Crowned is the conclusion to the main "arc" of Jennifer Chance's Gowns and Crowns series, though it seems like there is a spin-off fifth book, Cursed, in the works which will move the story away from the fictional Garronia and onto US soil. In the meantime, Crowned is about the last of four American friends visiting Garronia to not have been set up with a romantic interest: Fran. In the wake of the rescue of the amnesiac crown prince, Fran is pulled in to act as a sort of companion and to help him remember himself, which the queen thinks will happen because Fran is young and pretty and oh yeah, she's a graduate psychology student with her focus for the past year having been on soldiers with PTSD. It's this that really made me have serious reservations about this book--though there were other glaring problems, too--because a therapist having a relationship with a patient is a huge, huge no-no.
Now, Chance makes it very explicit throughout the book that Fran is not technically Ari's therapist...and yet she really is acting as one, and I feel like in this case it's the spirit of the thing rather than the letter of it that really made the big difference.
Chance has a knack for writing both steamy and sweet interactions, but her plots themselves really weakened as this series went on. For example, in this book, Ari eventually does start to regain his memories--I'm not going to get into that part of it, because I'm not really qualified to--and yet he has no problem that Fran, and all of his other friends and family, decided to keep his identity a secret and let him walk around Garronia like a nobody when pretty much everyone who saw him had at least some idea of who he was. He has no problems that Fran slept with him under, essentially, false pretexts. There's absolutely no questioning of any of her actions or why she kept any of the secrets she did; none of them are hugely harmful, and yet the very fact that she felt the need to do so, and had broken laws in the process of doing so for no good reason except that she felt like it, really seemed to have no effect on anyone. What? What is in the water in Garronia that the fact that their apparent future queen is a complete fake does not bother them? Is the royal family planning on perpetuating this lie for all eternity? Surely someday, someone would recognize Fran and go, "Hey, isn't that...?"
I think this series has made abundantly clear that plot is not Chance's strong point. The romantic interactions are right on-point, sweet when they need to be and steamy when you want them to be, but the plots that surround and hold up these romances are very weak and can really take away from the romance as a whole. I am still curious to read Cursed, whenever it comes out, but I had serious, serious reservations about this book, and I don't think it was a great end to the main series.
2.5 stars out of 5.