Title: A FOREIGN CROWN
Series: ROYAL REGENCY #1
Author: JEN GEIGLE JOHNSON
Publication Date: AUGUST 3, 2020
Following a devastating series of misfortunes, Lady Aribella Bardsley has bravely shouldered the responsibilities of her household. But just as the bleakness of her situation threatens to overwhelm her, a summon arrives from the Queen with a providential offer: Aribella’s presence is requested as a lady-in-waiting at the palace.
Prince Layton Wilhelm’s family has clung to their neutrality in the war for far too long. As the youngest of the King of Oldenburg’s eight sons, Layton is determined to prove his worth and is unwilling to turn a blind eye to Napoleon’s encroaching privateers. When Layton embarks on a journey to England, it is for one purpose: to petition the British navy for aid. But when he becomes acquainted with the lovely Lady Aribella, he cannot deny their powerful connection. Amid the intrigues and schemes within the walls of the palace, Layton and Aribella know a future together is impossible—but torn between loyalty and love, will they risk everything to follow their hearts?
It was so good to be reading a Historical/Regency Romance again. Well, let me just say this…I loved this book so much that I don’t think there is enough words to describe how much I really loved it.
A prince to secure an alliance with the royal family.
A duchess to help the royal family in their crisis.
Both have duties that make it hard for them to fall in love.
This story was beautifully-written. The words and the dialogues are all so lovely to read that it made me feel like I was reading Classics. I fell in love with the story and the characters so fast that I can’t think a single bad thing about this book. Honestly, there wasn’t any bad things about it because it was all good.
I liked how the story was written. We’ve got a scene on why Layton had to go to England to secure an alliance, and then a scene where Aribella was summoned to the palace by the Queen and what was the reason behind it. These scenes were written so smoothly and it does help in explaining how Layton and Aribella meet. When they first laid their eyes on each other, it felt like magic. It felt like the universe finally set them both on the right path.
Aside from that, I also liked that the author included some important scenes such as: Layton’s army battling the pirates, the meeting between Layton and the royal family and the other respectable leaders, Layton’s discussion with his own family regarding the pirates, Aribella stepping up to represent the Queen in the meeting etc. I can list a lot of important scenes but those are the only ones I can think about in the moment. That was a good move on the author’s part to write those scenes and not focusing too much on the romance plot. Everything was perfectly balanced and I really liked it a lot that way.
The only part I’m struggling with is securing an alliance through a marriage. I understood why it was so important to do it that way and I’ve read it in a lot of Historical/Regency books before, so this wasn’t really surprising to me. Still, I struggled a lot reading that part because it brought a bit of complication into Layton and Aribella’s relationship. I was thinking how will they get themselves out of it because they were both promised to marry other people that aren’t their own choosing.
Prince Layton had to marry either Princess Mary or Princess Elizabeth if he really wanted the help and to secure an alliance. Meanwhile, Lady Aribella had to marry a Duke if she really wanted to safe her family’s estate. My head was spinning and I was silently hoping that they will eventually find a solution to solve their own problems without having to marry the person they doesn’t want to marry. It wasn’t just me as a reader who struggled with this part, even Layton and Aribella was struggling too.
Layton is the youngest Prince of Oldenburg who is in charge of his country’s sea force aka the NAVY. He encountered multiple ships of pirates in the start of the story, so I get why he needed help from the royal family of England. Despite being the youngest prince and also the youngest in the royal court, nobody treated him as if he was too young to understand the works of the council or anything related to it. Almost everyone respected him and even listened to his advice and thoughts regarding the pirates. I liked that he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. He’s not only smart but also wise beyond his age.
His character is just solid to me. He has a very strong integrity, proper manners, bright personality, excellent leadership, and always have a good way with words. He is an overall a good young gentleman that possessed a lot of positive traits, no wonder the ladies around his age was smitten with him. I also liked how he was being careful the whole time he was staying in England and that the only person he can fully trust is Aribella. Honestly, I couldn’t blame him for trusting her since the royal family of England doesn’t seem so reliable enough. I loved how well the author wrote Layton’s character, she doesn’t just made Layton as wise but also tough that he managed to face an army of pirates and still won. I really adored his character.
Aribella is supposed to be the Duchess of Sumter once she gets married to Lord Bartholomew, but instead she was summoned by the Queen of England to be her lady-in-waiting. Her duty is not as easy as it sounds like, and from the looks of it, it was quite hard. I liked that she was calm and patient the whole time even though working for the Queen can be challenging. She wasn’t only a beautiful lady who possessed a proper ladylike manner, but she was also a smart and a quick-thinking lady. I get why Layton along with the Queen’s sons were so captivated by her. Honestly, nobody can blame them.
Aribella is the most trustworthy character who gained high respect from those who works for the royal family. Her mother was a very memorable and respectable woman in the royal court even though her position was only as the Queen’s lady-in-waiting. And now that Aribella filled her mother’s position, it warms my heart to see she was treated with much respect just like her mother. Whatever lessons about lady-in-waiting her mother taught her, it worked because she has become one of the most memorable and respectable young woman in the royal court. She was there to support the Queen and be the voice of reason in case the Queen’s needed her help in making a big decision. She was also the one who represent the Queen when her majesty couldn’t attend an important meeting with the royal council. Everything seem so natural to Aribella and I had no doubt that she will succeed in handling things in the palace and most importantly doing her duty. I really admired Aribella’s character because she is an inspiration.
Now moving on to the romance part. I really loved the way the author paired up Layton and Aribella. These two are a match made in heaven. Both are wise and too dedicated to their works, and both fulfilled their duties without having to break any sort of laws. Their romance is more of an insta-love kind but it was a very well-written one unlike most insta-love that doesn’t make any sense at all. It was really hard for them to pursue a relationship with each other due to their position. A prince and a lady-in-waiting getting together can be a bit controversial, especially when the Queen wanted the said prince to marry one of her daughters.
I get why it wasn’t easy for either Layton or Aribella to be together, it just seem so impossible with too many things trying to keep them apart. Day by day it was a struggle for them but well, since both of them are smart, they knew how to meet each other secretly without being discovered. I really loved their secret meet in the garden because it was basically the only time they can act how they want around each other which is being romantic and all of that stuff that can make you swoon. The progress of their relationship wasn’t as smooth as I hoped for because there are some challenges they had to face in order to get to their happily ever after, and I was glad to see they didn’t give up hope but instead they fought so hard to be together.
Layton and Aribella shared a special connection that not everyone is lucky to have. They both have a very strong chemistry which no one can deny. They just make a lot of sense together than than they were with other people. Aribella and Bartholomew just doesn’t have a spark like she and Layton did, and it was really weird to me that Bartholomew wanted to marry Aribella because whether they were distant cousin or not, he is still family. As for Princess Mary, she acted like a child more than a princess and just seeing her stand beside Layton weirded me out because I can’t see them as a couple since Mary looks more like a child and even acted as one compared to Layton who is a fine young prince and acted as a gentleman. Gladly there wasn’t any drama, just Mary being childish sometimes that I cannot stand. Lastly, I was happy that Layton and Aribella found their way back to each other. They really deserved the happy ending.
Overall, this book was just phenomenal and it left me speechless. Such beauty should be treasured. This is definitely a book I can always come back to and still I won’t get tired of reading it all over again. If you love a swoon-worthy and smooth Historical/Regency Romance with two very likable main leads and a story that can make you feel happy, emotional or mostly feel like you were on cloud nine, then pick this book up and read it.