Princess Marie-Victoria of the Franco-British Empire must marry Leopold, the Prussian prince to secure peace between their nations. The story is told from several points-of-view that reiterates the plight of women throughout history when they must sell themselves to the highest bidder to secure their position in society or save a kingdom. Princess Marie-Victoria, raised by Queen Eleanor who has reigned for over 100 years, faces duty to country while yearning for love. Aelwyn, the Merlin’s magical daughter and best friend to the princess, must choose between power and duty. Prince Wolfgang, brother to Prince Leopold is the spare heir and can do as he pleases and is possibly the only player who can marry by choice. Ronan Astor, the American debutante, is sent to London for the courting season tasked with landing a rich husband to save the family from financial ruin. Misused and discarded Isabelle of French royal blood rounds out the troupe that dances around Prince Leopold and the impending marriage.
This book defies labels. It is not exactly alternate history, rather political fantasy that mirrors an alternate European history if Merlin had lived a very long time. He is the power behind the throne since King Arthur and into the 1900s. Excellent characters, rapid storytelling, exquisite imagery and a delicious plot introduce the first book in this new series. Another winner from Melissa de la Cruz. Best for older teens. Highly recommend.
NetGalley review Publication date 4.1.14