What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Melissa de la Cruz's The Ring & the Crown is a bodice ripper that will titillate young romance fans with lots of kissing and embracing and two explicit sex scenes. Blood is mentioned half a dozen times or so; other violence is confined to a few punches or slaps, but two climactic events involve a duel with pistols and a stabbing, without much descriptive detail other than blood. The older teens frequently drink alcohol, and though it seems as if they're of age in this alternative reality, it's pretty glamorized.
What's the story?
In order to preserve the empire, Princess Marie will have to marry Leopold, the Crown Prince of Prussia. But Marie's in love with her bodyguard Gill, so she enlists the help of childhood friend Aelwyn to escape the arranged marriage. Aelwyn's inherited the magical abilities and power of her father, Merlin, and agrees to use them to switch places with Marie. Much of the drama centers around the London social season's dazzling balls and glamorous dinner parties in anticipation of the royal wedding. Navigating these rough waters are Isabelle, descended from the overthrown French royal family and Leopold's lover, and Ronan, an American socialite who needs to marry into money in order to save her own family. On the verge of leaving the palace forever, Marie discovers a plot that could mean the end of the monarchy, and she'll have to decide between pursuing her own dreams and accepting the fate she was born into.
Is it any good?
With THE RING & THE CROWN, veteran author Melissa de la Cruz (Frozen: Heart of Dread, Book 1, Angels on Sunset Boulevard) presents light fare that will titillate and thrill kids who love romance, dazzling costumes, and courtly intrigue. Otherwise, there's not much on offer here. The narration alternates among the large cast of characters whose voices aren't very distinct and is sometimes confusing, although it gets easier to follow once the characters become more firmly established. It's unfortunate that de la Cruz's alternative timeline, with fantasy elements of Arthurian-based magic, and in spite of some powerful female characters, presents a world of such old-fashioned sexism in which "a wife's job was to placate her husband and learn to hold her tongue."
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why romances are so popular. Do they help us understand relationships, or do they create unrealistic expectations?
Young women in this world don't have many opportunities in life except to marry well. Do you think that was true in the real world in the early 1900s? How have opportunities for women changed over the years?
Characters use magic in lots of ways, from winning a battle to changing their appearance. What magical ability do you wish you had? How would you use it?