I picked up this book because of a recommendation, but still had some difficulty getting into it at first. However, once I connected to the story, I couldn’t put it down. I realized the problem came because of the title, not because of the story, so I’m going to “spoil” the book for you despite my normal efforts not to. The spoilage is this: the knowledge that she is a decoy, despite being something Tess is unaware of for the first 31 pages, is only the tip of the iceberg where the book is concerned.
I became so wrapped up in the fact that she didn’t know what was splayed across the cover that I almost missed out on how astute and inappropriate for her apparent heritage Tess was. It was the last, the strength of characterization, that kept me going despite the title giving away the show, or so I thought.
Tess is so much more than I gave her credit for being. The slightly spoiled but restricted princess of the beginning, the young woman dreaming of true love and happiness, soon shows her resilience and strong core as her world is shaken again and again.
This is where I can’t go into detail. Anything beyond what I’ve said already will be a true spoiler. Just accept the title is only a fraction of the complexity, intrigue, and adventure found in the novel as a whole. And just so you don’t think I’m dismissive of the true love aspect, there are relationships along the way that make Tess examine her assumptions and loyalties, while inspiring the same in others.
This is a fantasy/political intrigue with both strategy and chases. Things are never simple. When Tess thinks she has a grasp on the situation, she often learns the picture she’s laid claim to contains only half of what she needs to know to understand, while she must set aside the palace habits in favor of judging people by different standards and recognizing the motivations that drive them.
It’s fun and an easy read, but at the same time, there’s more than enough going on to keep me committed to the story and curious about where the next volume will take Tess.