Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
“‘All the money in the world.’ Mom continued. ‘Perfectly decent parents. And what do you get but five grown men with issues.’”
The only way that I want to start this review is like this: I really like Crowne Rules. I thought Byron Crowne’s story would be “it” for me. Then, Logan Crowne’s story came along. I thought his story would be “it” for me, but now, after reading Crowne Rules, Dante Crowne is the king of the Crowne brothers (don’t tell him that as it will go to his head). I’m so used to writing these well-drawn reviews about CD Reiss’s books. Her books invite my brain to its literature-infused neural pathway, but there is something elemental about this book that makes me want to use the word “like” a whole bunch, so here goes.
I like Dante Crowne. He’s layered and complex in a way that I didn’t expect. I thought this about Byron and Logan too, but you realize very quickly that Dante’s demons and his past add an edge to him that his brothers don’t have. As his control unravels, it’s one of the most glorious aspects of Reiss’s story. Dante is my favorite type of hero, so buttoned up and needing and seeking out control that you know he will be brought to his knees by the heroine. And that happens. It’s why I like him the most.
I like Mandy or Dante’s Amanda or his amea. Towards the end of his story, Dante says to her, “You’re a provocation,” he growled. “Do you know that?” And there is so much truth to this statement. She is the provocation for his evolution. She is the provocation to his lack of control. She is the provocation to his life changes, and you can’t help but love her. Even more, Mandy is messy. Dante and Mandy are seemingly so different: he tells her that her feelings are too much, that she is unrestrained and willingly trusts her heart to anyone. In contrast, Dante’s feelings are hidden so deep that he doesn’t believe he feels anymore. When Mandy acts, Dante reacts, and it creates explosive chemistry that oozes off the page. Their dichotomy is the keen truth of their love: one completes the other, and it makes them better.
I like the dichotomy of Dante and Mandy. There is a truth in this story about one’s love helping them become the best version of themselves. At the beginning of the story, this feels very true for Mandy, while it seems confused with Dante. Eventually in the story, you realize that as Dante helps Mandy become Couture Mandy, she is helping Dante become the best version of himself. It reminds you that being loved should allow you to be the best version of yourself.
I like the Crowne stories. It’s interesting to me that the Crowne brothers, given their happily married parents and privilege, embrace denial. All three brothers, Dante included, lack the ability to see the truth of love. For some reason, it hit me hard in Crowne Rules. Dante’s epiphany doesn’t come until late in the story, and that moment feels big in the breadth of the Crowne stories. I like that all three brothers’ books feel messy, which is so unlike their actual characterizations.
I like the emotional gravitas of Crowne Rules. Over and over again, Mandy and Dante strive against themselves. Mandy is always “fine” when she isn’t, and Dante denies the truth of his past. Until they recognize their truths, Reiss pulls you through the roller-coaster of their story, and you empathize with their strife. It’s like any of us who don’t want to self-actualize our lives; it’s painful and onerous. However, if we want to live abundantly (and Reiss’s epilogue shows an abundant life), we have to accept our truth and be willing to embrace vulnerability. We don’t have to be “fine;” we just have to choose to live.
Additionally, as is the case with most of Reiss’s romances, always lurking in the shadows of the story are societal insights, lending a certain amount of gravity to the romantic parts of the story. In this book, statutory rape, obsessive paparazzi, and living in the closet are some of the societal issues.
Exuding power and alpha-hole tendencies, Dante Crowne will steal your heart. CD Reiss has definitely saved the most interesting Crowne brother for last with Crowne Rules. Every turn of the page reminded me how much I “like” Reiss’s stories. In a world that is broken, she offers up broken people as the main characters of her stories and saves them through a provocative kind of love. If you love alpha-hole heroes and messy heroines, then you MUST grab Crowne Rules.
In love and romance,