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Coronets and Steel (Dobrenica #1)

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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  1,143 ratings  ·  172 reviews
In this new fantasy series, a young woman takes her own destiny by the hand-and the hilt.

California girl Kim Murray is unsatisfied with grad school and restless in life. Modern men disappoint her, and she studies ballet and fencing because they remind her of older, more romantic times.

She lives with her parents and her beloved but secretive aristocratic grandmother, w
...more
Hardcover, Hardcover 1st edition, 420 pages
Published September 2010 by DAW Books (first published August 19th 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,402)
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Tadiana ♕Part-Time Dictator♕
Coronets and Steel is a swashbuckling homage to The Prisoner of Zenda with a female lead character. Kim is a California girl with a talent for fencing, a fearless attitude and a startling resemblance to a missing Eastern European woman engaged to the prince of that country, Alex. Kim travels to Vienna, trying to find out more about her ancestry, and is spotted by Alex's servants, who think she's the missing fiancée and call Alex. Alex meets up with Kim and is convinced that she's his fiancée and ...more
Sherwood Smith
Sep 28, 2010 Sherwood Smith added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: my-books
Kim's a grad student in L.A. Her passions are ballet, fencing, Jane Austen, and swashbuckling, romantic old movies. When her grandmother begs her to go east and see if "they" are safe, then slips into an uncommunicative silence, Kim goes to Vienna in search of her family, armed with only two clues. She's having no luck when she first runs into a ghost, and then meets a guy she mentally dubs Mr. Darcy. Only this Mr. Darcy acts like he knows her. When she goes out for a drink and wakes up on a tra ...more
Anne Osterlund
Kim gave up an Olympic berth on the U.S. fencing team in order to research her own family history. To find out why she was raised on folk tales that don’t seem to be published in any library books. And why her grandfather disappeared in World War II. And, most important, why her grandmother has suddenly closed herself off from the world.

What Kim finds is Alec.
Or rather, he finds her.
And twenty-four hours later she wakes up, abducted, and trapped in the car of a speeding train. With a choice to m
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MB (What she read)
Feb 16, 2012 MB (What she read) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Readers who'd like a modern gothic romance w/fantasy elements
First read 10/14/10: My first book by Sherwood Smith but probably not my last!

I'm categorizing this as fantasy, because that's the way the Library had labelled it. I will say that most fantastical elements were kept in the background and very wispy. Maybe that will change as the series continues? I'd say that it's more of a swashbuckling type of modern Gothic Romance reminiscent of some of Joan Aiken's books or maybe Mary Stewart's brought into modern times, with fantasy elements. Also maybe a b
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Angela James
I almost marked this review as containing spoilers but didn't, though it does probably contain minor spoilers, though I think they're things important to helping people decide if they want to read the book or no.


I liked this book quite a bit, though I wish I'd known the story didn't quite end but continues in the next book. Aside from that, I'm still also a bit hesitant to call this a fantasy series. It's set in contemporary times, and it has some "other" elements but it strikes me as more para
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Jo Oehrlein
The main character (Kim) is a ballet dancer and a fencer. That should ring true in this house, right?

Beyond that, it's very much a long-lost twin type story, although she's just a look-alike cousin rather than a twin.

There's a slight love triangle, but she's obviously drawn to the "good" one, who, it turns out, can't marry her.

I thought the setup took a while. The whole thing about leaving her college team before the NCAAs was weird. NCAAs in fencing are in March. Now, UCLA is on a quarter cale
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Wealhtheow
Aurelia Kim Murray hunts for her grandmother's past, hoping to find some clue to breaking her grandmother's depression. While searching Europe for clues, she feels like she's being watched. A strange encounter at the ballet proves to her that in fact, she is. And thus Kim gets swept up into an adventure of mistaken identity, supernatural happenings, and all the balls and swashbuckling her romantic heart could desire.

Although I liked the twists on the Ruritania tale, this story didn't do it for m
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Marlene
I loved this book. Couldn't put it down, and I was reading it on my computer! I liked the voice from the first sentence. The protagonist, Kim, struck me as very real - smart and well-educated, but immature enough to still make some stupid decisions. I liked her spirit though. Throughout the book, there's a stubborn unwillingness to let others call the shots for her, even though it constantly gets her in trouble.

