Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Provided Synopsis: 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 stranglehold 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 rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.
Review: Unfortunately, I am not quite sure what this book attempted to accomplish. A majority of the story read like an aimless soap opera void of any strong intent. Princess Marie-Victoria does not want to marry the Crown Prince of Prussia; she is in love with her guard and wishes to escape with him to a simple life. In order to leave her position Marie asks her childhood friend, Aelwyn — a sorceress — to use her magic to take Marie’s face and become the princess. Aelwyn has always been attracted to Prince Leopold and coveted what the princess had, so this arrangement appears to work for her. Meanwhile, Leopold had been engaged to Isabelle, who is a descendent from the deposed French royal family; she is not happy to be tossed over and plots to win her prince back. Then, there is Ronan Astor, who is an American in search of a titled husband during the London season; she falls in love with the second son of Prussia, Prince Wolf, on a sea voyage. Now here is the kicker: None of these characters have very much interaction with each other to make the culmination of all these point-of-view’s relevant.
The larger problem, however, is that nothing happens in this book until the very end. Characters suddenly reveal they have had suspicions about others all along, and conspiracies are brought into light — everything is so rushed, like it was thrown in at the last minute to get to the resolution. In my opinion, there should have been build-up to all this turmoil in order to make a strong impact and give the story an urgent tone that extended beyond the tangle of love affairs that were occurring. I wanted to see high stakes and to feel something, but the connection to this book never came. The alternative-history universe of a joint British-Franco Empire with Merlin as the power behind the crown was interesting, yet the plot never went much into the exploration of this world or the extent of the power of magic. With things being as they are at the end of this book, I imagine there will be a sequel and on the next attempt I hope the author delves deeper into politics rather than affairs of the heart. If people have suspicions of others’ intentions, then please reveal that to the reader so we might form a connection and begin an investigation into other’s actions as well. Also, I would really like the story to be solely about Marie, Prince Wolf, and Aelwyn since they are the only ones of interest, aren’t they?