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  • Writer's pictureGrace A. Johnson

review | the cost of the crown by joy crain


If you’ve ever wondered what a Netflix royal romance would be like in book form…this is it.

The Cost of the Crown was possessed all the trademarks of a chick flick—specifically a princely Netflix or Hallmark movie—and as someone who’s more comfortable with period dramas, this sweet story wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. But if you’re looking for something with all the cozy feels, a dreamy prince who loves kids (especially orphans), an exotic setting, and a go-getter heroine—you’ve found it.

I’ll be blunt: the overall storyline of The Cost of the Crown was cliché. The jury’s still out on whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing—I personally think it all boils down to personal preference. Me? I cringed a few good times, and in the beginning there, I wasn’t having any of this picture-perfect saccharine sweet royal romance. Something about it rubbed me wrong…

But as the story progressed, I may have begun to lose my heart to it just a wee bit. Guilty as charged! Even though I saw every plot point coming from a mile away, I loved how it wasn’t overly dramatic while still being realistic. In the end, I enjoyed where the story went and how it unfolded.

80% of my enjoyment is due to Missy, our heroine. If y’all’ve ever read my reviews, you’ll know me and heroine just don’t mix—but there was something about Missy I appreciated. She was just your normal girl—not a hotshot exec or a kick-butt tough gal. She had skills and a typical job, but she was also Missy. She had feelings and wanted a relationship with her father even though she struggled to forgive him. She experienced the world and people around her without being consumed by her job or herself or even her love interest, our princely hero Aiden. She felt genuine, and I admired that. I can’t say she had much by way of a distinctive personality, but she did have growth and she showed some amazing strength and selflessness, which is so rare to see in heroines these days. She put others, even Aiden, above herself, to the point of denying herself the things she truly desired.

Now that’s true love.

So while elements of this novel were “silly” and Hallmarky, there were elements that went far deeper and were much more touching than a greeting card message.

Like Missy, there was genuine faith, and I loved seeing how Aiden and Missy lived out their Christian faith in a way that wasn’t forced but was simply there simply and realistically. I think there was certainly potential for deeper faith aspects and spiritual character arcs, but I ain’t complaining. 😉

We also had a fantabulous cast of secondary characters. From King Myron and Queen Alicia to Alexander, Genevieve, and Julian, I absolutely adored Aiden’s friends and family and their dynamics! I NEED Genevieve and Alexander’s stories!

(Random side note: I also loved Florence. She was kind and, well, the perfect princess rather than a brat thrown in for drama. She felt like a real, developed character, and I loved that! So often authors throw in cardboard cutouts that are 100% despicable just to be biased, out of laziness, or to emphasize the angelic nature of our hero/heroine…but not so with Florence! *gives a round of applause*)

But Aiden. Oh, Aiden. How I wanted to love this too-good-for-his-britches Prince Charming, but alas. He simply paled in comparison to Missy. Whereas she was strong and self-sacrificing, Aiden clung tightly to his dreams and didn’t end up giving up anything. He came off as selfish, even if the things he wanted weren’t. And while Missy had some character growth that I wasn’t even expected, Aiden missed out on growing in the areas he should have. Plus, there were things about him that I just generally didn’t like. He wasn’t my type, I guess, so there’s a good chance someone else might find him to be absolutely perfect! Who knows?

My main qualm was the culture. I so wanted to explore Andelar’s culture and we didn’t; I wanted to feel immersed in the Asian atmosphere and I didn’t; and I wanted Asian names so badly and there were none. 😭 I felt like I missed out on the element that was supposed to make this story so unique! Andelar as far as worldbuilding (since this is a fictional country) felt under-developed, and so many elements of the culture felt European. Especially the names. Why did everyone have English names??? Maybe I simply missed something…I don’t know.

(Also, if Aiden is really half Asian and half Caucasian, due to genetics, he wouldn’t have blond hair? Or blue eyes? At least, I don’t think so. If I’m wrong, correct me, but that felt very unrealistic. Surely he would’ve looked more like his father, more Asian.)

So, yes, I raised my eyebrows a few times throughout The Cost of the Crown. It wasn’t quite what I’d expected; instead, it felt like something I’d seen a dozen times. But it still possessed some qualities that made it stand out from the crowd: great character dynamics, an admirable heroine, and inspirational faith. Once I started reading and let myself get sucked into the story, I couldn’t put it down! Even if I did know how the story would play out. 😂

If you specifically love Hallmark and Netflix movies (like A Christmas Prince), you’re literally gonna eat this up! And if that’s not quite your cup of tea, I think the sugary flavor will grow on ya after a while. 😉

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

~ the book ~

Missy Hanson never dreamed of falling in love and living happily ever after. In fact, she doesn’t know what she wants to do after she graduates from college; nevertheless, she’s content working as a journalist for her local newspaper and assisting at her aunt’s California bakery. When a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity emerges for her to visit the southeast Asian country of Andelar, Missy is thrown into the world of royalty as the special guest of the king and queen—and it’s clear she doesn’t belong, despite her family ties to the area. But the royal family isn’t without its mysteries. Rumors abound that a secret prince is hiding amid Andelar’s society, and Missy is determined to find out who he is.

Aiden Waverly never wanted a crown or a title. He craves a normal life, but being a secret prince of biracial background is difficult enough and would create chaos amid the tabloids if the press learned about his parentage. After years of traveling the world to help those in the greatest of need, he’s faced with a life-altering decision: take his place as crown prince or walk away as a commoner. With no clear path that will satisfy him and the royal family, the tug between following his heart and doing his duty to Andelar becomes harder every day.

When a chance encounter throws Missy and Aiden together, neither of them are prepared to challenge what they thought they knew about themselves. And when an ancient royal law threatens to tear them apart, they must decide how much they are willing to risk for love.

~ the author ~

Joy Crain was born in Guangdong Province, China, where she lived with her American adoptive parents. Born with a vivid imagination and a love for books and storytelling, Joy started writing her own stories around the age of 13, and the journey continued from there.

Currently, Joy lives in China, where she spends her time teaching English and pursuing her passion for writing.

Follow her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram, or subscribe to her newsletter and check out her website!


Are you a Hallmark or Netflix fan? Or do you appreciate something with a little more depth? I think you'll be impressed by the glimmers of depth in The Cost of the Crown!

What's a book that impressed or surprised you? Let me know in the comments!

60 views4 comments


Oct 17, 2023

I wouldn't normally watch Hallmark or Netflix... but funnily enough this book really interests me :D I for sure want to give it a shot when I get the chance. Thanks for sharing this review!

Grace A. Johnson
Grace A. Johnson
Oct 19, 2023
Replying to

Good idea! ;)


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