Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Solomon's Crown by Natasha Siegel
Published by Dell on March 14, 2023
Genres: Historical Romance
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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.
A real life royal rivalry at the center of a fictionalized alt-history gay enemies to lovers romance in twelfth century Europe is an enticing draw to Solomon’s Crown. When I was offered the chance to read this one, I didn’t take long to think about it.
Phillip of France and Richard the Lion-hearted of England square off with old national rivalries, conflicting and complicated family connections, and a star-crossed affair that rose in secrecy and grew as the years went by and both came into their own.
I love historical fiction and don’t read it as often as I used to. I’m not one who minds when an author takes liberties with a real setting and real people under the right conditions. Those who know me are aware I like a good variation that asks ‘what if’. In this case, the author asks what if two powerful rival kings were to fall for each other. How would it arise? How would it all go down?
With the way the author filled in the historical backdrop and the tone that felt just right for such a genre undertaking, the way she built up the backstory and progression of Phillip and Richard’s lives in alternating points of view from their first forays as always enemies, but sometimes potential allies against Richard’s father Henry, I was in sync with her fascinating pair of lovers and their story.
I appreciated the story of Richard and Phillip as a whole, the development from enemies to lovers went rapidly. I loved Richard’s robust personality that seemed confident and ‘storm the castle’ on the outside with uncertainty and frustration on the inside set beside Phillip’s physically awkward and less confident outside that concealed the plotting, deep feeling and thinking man within. They saw each other’s strengths and flaws and, in the early times were as likely to exploit as protect. There were scenes that drew me in, but there were times I felt it was a passive story in the telling. Sometimes the court intrigue and machinations was dominant and at times the romance.
So, I loved it for the most part. I think the historical work that went into it was stellar. I had no trouble seeing the 12th century in this. I was captivated by the complex relationship of these two rules. This is for those who like the old-style historical fiction, but appreciate alt-history and variations, too.
I read this one too. It was a bit difficult for me to get into, but once it got going I really enjoyed the story
I admit that I was sort of waiting for something to happen often when it seemed to get more passive. I guess I was in the mood for slow and introspective so it worked for me at the time. 🙂
The historical elements of this story sound wonderful, properly developed! Glad you had a blast with it, Sophia! Thanks for sharing and cool blog! 😀
Thanks, Lashaan! That ability to write the historical setting so I can see it clearly when I read is one of my big needs in an historical.
I’ll pass on the compliment. 🙂
I really like the sound of this one and considered it but knew that I just wouldn’t be able to get to it in time. Great review!
I suffer that anguish frequently. 🙂
I just read another review for this on Wendy’s blog. Nice to hear you both enjoyed it. I don’t read books set in this time period often but it does sound interesting.
I don’t read as many as I used to, but the situation had my curiosity roused. It turned out pretty good.
What a cool take!
Oh yeah! I couldn’t pass it up. 🙂
Like you I enjoy when an author might put a little spin on the history but includes the real stuff too. It makes me then have to go research to find out what was real and what wasn’t. Great review, and I love the cover on this one too!
Yeah, it worked for me because I knew up front that she was doing a variation and there were plenty of notes explaining before and after. It’s not a heavy hitter, but I enjoyed what she did with these two kings.