Princess Ursula of Valborough wants nothing more to improve the lives of her sister’s poorest subjects, but reading and writing aren’t priorities for mothers whose husbands remain prisoners of war. When the King of Heyton offers marriage, Ursula sees an opportunity to use herself as leverage to bring her countrymen home, but it would means giving up a future with the man she’s always loved.
Prince Gideon of Heyton would love to serve his kingdom, but he is relegated to diplomatic work while his warrior cousins advance in ranks of King Killian’s court. He reluctantly accepts his uncle’s mission to Valborough. He’s a safe choice, after all. What princess would be tempted by a crippled stand-in when she would soon be in the bed of a king? After a rapid proxy wedding and awkward night in the bridal chamber, Gideon escorts Ursula home only to learn Killian has died. To free her people, Ursula must take the reigns of a country she’s never seen from people who have a head start on remaking Heyton as they please.
When she uncovers something hidden for more than twenty-five years, Ursula suspects Gideon is not simply a crippled diplomat, Killian didn’t die of natural causes, and he’s not the only casualty of a long-game plot to seize the throne of Heyton.