• Servant of the Crown

  • Crown of Tremontane Series, Book 1
  • By: Melissa McShane
  • Narrated by: Gemma Dawson
  • Length: 13 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (59 ratings)

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Servant of the Crown

By: Melissa McShane
Narrated by: Gemma Dawson
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Publisher's Summary

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?

©2015 Melissa McShane (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Strong female characterizations underscore the appeal of this novel; Queen Zara is more than just a figurehead, and Alison staunchly refuses to settle for less than both love and a successful career." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Servant of the Crown

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very high quality, strong plot, good characters

and really actually worth your time. I've become somewhat jaded with insipid romances over seven decades of reading, so it takes a lot to gain my attention, to keep me reading to the end, and for an author to earn my respect. This is my second Melissa McShane novel, and each has been strong, well written, deeply plotted, and had no filler. Both were filled with plot twists, deep character development, and an interesting society, monarchy, and subversive elements to satisfy a long time reader's desire for new mysteries and intricacy of plotting. I was very happy to note what was not in the book. There was no cheap filler, no one chance in a million disasters, no unexpected stabs in the back completely upsetting the plot progression. Instead, the author relied on actual strong well thought out plotting, and the development off common (even if despicable in some cases) personality types to play off against each other in her novel. The fact that the novel includes three very strong female characters added to the pleasure of the structure of the novel for me. The fact that one of the male characters went through the most profound emotional growth was also a glorious aspect of this author's plotting. I highly recommend this novel to you.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Very Flat

I enjoyed several of McShane's later books (the Extraordinaries series) and so decided to try this book. It is very obviously from earlier in her writing career and missing the depth and characterization that could make it an interesting read. Main character Alison is annoying, uptight, and reacts illogically and inappropriately to most situations. Her love interest Anthony is boring, bland, and feels like a construct than a person. The slightly magical Regency London is especially wasted; I am not even sure why she bothered setting it in that time period but as an AU.

Story: Alison longs to be loved for herself and not her beauty or money. All she wants to do is help her father with his bookseller business and continue her work as an editor, eschewing men altogether. When she is called upon to attend high society in the main city, she does so grudgingly. But as companion to an eccentric older noblewoman, she comes in contact with the women's misguided son and heir. Can the two find middle ground or is Anthony just another man who only looks at Alison's wealth or busom?

I think the above description gives an idea of the shallowness of the story. The plotting is simplistic, the characters dull and cardboard, and the setting far too close to Regency London to be interesting. There is supposed to be magic in the world but the only time we come across it in this first book in the series is a light healing spell. So I kept asking myself why bother with the magic at all or by creating an alternate universe that is pretty much 100% Regency London.

I admit, I disliked both characters. The motivations and personalities of both seemed very weak and lacking depth and definition. At no time did I ever believe that these were credible, logical or realistic people. They felt too much like a writer's construct - made up to create a contrived romance. Side plots about a poorly kept library was dropped in and then completely forgotten - no resolution at all despite the character feeling so strongly about the subject.

I listened to the audio version and the narrator was ok - I find her interpretations of the personalities off. E.g., Alison has strong thoughts but when she speaks, the narrator gave her a mousy/timid and tremulous voice that never felt right.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Could NOT stop listening.

Would you consider the audio edition of Servant of the Crown to be better than the print version?

Considering I got the second and third book at the library and was on a longer than I wanted to wait list to get this book, YES the audio was better than the print version. It is one of the rare occasions where I had to increase the speed of the narration. The narrator was in no rush to tell the tale (not neccessarily a bad thing) and I could still understand her accent at the 1.25 speed.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I don't have one favorite character. All were well written, and because I don't want to share spoilers, all I will say is their wasn't any fluff in McShane's details. Pay attention because it will be worth it.

What about Gemma Dawson’s performance did you like?

She did a decent job of even the men's voices and I really appreciated that.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was a little upset by a detailed seduction scene, but it was very important for many reasons. Sorry for that little spoiler.

Any additional comments?

I have a complete book hangover, but got so much work done because I just couldn't stop listening. Can't wait to get to the next two books in the series.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Very enjoyable

Excellent book the characters keep you involved in the story and the story is refreshing. Really enjoyed reading it.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Oh my gosh. I loved it.

Oh my gosh this was lovely and I had so many feels. I loved it so much more than I expected to- and it was nothing like I thought it would be.

But a few words of precaution- this is a historical fiction / romance and with the romance being the main focus until the second half (which I personally loved). The pacing is fairly slow (which I didn't mind - it totally worked for the story...) but if you're looking for something fast and magical, this book is not for you. It kind reminded me of Pride & Prejudice and some of the other historical romances though of course it is set in a fantasy world!

Basically Allison is summoned away to the palace to be a 'lady in waiting' for the queen's mother. At the first ball, she meets Prince Antony (the queen's brother and the dowager's son - aka playboy and embarrassment to the crown). Once introduced, the dowager insists he dance with Allison, not realizing her son is terribly drunk. Allison was raised to be very 'proper' and practical and though she admits he's quite handsome, she wants nothing to do with him. Regardless, they share a dance, in which the prince says something hilariously appalling to Allison - and Allison's reaction is priceless (I don't want to spoil.)

Anyway, in order to save face, Queen Zara forces Allison and Antony to spend time in the public together. Neither are happy about the agreement, and its a slow burn that works SO well. Allison starts to see the man beneath the mask. Oh my gosh... when things finally take off with them, I had so many feels. I can't even. Also, just a warning, things get a *little* steamy which I didn't expect... but everything was tastefully done.

Allison is such a frustrating MC which is my biggest complaint. She's so stubborn and pretty much has it out against all men - convinced that they only want her for sex. If one so much as looks at her the wrong way, she gets upset. She DOES start to come around though when she realizes Antony isn't really the nasty man he seems, until something awful happens (between them) and she flees the palace - swearing off men altogether. (I wanted to smack her at times.) But the character arc at the end was just... tearjerking. I can't even explain it.

After a few months, the Queen summons her again and offers her a proposition to stay and work in the library (promising she doesn't have to even see Antony after what happened between them.) UGHH this is where I got so frustrated. Antony changed entirely and was so noble it literally hurt my heart and Ally kept brushing him off. Lord this woman... I wanted to scream at her to open her eyes. Yeesh woman, I get that you were really hurt in the past but COME ON.

Anyway, a bunch of crap starts to happen and they are forced to work together and I won't say much more than that, but the ending was just wonderful and so emotional. Also I need to brag on Queen Zara who is literally a badass. I hear there's a novella about her and I'm all over that.

The more I think about it, the more I realize how much I really loved this. Part of it was obviously the emotional aspect, but I also really loved the environment. Pretty much the entire book is in a gorgeous palace with little trips outside to theaters/etc. There's plenty of balls, dancing, glittering dresses... you get the picture.

I also wanted to note that I listened to the audio the narrator was LOVELY. She was British and did the voices well. Definitely enhanced my experience.

I feel like this was Jane Austen meets Marie Rutkoski. I honestly can't wait to read more by this author.