I liked the subtle approach to the romance, too, even though I'm not usually subtle a
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Deborah Ross
CORONETS AND STEEL combines some of my favorite story elements. It's romantic without being sappy, features a ferociously competent and intelligent heroine, and guides me from the familiar (Southern California, where I lived for many years -- even recognize some of the places!) to actual-Europe to the borders of a special and magical kingdom. I suppose this has particular appeal since I lived in France for most of a year and loved exploring the narrow cobblestoned streets of Vieux Lyon. As our h ...more
Clare Cannon
Sherwood Smith's books always have wonderful characters who are well rounded and lots of fun and completely distinct from one another. In Coronets and Steel Kim is a sporty, courageous and charmingly down-to-earth heroine, and Alec is a noble, humble yet complex hero. Even all the sub-characters are interesting because they are so creatively diverse: reckless Tony, background Beka, Kim's mum and dad (as little as they feature), and her Gran, and all the other flawed heroes and selfish villains w ...more
Estara
Sep 16, 2010 Estara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Crown Duel and The Prisoner of Zenda
Shelves: read-in-2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ancamna
I picked up Coronets and Steel, by Sherwood Smith, at Barnes and Noble the other day, since I had a B&N gift card I'd been saving, and a desperate urge for a new book.

I finished it last night at 1 am, and the only reason I didn't finish it the night before (really, earlier that day) at 5 am was that I had had a really long day and my eyes were fuzzing out on me. As I paged toward the end I glared in horror at the meager five pages awaiting my greedy eyes. What do you mean there were only a f
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Katharine Kimbriel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stefanie
Perhaps my biggest problem with Coronets is simply that it wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s more “Princess Diaries” than swashbuckler. The story took an eternity to get properly moving beyond endless scenes of genealogy and shopping, and by the time it did pick up the pace, I was too bored and annoyed with the characters to care.

I should have been warned away right from the beginning, when (view spoiler)
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Hallie
I finished this a while ago, but life was so crazy that I didn't get to write it up. It wasn't lack of enjoyment that stopped me - just lack of quiet time with computer and no crisis.

Right - I'm not impartial about this one, in part because I got to beta read when it was a WIP, but having said that, I'm pretty sure I'd have loved it regardless. I can only imagine how much fun it would add to have read Prisoner of Zenda, though it was plenty fun without. There was a very apt comment from a reader
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Donna
This was a little more drama (and a little less swashbuckler) than I expected, but I never can resist a heroine who uncovers a secret aristocratic heritage.

Kim is a fun, determined heroine, if a little too trusting. The one thing about her that kept pulling me out of the story was her incredibly deep range of knowledge on all kinds of subjects. She speaks French like an old-fashioned Parisian, and also knows some German and Russian. She fences competitively at a high level, studied ballet, and e
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Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
I forget what exactly prompted this train of thought, but I was thinking the other day that some books are books for the heart, or the soul, or the brain: books that touch you and stay with you forever. And some books are only books. And which books are which will of course vary wildly from person to person.

Well, for me this is only a book. (Or maybe occupying some middle ground between "only a book" and "book I want to have forever.") I don't regret having spent the time reading it, and I think
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Kathleen
This is a modern version of a "Ruritanian Romance" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruritani...) and it's quite fun. Very light touch of fantasy--so light, it almost doesn't qualify as fantasy--and plenty of excitement, adventure, intrigue, and so on.

I liked how different the main character was from her "twin," though the biggest difference between them seemed to be how shallow the "twin" was. The main character didn't have much time to interact with her, so maybe that's to be expected.

I also liked
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Erin
I picked this up because I was travelling, and a long-time fan of Sherwood Smith. On the whole I was not particularly impressed (but then, I had just finished reading her Banner of the Damned, which I thought was superb). I finished it, but did a lot of skimming, which I usually avoid in favor of just giving the book up.

I found that I mostly just didn't like the main character, Kim. I thought a lot of her California persona was forced or awkward... I have lived here my whole life and couldn't im
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Lianne Burwell
In the theme of The Prisoner of Zenda, Kim Murray is in Europe, trying to trace her grandmother's family history when she is mistaken for a rich woman from a tiny country near Russia. Naturally, this drags her into intrigue and swashbuckling (she's a championship fencer, conveniently enough).

Fantasy elements include hints about fae and vampires, and the fact that Kim can see ghosts, but over all, it barely counts as a fantasy novel.

