Following the death of Sage’s peasant father, a fowler who taught Sage all he knew, Sage is taken in by her noble uncle. She is a natural teacher and tutors his children until she reaches the age for marriage. Arranged marriages are the norm for the noble class. Sage tried to play the role of the obedient, helpless, young lady. Alas, it was clear she did not meet the qualifications to be matched. Sage is too independent, too outdoorsy, too inquisitive to be matched. Instead, she apprentices with the aging matchmaker. The matchmaker for the kingdom strives to make matches that best suit the temperament of the available noble men and women while also making the political matches that best suit their families. Sage is to observe the girls the matchmaker has chosen as they all caravan across the kingdom to the big marriage ceremony.
Captain Quinn is a career military officer. His father is the General. Even his little brother is in the army. Quinn is also protective of his cousin, the Crown Prince who is in his unit. Quinn’s unit is assigned to escort the matchmaker’s brides to the ceremony, stopping along the way at the fortress of a noble suspected of rebellious activity. Quinn suspects a plot to create an alliance with a neighboring kingdom and to kidnap the Crown Prince. Quinn uses Sage as a spy when things get tricky. Plots and scheming abound as Quinn and Sage work to thwart a violent rebellion.
The author shows the differences of the social classes and how noble families use women as pawns to gain political strength. Sage is a strong protagonist: smart, inquisitive, adaptable, instigator. She is instantly likeable as is Captain Quinn. Quinn is the duty-bound career soldier, loyal to his kingdom and his family. The story moves at a brisk pace and never bogs down. Just enough character introspection to flesh out the characters and draw the reader in. A bit of romance dots the action sequences and the character plot twists are excellent. The political strategizing is well conceived and executed. For the reader who enjoys the political maneuvering in a kingdom, this is a very good read. It had my attention the entire length of the novel. The first in a planned trilogy, I hope to read more about all the characters. Even the secondary characters are interesting. Well done!
eGalley review Publication date 5.9.17