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Book review: 'Pretender to the Crown' has new adventures, heroes and secrets

Editor's note: This is one of the five novels that are 2017 Whitney Award finalistsin the speculative fiction category. The Whitney Awards recognize novels by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the list of winners, click here.

"PRETENDER TO THE CROWN," by Melissa McShane, Night Harbor Publishing, $13.95, 328 pages (f)

To most residents of Tremontane, Willow North is nothing but a skilled thief preying on the weakness of the rich. No one else knows that she also is gifted with a special ability that makes her even more dangerous and wily.

Then one night she finds herself, with some trepidation, working with her former fiancé in a brazen attempt to save the life of a young boy. And this is not just any boy — he is the surviving heir to the throne of the kingdom.

In her recent book "Pretender to the Crown," the first in the Saga of Willow North series, Utah author Melissa McShane takes readers to her tried and true kingdom of Tremontane to entice them with new heroes and adventures. Willow North is not only a very successful thief, she is also blessed with the gift to sense metals — a powerful tool in her chosen profession. But her hatred for the way gifted people use their powers to take advantage of the weak convinces her to hide her abilities. Until she meets Serjian Kerish, a handsome dowser who works for the king’s brother, and falls in love.

Eventually Willow decides that Serjian is just like all the other gifted and ends the romance. Until he shows up with a small boy, begging for help. The king’s son, Felix, is in danger from his ambitious uncle and Serjian has a plan to save his life. With Willow’s help, he is confident they will be able to protect the boy and return him to his rightful place — on the throne of Tremontane. The trick will be to avoid the assassination attempts, traitorous royalty and dangers of the wild in order to get Felix home.

"Pretender to the Crown" has no described sexual content but there are hints to such behavior. Most of the violence is tame, but there are several battles and deaths.

"Pretender to the Crown" is a 2017 Whitney Award finalist in the speculative fiction category. The awards recognize novels by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.