I'm not typically a romance and girly dress kind of reader, so the covers of these books were not originally captivating for me. However, the strength of the female characters kept me rooting for their success and happiness. Set in the imaginary country of Illea, Eadlyn is faced with her mother's heart attack in the midst of her own Selection. Distraught over her twin brother's absence and her helplessness as her mother lies unresponsive, Eadlyn is thrust further into the nation's spotlight.
The novel's setting reads like a futuristic United States and there are elements of governmental chaos and class politics. This is coupled with a heroine who despite wealth, position, and beauty is insecure in how others perceive her. After announcing her coming ascension to the throne, Eadlyn must read the press's reaction to her press conference, a plight of modern day politicians and royalty. I have to admit, I often thought of Kate Middleton as I read these books, even though the circumstances are dramatically different. Her every fashion choice, public speech, and parenting decisions are fodder for the media; Eadlyn reads the morning paper that describes her as, "She's young. She's distant. She's not in touch with her people (142)." Those words are often used by eager reporters aimed to manipulate the public's perception of public figures in an effort to sensationalize or influence an image.
For Eadlyn, she is navigating new responsibilities with running the advisory board, analyzing the intentions of Marid Illea, and selecting a potential husband from among the remaining suitors of the Selection. Marid sells himself as "Nothing but a loyal subject....[willing] to offer any help...in this tense time (28)." Yet Eadlyn senses some ulterior motives in his machinations.
The unique relationships that Eadlyn has with each of the final Selection men mimics the personalities that can be found in real people. Cass is able to capture the talents and desires of 21st century men in her creation of Kile, Ean, Hale, Fox, and Henri. There are language struggles, matters of honor, humility, and career conflicts for each of the young men who are possible partners for Eadlyn.
The Crown seems to be a fitting conclusion to the series, and it is equally as engaging as its predecessors. I would highly recommend reading the novels in order because the characters and chronology are found from the beginning. The books certainly will read easily independently, but I think that the reader will appreciate knowing those character histories from their beginnings.