Secrets and betrayal. Fear and courage. Can one woman keep her nation from destruction?
Gwyneth Blacksman was content to live comfortably on her farm, but a long-held secret changed her life forever. Thrust into a role she didn’t want or ask for, Gwen must face the facts. Will she step up and be who her people need her to be? Or will she wilt under the pressure of politics, schemes, and a looming war? The Emperor of Devin offers her a way to avoid the bloodshed that is sure to come, but his offer is disingenuous at best, a lie at worst.
With her countrymen’s lives on the line, Gwen must make a hard choice. Give into the Emperor’s demand, or stand against him and take Rodasia into a war they can’t win? As the problems keep mounting, she turns to the only two people who have stayed by her side through it all. Charles, the conflicted soldier who stirs up all sorts of feelings she would rather ignore, and Jakob, the excommunicated priest who challenges her assumptions about God.
Gwen is the main character of this story. She is somewhat awkward, but good natured. Shy, but determined. There are two ‘servants’ the serve her, Lacy (more of a lady’s maid) and Esther. Both have their own stories, good and bad, that come out throughout the book. I’d hope to see more of them in future books. Then there is Charles, Thomas (the Speaker), and Nathaniel that all crop up as ‘love interests’ for a variety of reasons. This is the novels’ strength—its characters. The variety and diverse group of characters has the ability to capture the reader’s heart. I invested in them rather quickly and was impressed by the authors ability to create such variety.
This was introduced to me as a sweet romance but I wouldn’t categorize it as such. The romance is very secondary to the fantasy plot. Especially considering there is a lot of court politics that drive this story forward, although this has a bit of a ‘origin story’ feel to it. That being said there is a slow burning romance that is sweet. It takes a while to get there (more than half the book) but you’re probably invested by then! I don’t want to ruin any of the plot lines but there are aspects of it that seemed farfetched. For example, I just couldn’t believe that a queen would send her ONLY heir across country with only ONE guard. It felt like a plot device, not something real people would decide, which took away from the authentic feel of the book.
The writing was engaging the interesting once the story gets flowing. It is a little slow at the start but the back and forth between Gwen’s ‘present’ and the diary entries she is making about her past make it an enjoyable page turner. The setting was complete and you got a feel for the world around Gwen. Fair warning there was really modern dialogue that was jarring at times—especially considering the implication of time—although that may be due to YA nature of the novel. I would have preferred it less often considering it is listed as historical fantasy.
There was also a noticeable religious theme—so be warned if this isn’t your thing. Much of the progression was predictable, but that isn’t abnormal for young adult books. That being said the characters were the best aspect of the novel by far! Overall, I did enjoy it and would be interested in reading future books to see where these characters go.
3.5 (rounded down)
Not a romance, but great characters that you can’t help but like!
Where did I get it?
Author provided a copy to me in exchange for an honest review. This review is voluntary.