In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.
On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.
This novel is fairly intense; although the beginning had a bit of a slow start, as the novel evolved, I found myself completely wrapped up in the world that Pearson has created in this fantastical novel. Lia is a well-written, layered character, and as the story progresses we learn so much about her. She is strong-willed, compassionate, devious, and good-hearted all in one, and getting to know her was an absolute joy. Her plight is one that, while I don’t identify with from personal experience, I completely understand—if you’ve ever found yourself in a situation with no decent possible outcomes, then you, too, will be able to connect with Lia’s thoughts and feelings as this novel unfolds.
Reader beware, tissues are a necessity. I was not expecting it in the least, but Pearson definitely made me ugly cry on multiple occasions as I read. There are some awful situations that leave the characters destitute and destroyed, and as Pearson wove the story, I found myself caring for even those I thought I hated. Thankfully, the novel is not too graphic when it comes to the gruesomeness that is war, and the novel is 100% clean as well, which is an added bonus, but know going in that when you least expect, Lia’s world will come crashing down on you. I wept more times than I can count, but I loved it just the same. Pearson has created a poignancy that permeates the story, and it’s amazing.
In terms of other characters, I found myself falling hard for Rafe almost instantly. It’s the tragic “what if” scenario—if either Rafe or Lia had to have submitted to their impending marriage, none of the tragedy would have ensued, but at the same time, neither would have the love. For Lia and Rafe’s sake, I wish they would have gone along with the pressures of their society in this one instance, but I loved their story just the same. Pearson really draws the reader in with her characterization and pacing, and I highly recommend picking up this novel.
I will admit that the cliffhanger in this one made me angry, though. It’s such a great story, and about 80% in I knew there weren’t enough pages left for it to have a satisfactory conclusion—and it didn’t. We are left with an awful cliffhanger that just isn’t fair—I need book two now. Four stars.