Synopsis: What if the prince didn’t throw the ball to meet his true love? What if he was trying to save her life instead?
Since the murder of her gifted mother, Elaina has been sheltered on her father’s ship. But when Elaina’s secret is compromised, she must return to land and live under the king’s protection…much to Elaina’s objection.
Ashland’s crown prince, Nicholas, has never been without. He is, however, facing a deadly foe who preys on his gifted citizens and a possible civil war. So when he meets Elaina, Nicholas delights in insisting she shares her military expertise gained on her father’s ship. He gets more than he bargains for, though, when he finds that he might have fallen for the one girl who refuses to fall for his charms.
A dark turn of events finds Elaina exiled and forced into servitude, a civil war declared, and the murderer bloodthirstier than ever. Can Nicholas and Elaina defeat the dark forces that have poisoned their kingdom…and find their own happy ending as well?
Victims murdered by cuts slit in their temples. The mystery is solved, as it’s witnessed that gifts are stolen from the ‘gifted’ by murdering them like that, and inserting Sortheilage in the cuts. There are several battles and tales of war. Elaina is flogged.
Nicholas is never seen without a girl on his arm- he flirts with every female in the vicinity, and most of the girls at court have had their hearts broken by him. However, this changes when he meets Elaina.
Nicholas’ father has many mistresses, which is seen in as wrong and portrayed in a negative light. Nicholas’ mother is a woman who forgives and loves, even when wronged.
Elaina and Nicholas kiss.
Wine, beer, mead drank throughout. As a distraction, someone pretends to be drunk.
Nicholas’ struggles to respect his father, who is a lazy and immoral man. Elaina, when forced to slavery, obeys her mistress under penalty of consequence (like flogging). She helps her fellow slaves escape.
Nicholas, a crown prince, learns how to lead and rule well, using his authority with wisdom.
Same as the other books in the series, they pray to the Maker. They live by the Holy Writ. Elaina’s gift is to hear the stars, who talk to on behalf of the Maker.
Overall feel: A story with many highs and lows, and with a heroine who learns the meaning of strength and a hero who learns the meaning of loyalty and leadership. The romance is clean, and violence is not a big factor in the book. However, as a result of the enemy stealing gifts through murder and a dark power, it may seem a little dark at times.