To protect the kingdom of Morrighan, Princess Lia has been betrothed to the prince of another kingdom. But on the day of her wedding, Lia runs away with her servant, Pauline, to go work in a tavern because she's afraid the prince will turn out to be some old man. But shortly after she starts working, two strangers show up in the village—the prince and an assassin from another kingdom whose current mission is to kill Lia. Lia finds herself falling for one of them, even as the kingdoms find themselves closer to the brink of war.
I found myself annoyed with Lia a lot as I read. She's been told over and over again how important this marriage is for the sake of her kingdom. But because she's not sure if her husband is going to be hot or not, Lia runs away. She cares more about that than the fate of her kingdom, and that just frustrates me. Lia thinks that the prince is not a true man because he just went along with the arranged marriage instead of finding a wife for himself. Yeah, the guy who put the needs of his own kingdom ahead of his own desires isn't a true man. How dare he actually think the safety of his own kingdom ranks higher than true love? I really would like to read a book featuring an arranged marriage where both people recognize that the political alliance is incredibly important and that the two people can grow to love each other over time. Marrying for love only really became common in recent times.
When Lia wasn't infuriating me with her views on the marriage she ditched and what makes a true man, I actually did like her most of the time. She was pretty naive about how things worked for non-royalty, which made sense for a sheltered princess. She had this idealized vision of what life for peasants was like, and she wanted it. I did wish that she had a harder time adjusting to her new life. The idealized life she imagined is pretty much what she got, which is a bit ridiculous. She had hardly any troubles adjusting to working in a tavern and never faced any real consequences for talking back to soldiers. Lia didn't really have to face hardships when she ran away. Everything was just given to her, which I felt was a big missed opportunity for personal growth for Lia.
I loved the fact that she had strong relationships with multiple women in the story. They played a big role in her new life, and it was nice to read a book without girl hate.
Then we have the assassin and the prince who come into town. Both fall for Lia almost immediately, of course. What was an interesting choice was not revealing which boy was which for most of the book. While we get chapters from their perspectives, the book is always careful about not giving away their identities so that you're left wondering if you're are reading from the assassin's point of view or the prince's. I only guessed who was who after Lia started falling for one. And even then it wasn't because the book gave it away. It was because(show spoiler)
The book did finally get to the point where Lia realized that her actions had major consequences for her kingdom, although she only came to that realization after someone she knew suffered those consequences. The plot starts to pick up at this point with things really beginning to happen. I got frustrated again with how little Lia actually has to face hardship.(show spoiler)
Despite the dragging of the story in the middle and the frustration Lia often caused me, I did enjoy the book. The world held potential, and I do want to see where it goes next.