Too much imagination was tantamount to lying―that’s what my grandmother taught me. So when I first got the sense that someone was following me, I ignored it. Who’d waste time following me?
Me, being Aurelia Kim Murray, a grad student from California with a passion for ballet and fencing, and a hopelessly romantic vision of the world. I had some to Europe to track down my grandparents’ families, but so far I’d had no luck.
I couldn’t explain the sense of urgency that drove me, even to myself. It has begun that day four months ago when my grandmother lay restlessly in her bed, her eyes glittering with fever as she gripped my hand. “Your mother is too gentle,” she’s whispered in her aristocratic Parisian French. “I cannot send her to steal the breach.”
Breach? What breach? With her family? With my grandfather’s family? Neither Mom nor I knew anything about Grandmother’s family or the handsome man in the silver-framed photo that Gran always kept on her bedside table.
“She wouldn’t talk about her life before California,” my mom has said, as we waited in yet another specialist’s office, hoping to find out why, though Gran had recovered from her fever, she had not spoken since.
Nothing had come of my search in Paris, or Vienna, and no matter how fast I walked along the grand boulevards, I knew I couldn’t outpace my sense of failure.
And that’s when I met my first ghost.
But seeing ghosts wasn’t my biggest problem. I was being followed, and I was about to find out more about my lineage than I had ever imagined possible in my wildest, most fanciful dreams…or nightmares.
History aficionado and champion fencer Aurelia Kim Murray investigates her taciturn grandmother's European roots and her own identity in Smith's sweeping, feminist Ruritanian romance. Kidnapped by Prince Alec Ysvorod, who mistakes her for his not-much-beloved fianc e, the slightly-too-perfect Kim is thrust into the complicated and potentially deadly politics of a small, haunted kingdom threatened equally by its neighbors as by its scheming ruling families. Smith (Inda) engages readers with humor and rapier-sharp wit, and extensive details from Central European history (right down to a 19th-century method of stamping coins) make the nation of Dobrenica terrifically real. Though readers who prefer lightning-paced books may stumble over long sections of expository conversations, a lively heroine, mysterious ghosts, and a complex and intricate plot always get the action going again.