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Coronets and Steel (Dobrenica #1)

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3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  1,342 Ratings  ·  189 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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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
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 ...more
Lia Marcoux
Oct 29, 2014 Lia Marcoux rated it it was ok
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
Katie
This came SO close to being something I loved which made the ultimate disconnect all the more disappointing. I think the biggest problem is I just didn't feel the romantic relationship enough. Again, it came close, but JUST missed it for me. But that would've made me forgive a lot.

I didn't really understand most of the politics and backstory, which I think affected my reaction to the romantic relationship because it's so interconnected. I didn't really get some of the arguments and decisions tha
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Wealhtheow
May 13, 2013 Wealhtheow rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
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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Anne Osterlund
Mar 20, 2012 Anne Osterlund rated it really liked it
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 really liked it
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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Jo Oehrlein
Sep 15, 2012 Jo Oehrlein rated it liked it
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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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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Estara
Sep 16, 2010 Estara rated it liked it
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
Sep 11, 2010 Ancamna rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
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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Clare Cannon
May 18, 2012 Clare Cannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
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 ...more
Katharine Kimbriel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Claire
May 29, 2011 Claire rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy, 2011
I liked the premise, even if it isn't exactly original (think Princess Diaries) but the book just didn't appeal to me. Part of the problem is that the book reads like an extended prologue, and nothing really happens here but set up. I also had a hard time warming to the narrator Kim, and never really cared about her issues or danger.

Kim discovers that she is the near doppelganger of aristo/princess Ruli who comes from Dobrenica, an Eastern European country with something mystical about it (we n
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Marlene
Sep 27, 2010 Marlene rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook
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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Hallie
Sep 28, 2010 Hallie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
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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Deborah Ross
Oct 30, 2010 Deborah Ross rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Donna
Jan 27, 2013 Donna rated it liked it
Shelves: library, fantasy
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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Stefanie
Dec 30, 2012 Stefanie rated it it was ok
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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Kathleen
Dec 20, 2010 Kathleen rated it really liked it
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 DeLaney
Jul 07, 2012 Erin DeLaney rated it liked it
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
...more
Lianne Burwell
Apr 09, 2011 Lianne Burwell rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
...more
LadyTechie
Nov 30, 2010 LadyTechie rated it it was amazing
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
Hanako
Nov 15, 2010 Hanako rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tamora Muir
Sep 07, 2011 Tamora Muir rated it really liked it
I loved the fencing--actually, that's why I picked up this book to begin with.

Of course, to stick with it, it's got to have good characters and a great plot. This does.

An obscure European country is on the verge of hostile annexation, and so the ruler's son has arranged a marriage to keep that from happening, but the fiancee gets cold feet and disappears. Alec, the prince, thinks he has found her, only to discover Kim, a look alike long lost relative of his fiancee instead. They start to fall i
...more
Siria
Oct 07, 2013 Siria rated it did not like it
Coronets and Steel has a great hook—a 21st century genderswapped remix of The Prisoner of Zenda, with Kim Murray as the young American student who, while spending the summer in Europe, discovers that she bears an eerie resemblance to an aristocrat from a small eastern European country. A new, feminist spin on a Ruritanian fantasy is something that I'm primed to enjoy, but I found this book very disappointing. I'm not sure that Smith knew what genre she was writing in—romance, fantasy, action-adv ...more
Sara
Mar 28, 2011 Sara rated it it was amazing
Really liked this book! This is a fun contemporary (not really urban) fantasy combining a grand European adventure, political intrigue, and a touch of the otherworldly. This book is romantic on all levels--the swoon-worthy European settings are fantastically described in lavish detail, the love stories of several generations are tied together, and the unlikeliest things tend to happen while somehow seeming perfectly possible. I read it thinking it was a standalone, but it seems like there will ...more
Winnett
I did not finish this book. I was interested and liked the character, but the author made her stupid.

She has a male stalker, who drugs her, kidnaps her, and then when she has a chance to call for help, she stays quiet because she's embarrassed that she's dirty. She never calls out for help. Then when her kidnapper admits he kidnapped the wrong person, she agrees to help him. (and I'm afraid he is a romantic interest.)

Killed the book for me. I do not enjoy books where the characters make really
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RoseAdagio
Sherwood Smith is the author of one of my favorite books of all time, Crown Duel, so I'm always excited to read practically anything she writes, haha. XD

And, as usual, I wasn't disappointed. :D XD This one didn't quite enamor me in the way Crown Duel did (to be fair, very few books have managed that feat XD), but it was still a really great read and I'm totally excited to read the next in the series! :D

The story follows Kim, a grad student from UCLA (har har) with fencing and ballet skillz, and
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So how old is Alec? 3 11 Jan 28, 2015 10:02PM  
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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.

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Other Books in the Series

Dobrenica (3 books)
  • Blood Spirits (Dobrenica, #2)
  • Revenant Eve (Dobrenica, #3)

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