prepared to do her service to the Crown. What she’s not prepared for is Prince Anthony North, Queen Zara’s playboy brother, who’s accustomed to getting what he wants—including the Countess of Waxwold.

When the fallout from an unfortunate public encounter throws the two of them together, Alison has no interest in becoming the Prince’s next conquest. But as the weeks pass, Alison discovers there’s more to Anthony than she—or he—realized, and their dislike becomes friendship, and then something more—until disaster drives Alison away, swearing never to return.

Then Alison is summoned by the Queen again, this time to serve as Royal Librarian. A threat to Tremontane’s government, with her treasured Library at stake, draws Alison into the conflict…and into contact with Anthony once more. Can they work together to save the Royal Library and Tremontane? And can she open her heart to love again?

WHAT I THOUGHT: Allison Quinn, Countess of Waxwold, is a smart, savvy business woman, working for her father’s publishing house. When she is summoned to be a lady in waiting for the Dowager (mother of the queen) for six months, loyal citizen that she is, she presents herself for duty. But it doesn’t take long to see her true bookworm-self revealed, for true to form, she insists on seeing the Royal Library and is frustrated by the Librarian who refuses to permit it–heresy!

Men had treated her as an object to possess rather than recognizing who she was so when she encounters the prince, Anthony, an arrogant chovanist, she dresses him down publically leading to all manner of wonderful plot twist.

I so enjoyed her enthusiasm when she is appointed Royal Librarian. Be still my heart (LOL!). But I knew we were in for a treat when by a third of the way through the book, Allison had already fallen in love and betrayal reared its ugly head.

The queen, Zara, daughter of the Dowager and sister of prince Anthony appears as another strong female character with political obstacles she must navigate to retain the power necessary for the crown to effectively manage society. I was impressed that the author fully developed her allowing us to see the complex struggles force and giving in to frustration would thwart.

What a sweet interplay between these three. A masterful job of weaving in so many emotional threads and giving the reader a satisfying conclusion.

The only thing not well developed in my opinion was the healing magic that society apparently shunned. This came more into play with the short story that followed the novel, but that detail was never expanded upon and it appears it becomes a significant plot element, at least going forward.

I recommend the sequel, RIDER OF THE CROWN!

Get Servant of the Crown (at Amazon)

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Review by YA fantasy author L. R. W. Lee
Website: LRWLee.com
Twitter: @lrwlee
FB: LRWLee Author
Blog: blog.LRWLee.com

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the award winning Prequel and Book one in the Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series.