~ Book Review: Solomon’s Crown (ARC) ~

Published March 14, 2023

Author: Natasha Siegel

Two destined rivals fall desperately in love—but the fate of medieval Europe hangs in the balance.

“A pair of thrones between us, and my heart clutched like a rosary within his hands …”

Twelfth-century Europe. Newly-crowned King Philip of France is determined to restore his nation to its former empire and bring glory to his name. But when his greatest enemy, King Henry of England, threatens to end his reign before it can even begin, Philip is forced to make a precarious alliance with Henry’s volatile son—risking both his throne, and his heart.

Richard, Duke of Aquitaine, never thought he would be King. But when an unexpected tragedy makes him heir to England, he finally has an opportunity to overthrow the father he despises. At first, Philip is a useful tool in his quest for vengeance… until passion and politics collide, and Richard begins to question whether the crown is worth the cost.

When Philip and Richard find themselves staring down an impending war, they must choose between their desire for one another and their grand ambitions. Will their love prevail, if it calls to them from across the battlefield? Teeming with royal intrigue and betrayal, this epic romance reimagines two real-life kings ensnared by an impossible choice: Follow their hearts, or earn their place in history.

Solomon’s Crown is the debut novel for Natasha Siegel that portrays an alternate history exploring the complex relationship between King Richard the Lionheart of England and King Phillip of France. The characters themselves are based on the real figures along with their family ties, but the story and characteristics are all fictional. There are some bits of history where Philip is married to Isabella at the time, he meets Richard and then expands this into a fictional story. These types of stories are both amazing and difficult for me as I, as the reader, need to separate fact from fiction and not automatically attempt to complete the fictional story with reality. Unfortunately, I did somehow manage to re-watch “The Lion in Winter” right before reading by coincidence, so it did take me a bit to separate the two stories. The author did do a great job, though, of giving the story some originality, so it became easier to separate them.

Richard’s part of the story goes into his family drama while Phillip looks at his identity as a figurehead. One has been king for awhile while the other has moved up in power, so the two are at different places in their lives and going through different conflicts. Each worry about their legacies in their own way and it is interesting to see how the author interpreted each character. The romance between the two of them did progress faster than I thought, but I did enjoy the chemistry and banter between them. I do still wish it felt a little more natural as it seemed they jumped from one point to another in the development a little quickly.

With the timeline, there was a lot of telling versus showing. I understand the possible intention as there was a lot to cover in a short number of pages; however, I still missed experiencing everything myself. The author does a great job crafting the characters and political tension, so it will be interesting to see if she continues to write based on real historical figures or if she will write some original creations in the future. The writing is descriptive and there is great prose although I wished for it to be a little more immersive. Overall, this was a unique take on historical figures in its own fictional world. I enjoyed the author’s style and would read more from her in the future.

**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Dell, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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