ARC Review: Capture the Crown by Jennifer Estep

About the Book:

Title: Capture the Crown

Author: Jennifer Estep

Series: A Gargoyle Queen – Book 1

Page Length: 464

Publication Date: July 6, 2021

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Synopsis: 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…

LINKS:     Goodreads    |       Amazon    

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My Review:

I loved Capture the Crown, the first book in Jennifer Estep’s new A Gargoyle Queen series. The story follows Gemma, a princess/spy, who while on an investigative mission uncovers things that result in more danger and political intrigue than she ever imagined.

Princess Gemma Ripley has a reputation for being spoiled and pampered, more interested in gowns and jewelry than politics. She encourages this gossip and cultivates the persona of a glitzy, silly woman – anything to distract from the truth. Gemma is really a spy. While investigating who is stealing tearstone from one of her kingdom’s mines, she becomes an unlikely ally of Leonidas Morricone of Morta – her mortal enemy and the man she wants dead. I love Gemma! She is strong and fierce, independent and intelligent. She loves her family and her country, and she fights hard for what she believes in. Gemma also struggles with traumas from her past, which exacerbates her anxiety. She is well-layered and interesting, and I enjoyed the complexities of her character.

My magic might be a storm, but it wasn’t caused by other people’s thoughts and feelings. Not really, not fully. No, that storm of emotion was all mine. My power, my feelings, my love and pain and rage. I was the true storm. Unpredictable. Uncontrollable. Unstoppable.

Leonidas is another great character and the perfect anti-hero. Not always honorable, trustworthy, or honest, his character is veiled in mystery, and I so loved trying to figure out his true intentions. He is so different from Gemma, who is fairly obvious in her feelings and motivations. Of course, Gemma’s life and family are very different from Leo’s. Unused to the support and love of family, Leo faces familial manipulation, threats, and even attempts on his life. However, Leo is different from most of his family members. He doesn’t possess the cruelty that many of the others do, and he tries valiantly to protect those he loves and cares about. I like that Leo is so well-layered, and I feel like there is so much more to learn about his character.

Determined to show Gemma that not all of his people are evil, Leo shows a deep love for his country. However, political intrigue abounds in his world, and it seems as if everyone has a scheme in the works. So many people are vying for the throne, and no one is safe. Gemma knows she can’t trust anyone, though Leo tries to convince her otherwise. There are so many twists in the story, and I was shocked at some of the turns of events. With murder coups, brewing wars, and a woman behind enemy lines, there is tons of tension and action. Plus, there’s the beginning of a swoon-tastic romance!

I am a fan of a good love story, and this slow-building, enemies-to-lovers romance is fantastic. Gemma and Leo have such a complicated and impossible romance, which reminds me a bit of Romeo and Juliet. Their families are enemies, and Gemma has despised Leo since he betrayed her when they were children. Gemma is slow to trust the mysterious and secretive Leo, even though she feels drawn to him for some inexplicable reason.

“I don’t like to be touched,” he rasped. “But I want to touch you.”


Because of his brutal upbringing, Leo struggles with intimacy. Like Gemma, Leo is slow to trust, but his feelings for her are strong. He resists them for many reasons, but this proves impossible. Things are not always as they seem, and the more this pair (especially Gemma) learns about each other, the past, and the present danger, the more they realize that their perceptions might be wrong. I love the tension between this couple. There are so many obstacles in their way, and it seems improbable that they could end up together, but I’m still rooting for them.

In addition to the layered characters and swoon-worthy romance, the world-building is immersive and interesting. I love the different animals, magic, and other supernatural elements that wove through the story. Gemma’s loyal gargoyle is fantastic, as is Leo’s feathered friend. They both have big personalities, and though they should be enemies, they actually seem to have a begrudging respect for each other. I can’t wait to learn more about the world, the magic, and the other supernatural elements and creatures in the upcoming books.

Though this is a spin-off of the Crown of Shards series, you don’t need to read that series to read this book. That being said, I loved this book so much that I’m going to read the Crown of Shards series next. I think this is a great book for readers who like fantasies with dynamic characters, immersive stories, tons of political intrigue, and a fantastic enemies-to-lovers romance. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series and am so thankful to NetGalley, Jennifer Estep, and Harper Voyager for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance.
  • The political intrigue.
  • The well-developed characters.

Favorite Lines:

If you’re going to be known as something, then you should be known as the very best at it.

My theory is just a theory-until I find proof that it’s not.

Spy the storm brewing, and you won’t get struck by lightening. Ignore the clouds, and you’ll get burned to a crisp.

I am not yours to command.


15 thoughts on “ARC Review: Capture the Crown by Jennifer Estep

  1. I’m happy you liked the book! It has been quite a while since this book is in my TBR but I have to say that I am very excited to start this book! I am definitely picking this up someday 🙂

  2. I’ve heard of this one and have been intrigued by it! I’m glad it was a very enjoyable book for you.

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