Unfortunately, most of the plot problems can be basically summed
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LadyTechie
Great book! I truly enjoyed it. This book was very rich in history. I have had a hard time investigating regular fantasy books. One thing that I have loved about Urban Fantasy is placing the fantasy in our world allowing me to get a good picture of places and things in the story. It allows me to picture myself seeing the story unravel in person. One thing about Coronets and Steel that I loved was the feeling of regular fantasy in the middle of an urban fantasy. The story was tightly written with ...more
Lia Marcoux
This was INTERMINABLE. It was like having a joke explained to you for over 400 pages - the idea was fun, but the telling was so laborious. Scenes like "I walked around the town all day. I saw nothing but I felt like I was being watched" took 5 or 6 pages each. There was no chemistry between Kim and the romantic lead (or Kim and the back-up romantic lead, which I didn't even realize was meant to be one until Smith drew a giant flashing arrow towards him, and even then I thought "Are you SURE?"). ...more
xenu01
I've enjoyed Sherwood Smith since Wren to the Rescue fell into my lap when I was the perfect age and reading level for it. I read that book over and over and over, reveling in the lovely weirdness of Wren as a heroine and the centrality of female friendship to the plot of the book. So I am not surprised that I enjoyed this book as much as I did. I wanted to cut Kim's hair off sometimes because it seemed like it would be very much in the way, and I'm still weirded out by a possible romance (this ...more
Mandi Ellsworth
Ms. Smith seems to enjoy thrusting unsuspecting women, who have been trained in sword fighting and have impossibly long hair, into the role of princess and further adventure. I admit, I also like that premise. For that alone, I have to recommend this book. Unlike her others, Ms. Smith keeps this one contemporary, set in a made up country in Eastern Europe. Lots of fun escapes and one great fight. The romance wasn't bad. However, there were long passages of politics and references to literature I ...more
Maren
I had fun reading this book, and I plan to continue the series, but there were a few things that kept it from being totally awesome for me.

The references to history and music and art and literature seemed obscure. I haven't read The Prisoner of Zenda. Was that my problem?

Dobrenica felt like a real country with its own unique history, politics, and culture. That was cool! But at times I felt like the story got weighed down with too many descriptions of said history, politics, and culture--look a
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Hanako
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy
Yay for family history! Even better if you find your tree has solid gold branches. Lots of fun adventures and mostly clean with a scene of violence and swearing near the end. Speaking of the end, it was not what I wanted but it fit the book and left it wide open for more to happen. As this was the first in a trilogy I'm very interested to see what turns up. Also, I just want to say I once met my doppelganger and it really is a very strange experience to see someone with your face but none of the ...more
Linda
The more I think about this book, the more I mentally downgrade it. If ever there was an example of the "I'm not like the other girls" type it would be Kim. The book has an interesting setting and has its merits but it spends the entire time comparing Kim to the girl who she's mysteriously a doppelganger of and being like "you're so much better and more intelligent than that superficial slut." Like come on.

I mean, I should have expected it considering that the back cover copy has a sentence alo
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Stephanie
I love Sherwood Smith. So many of her books are about damsels who are not in distress, and saving kingdoms and kings with little more than spunk and stubbornness.

This series was a little different. After finishing the trilogy, I find I really enjoyed it, but while reading I found myself confused because it had such a different plot formula, and a very different setting. I kept expecting to find the main character fall into the world of Crown Duel and Inda, but it never happened. And there was a
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Janet Jones
This book is absolutely unforgettable. My daughter and I have been reading Sherwood Smith's books together for a long time. This one makes a great read-aloud. We would never have been able to bear the ending without having the sequel Blood Spirits at-hand so we could keep reading.

Kim is someone I could identify with from the get-go. The cover image is perfect for her. She remains an individual throughout her adventure and stays true to her inner compass, even though she's very much a fish out of
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So how old is Alec? 3 9 Jan 28, 2015 10:02PM  
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12350
I am a writer, but I'm here on Goodreads to talk about books, as I've been a passionate reader as long as I've been a writer--since early childhood.

I'm not going to rate books--there are too many variables. I'd rather talk about the reading experience. My 'reviews' of my books are confined to the writing process.

More about Sherwood Smith...

Other Books in the Series

Dobrenica (3 books)
  • Blood Spirits (Dobrenica, #2)
  • Revenant Eve (Dobrenica, #3)
Crown Duel (Crown & Court #1-2) Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2) Crown Duel (Crown & Court, #1) A Posse of Princesses Inda (Inda, #1)

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