As Rosemarie’s eighteenth birthday nears, she prepares to fulfill the sacred vow her parents made and become a nun. She struggles to accept this role even as her kingdom is in turmoil at the hands of a sheriff who enforces cruel punishment and unexplained plagues that ravage the poorest citizens. Then, one month before her birthday, an old family friend rides into her kingdom with news: Rosemarie may have another option. If she can find and marry her true love before midnight on her eighteenth birthday, she will not have to enter the convent. Three knights accompany Rosemarie’s advisor. She must find out if one of them is her true love.
I felt like this story was kind of like the Ever After retelling of Cinderella, but with the Prince and Cinderella’s character kind of reversed? I really liked the concept of having this really short timeline to find out which man is Rosemarie’s true love and what is love and that sort of thing, with the clock counting down in the background.
One of the things I always struggle with in reading medieval stories is the way the writing, especially in dialogue, can be extremely stilted. I shall see what may be done about this unfortunate circumstance, etc. I tend not to enjoy that sort of thing because it’s just not how I imagine the characters talking and it sounds really forced to me. But that’s a personal preference. If you prefer that style, this is definitely a book to check out.
There were a couple of plot issues that I kind of hiccuped over, too. The largest was the idea that Rosemarie would become a nun and still also rule her kingdom. I guess I thought that you had to forsake worldly goods when you join a convent. I’m not sure if that’s a faulty perception on my part, or if I was supposed to willingly suspend my disbelief in the reading of this story. Either way, I understand why the stakes were set up that way, but it confused me. I kept wanting someone in the story to be like, yeah, but remember how King What’s-His-Beard was a monk and still ruled? Something to kind of let me off the hook for wondering. But alas.
The romance element of the story was very sweet. I liked that she had to kind of work out what was important to her in terms of choosing a husband and that her chosen knight shared her values. There were definitely some things that happened I didn’t expect, so that was good, too. The plot definitely wasn’t as simple as I expected it to be. I liked that.
The cover art and some of the way the story is told reminded me a bit of Melanie Dickerson’s novels. I’ve reviewed The Princess Spy here if you want to check it out.
Because of some brief graphic description of torture, this might not be a great pick for tweens, though the other parts of the story are certainly light enough. See below for more information on content.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
There’s some sexual tension between Rosemarie and the three knights. She wonders repeatedly what it will be like to kiss them. There is one kiss in the book.
Rosemarie has grown up believing that when she turns eighteen, she’ll have to become a nun because of a vow her parents made when they received help from a holy artifact to conceive her. When Rosemarie feels troubled, she spends time in prayer and seeks council from a trusted advisor within the church.
Rosemarie is passionately opposed to the use of torture to punish her people for even serious crimes. The local sheriff disregards her wishes and tortures several criminals by various methods which are described briefly. Torture comes up several more times throughout the story. The most graphic description, I thought was when a woman’s head is placed in some kind of restraining device so that her tongue can be removed. That scene lasts a bit longer than the others, and had more painful descriptions.
A goblet of ale is poisoned at a feast.