Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?
Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. WIth the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her strangehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.
But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard.
Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of — the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only one rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.
384 pages; YA/Fantasy; 2014
The story opens with a brief history of the crown – the fall of Charles VI of France and witch, Jeanne of Ark, defeated by the English army and its magicians, lad by their Merlin, Emrys Myrddn. Nearly five hundred years later at the beginning of the twentieth century, the reign of Queen Eleanor II is coming to a close. The one-hundred-and-fifty year old must marry off her only daughter, the Princess Dauphine Marie-Victoria, who in turn must produce an heir to continue the Aquitaine line.
As part of a truce following the Battle of Lumac, ending the Franco-Prussian war, Marie-Victoria is to wed its Kronprinz, Leopold VII. Their union is thought to settle tensions among the Continent and is to be announced at the annual Bal du Drap d’Or in London, where eligible ladies are brought to court with the hope of landing a suitable husband.
Then comes the clincher – the Queen’s dram. Two girls of the same age, one weak and sickly, the other strong and able-bodied. One will someday be queen, the other left in her shadow to serve her forevermore. But which of the two is her daughter, and which is the traitor?
once lived amongst the wealthy and the entitled, the only child of Emrys the Merlin. Gifted with her father’s extraordinary talents, she served and was a faithful companion to the Princess Dauphine. One costly mistake caused her exile to the care of her father’s sister, who – in her own opinion – chose not to waste her magic by granting it to the royals. Four years pass before she is summoned back to vow herself to the Aquitaine line and to the future queen’s reign. Then a turn of events present her with the opportunity to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight, to receive the ring and the crown. But will she take it?
no longer allows illness to govern her life. Never having felt a mother’s affections and unhappy with future queenly duties weighing on her shoulders, giving Leopold her hand will be a reluctant sacrifice. Secretly, she pines for her personal guard. When it comes to light that she is not alone in her feelings, she turns to her dearest friend to assist her in a seemingly impossible way. But will she succeed?
has been betrothed to the Kronprinz of Prussia since childhood. Luckily, she’s in love with him and he with her. Desperate to escape the clutches of her cousin’s iron-tight grasp and to restore wealth to her family, finding out that Leopold means to sever their arrangement of marriage gives cause for alarm. Off to court she goes, determined to keep her man, who assures her that all he does moving foward is for their future together. But can she trust his word?
is of a family that once mattered in the eyes of the court. Now only a suitable marriage can restore her faily name and it all rests on Ronan’s ability to snag someone with money and a title. Forced to travel to London by ship, she is appalled to find that her parents could not even afford for her to travel first class. Miraculously, she ends up in the most lavishly decorated suite onboard. Unbeknownst to her, thanks is due to a devilish lad she meets and is highly attracted to; however, marrying into a family of sheepherders is out of the question and she rejects his advances. But could this be the biggest mistake of her life?
is a second son, a spare to the heir. With more freedom to do as he pleases than a first son would have, he spends his time fighting in underground rings and fighting off women who claim to have been impregnated by the prince. Traveling back to London from America, he falls for a headstrong girl whose only goal is to land an aristocrat. Impersonating a commoner and omitting his true identity, he nearly persuades her to abandon that thought and run away with him as his bride. But what will happen when they meet again at court?
must smooth-talk his lover, Isabelle, into signing away their engagement, freeing him to marry Marie-Victoria in her place. As if two women were not enough, he adds another into the mix when Aelwyn returns. The face he shows the world is that of a perfect gentleman and a king of the people, one who will bring prosperity. But is there more to him than it seems?
I did like reading about the other characters but I looked forward to seeing how Wolf and Ronan’s story would pan out because Goodreads already exposes the master plan between Princess and Mage in their book description. I actually cared about what their end game would look like.
My only complaint would be that in the final pages, all the loose ends were tied up through words and not action. The reader is being told of key plot points through a character that has already been informed so the emotions said characters would have experienced at the initial realizations have already passed.
If you can appreciate this book for what it is – light, bubbly, fun – than you won’t turn the last page thinking you wasted your time. The tone of the read is very reminiscent of “Gossip Girl” and “Reign”, especially. The scheming, the hidden ulterior motives, and the underlying hint of magic throughout the story made for a great escape book. It isn’t a heavy read at all and once I got used to threading the many characters to their given storyline, I began to continue reading happily. It’s perfect for a bubble bath read after an intense workout or a lazy beach day.
I absolutely loved coming up with my personal playlist for this review. Melanie Martinez takes up a good chunk of it but truthfully, her entire album would suffice.
Because I had fun.
1. Glamorous – Fergie ft. Ludacris
2. I Don’t Wanna Grow Up – Bebe Rexha
3. Royals – Lorde
4. Secret – The Pierces
5. Toxic – Britney Spears
6. Dollhouse – Melanie Martinez
7. Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
8. Pity Party – Melanie Martinez
9. Pacify Her – Melanie Martinez
10. The Sweet Escape – Gwen Stefani ft. Akon
11. Mrs. Potato Head – Melanie Martinez
12. Bittersweet Tragedy – Melanie Martinez
13. Teddy Bear – Melanie Martinez
14. Mad Hatter – Melanie Martinez
15. Blank Space – Taylor Swift
16. Flowers In Your Hair – The Lumineers