Jilted at the altar, a princess teams up with a tempting stranger to find her missing fiance.
Princess Theodora Isabella Victoria is second in line to the crown of the fictitious Kingdom of Drieden, described as a “tiny coastal nation on the bony shoulder of Europe.” When her fiance, Christian Fraser-Campbell, the ninth Duke of Steading, fails to show up to their wedding, Thea’s grandmother, Queen Aurelia, has her spend four months on Perpetua, an island in the North Sea where “they used to send the women who couldn’t be controlled.” One night shortly after her return, Thea slips away to a pub and meets Nick, a “dark and rough, but not altogether objectionable” Scot who flirts with her, kisses her, and then tries to blackmail her into getting him information about a lost family property. But she soon learns that Nick is actually Christian’s brother, and the information he seeks could overturn the entire Drieden monarchy. With everything to lose and no one to trust, Thea decides to join Nick in his quest to find out what happened to Christian before anyone else is hurt. The royal family lore is charming, from King Henry III, who in 1650 condemned colonization as “a foolish, wasteful enterprise,” to the court astrologer, Sybil, who consults the stars (and other intel) to advise Thea. The progressive princess proves to be as resilient as she is rebellious. Even when her throne is threatened, she insists that “human lives are more important than our culture!” Under her reign, “happily ever after” gets a refreshing update.
This imaginative, absorbing, and empowering story is a must-read.