With all the timeless enchantment of a modern fairy tale, Emma Chase weaves another delightfully romantic royal affair as we return to Wessco to finally learn how a young Queen Lenora found the man of her dreams. We’ve only known her as the controlling but well-meaning grandmother figure to Princes Nicholas and Henry, but from the few and scattered references to her own past throughout the series, we’ve always known her own love story must have been remarkable. Part sweeping romance, part tale of a young woman defying conventions to carve her own legacy, Lenora’s story was everything I hoped it would be and much, much more.
“Some part of your husband will always resent you.”
“You’re a smart girl—you tell me why.”
I think about all I know and all I’ve seen, and the answer isn’t difficult. “Men don’t like to bow. To anyone. But especially not to a woman—to their wife.”
As we travel back in time, we meet Princess Lenora Celeste Beatrice Arabella Pembrook as she begins to embrace the life and role she was born into, and as the story takes us through some the most trying moments of her young life, we watch Lenora overcome personal tragedies with the strength and dignity she would demonstrate throughout her life. But even with a strong sense of public duty and tradition ingrained in her from childhood, young Lenora remains an independent thinker who continues to question the world around her. And once she ascends to the throne, Lenora becomes determined to be the kind of ruler who would make her country better, often going against the counsel of her ministers and advisors.
I will not float like a feather caught in a current, while others pull me in the direction they want and make my choices for me.
But as first Queen Regnant of Wessco, and an unmarried one at that, Lenora’s radical ideas are immediately met with opposition and resistance, until it becomes clear to her that the only way to change the world is by picking her battles wisely, even if it means agreeing to something she never planned on doing—finding a husband.
“Parliament must have assurances. With all due respect, Your Majesty, they are concerned that you are a woman. They worry your ideas may be somewhat radical or . . . hysterical. They believe a husband would curb you of such tendencies.”
Once an heir to a dukedom, Edward Rourke has spent the past decade of his youth chasing adventure and excitement, but also searching for a true purpose in life. When a telegram from his younger brother suddenly summons him back home, the last thing Edward ever expected was to meet his future wife on his first day back in Wessco, but as tragedy quickly leads to a royal betrothal, an intrepid adventurer soon becomes the Prince of Wessco and Royal Consort to the Queen herself.
“She’s the most alone person in the whole world.”
“She’s the bloody Queen! She’s surrounded by people every moment of every day.”
“And yet she has no one. No one who cares about her. Not really. No one but me . . . and I hope, soon . . . you.”
Though the impetus for their marriage might not have been a romantic one, Lenora and Edward’s relationship quickly grows into a loving and passionate attachment between them, with all the makings of a perfect fairytale. Edward settles easily into his role of doting husband, his innate protectiveness and unrestrained nature beginning to ease the young Queen’s loneliness, and in his love for her, he finally finds his true purpose.
“Won’t you miss it? Won’t you miss the freedom, the adventure?”
“Making a life with you will be my greatest adventure, Lenora.”
By giving us a strong female lead whose very birthright puts her in a position of dominance over the man she marries, and a confident leading man who is not intimidated by her power, Emma Chase delivers something rare and understatedly breathtaking through Lenora and Edward’s story—a romance that turns traditional gender roles on their head. The perfect blend of romance and steam, this was the perfect addition to an outstanding series, and one I recommend wholeheartedly.
I was made for this . . . for her. To cherish her, protect her and challenge her, to guide her and follow her—to be the man she needs, so she can be the woman, the queen, she was always meant to be.