Capture the Crown by: Jennifer Estep

Gemma Ripley has a reputation for being a pampered princess who is more interested in pretty gowns, sparkling jewelry, and other frivolous things than learning how to rule the kingdom of Andvari. But her carefully crafted persona is just an act to hide the fact that Gemma is a powerful mind magier–and a spy.

Gemma is undercover, trying to figure out who is stealing large amounts of tearstone from one of the Ripley royal mines when she encounters Prince Leonidas Morricone of Morta–her mortal enemy. Gemma tries to steer clear of the handsome prince, but when she finds herself behind enemy lines, she reluctantly joins forces with Leo. Also coming to Gemma’s aid is Grimley, her beloved gargoyle.

Despite the fact that Andvari and Morta are old, bitter enemies, a dangerous attraction sparks between Gemma and Leo. Further complicating matters is Leo’s murderous family, especially Queen Maeven Morricone, the mastermind behind the infamous Seven Spire massacre.

The closer Gemma gets to the stolen tearstone, the more deadly plots she uncovers. Everyone is trying to capture the crown, but only one queen can sit on the throne …

My original ARC Review

Photo by Felix Mittermeier from Pexels

Content Warning: witnessing the massacre of a family, sexual harassment, anxiety, PTSD, overwhelming guilt, torture [talked about and detailed on-page], child abuse/torture.

Photo by Min An from Pexels

I originally read this as an ARC ahead of its release last year. After binging through the CROWN OF SHARDS trilogy [KILL THE QUEEN, PROTECT THE PRINCE, and CRUSH THE KING] in late 2020 I was so excited to see a spin-off take place, as I wasn’t ready yet to leave this magical world. If you’d like to read my original review I have it linked above.

As I’m about to read the ARC of book 2, TEAR DOWN THE THRONE, I thought it was the perfect time for a re-immersion into this fantastic realm. Let me tell you the re-read did not disappoint. After finishing I’m even more in love than my first read and am so excited to be cracking open the ARC of book 2!

In CAPTURE THE CROWN we meet a grown-up Gemma Ripley, who was one of the few survivors of the Seven Spire massacre. At the age of twelve, she witnessed the slaughter of countless people and felt helpless to stop it. Almost sixteen years later Gemma has devoted her life to making sure she always protects her family and people. Though she’s taken on the persona of a vapid princess, who only cares about fashion and parties, those that truly know her, know that she works hard to find any, and all, potential threats to her kingdom…even if that means donning disguises and being a spy.

When tearstone starts disappearing from the mines, Gemma isn’t afraid to jump into some coveralls and work the mines, until she can find any ideas of where the tearstones are going. Alert for the potential danger, she wasn’t prepared to run into Leonidas Morricone, Prince Leonidas Morricone of Morta. Although they’re meant to be enemies, as their families are sworn enemies, Gemma struggles to deny the spark of attraction, and kinship, she feels for him.

Although all grown up Gemma is always worried that she, or her powers, will endanger those she cares about or that she’ll freeze up when they need her most. I love this book so much, especially as I noticed more things during my re-read. The way Estep portrays both Gemma’s strong/fierce/loyal side while also showing her insecurities and battles with PTSD and survivor’s guilt. And though we only see the story through Gemma’s perspective we’re still able to see the complexities of so many characters.

I highly recommend checking out this story of finding your strength and learning to let go of, and work through, guilt and pain. Gemma is a survivor and she’s much stronger than she, or anyone else around her, realizes. I’m so happy I decided to re-read this before jumping into book two!

Published by Noelle Loves Books

Growing up, Japanese and Indigenous, it was hard to find books that showcased stories and worlds that accurately portrayed Noelle’s experiences. Fantasy quickly became her main love, as you could really be anyone, anywhere. As the years went on, and technology grew, Noelle was finally able to see more stories and authors that looked and felt like her. Noelle is open to all genre’s though she can mostly be found reading own voice, fantasy, and romance. Ratings: 5 Stars: Completely blew me away 4 Stars: Loved the story but didn't feel completely blown away by it 3 Stars: Liked the overall concept of the story but either had poor execution, had a lot of plot holes, or was written poorly 2 Stars: I struggled to understand the plot, poorly written, or just had really unlikeable characters along with a poor writing 1 Star: Horribly written, major plot holes, or extremely unlikeable characters and plots.

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