That’s the question facing Princess Aniri, Third Daughter to the Queen of Dharia.
It’s two weeks until Aniri turns eighteen and can choose to marry her beau–Devesh, a courtesan and emissary from Samir. Her two older sisters have already married men that complement their station, even when love is not present, and Aniri is determined to follow her heart, not her duty.
Especially when her duty involves marrying Prince Malik, heir to the throne of the barbarous northern Jungali provinces. No. No! NO!
Except, Aniri knows she can’t decline outright–and rumors of a Jungali airship weapon are serious indeed. If Aniri accepts the prince’s proposal she can get close enough to find out if the airship is real–and maybe she can help her homeland and her mother’s Queendom figure out how to avoid a war.
Prince Malik makes it easy on Aniri–he tells her their marriage would be one of business. That she could (discreetly) take a lover if she wished. Hmm… And her mother, the Queen, assures her that the choice is hers.
Aniri does what she must–becomes a spy. I loved her reactions to the “barbarians” she encounters on her journey north! Oh, how sweet to have her realize, “Hey, they’re pretty awesome in their own way!” Then Devesh shows up and tells her the airship is a ruse–a trick to get her to marry Malik. After which she will be killed and her beloved country Dharia overrun by Samir and Jungali. Aniri doesn’t know who to believe, and espionage is not her strong suit. The political intrigue is high and Aniri barely escapes an attempt on her life.
The tension is fierce throughout. Each new chapter brings Aniri closer to either love, or death. We get a fantastic steampunk world, with an East Indian flair, and a strong female main character who picks up the ball and runs her hardest. Even when she fumbles, Aniri is worthy of cheers because she learns from her mistakes and never quits.
What I hadn’t expected, and thoroughly adored, was Malik’s assistance. He realizes his only shot at peace is this marriage, and he’s willing to trust a confessed spy with the biggest military secret of his country. Aniri could never have learned what was necessary to save her people without Malik earning her forever trust. And Devesh? Well, perhaps an on-the-side lover isn’t the best place for him in the Jungali court. In the end, Aniri does choose her own husband. And she chooses very well indeed.
Three words to describe this Third Daughter? Indomitable. Passionate. Resourceful. She’s my kind of heroine.
And, can I say the cover is exquisite? The internal art (chapter headings and section breaks) is just as lovely, and speaks volumes about the care that went into making this book.
So, a bit of disclosure: I have known the delightful Susan Kaye Quinn for going on four years. We are longtime critique partners and I’ve read everything she’s published (except the INDIE GUIDE TO SELF PUBLISHING). THIRD DAUGHTER is, in fact, the first book I received from Sue as a freebie for the purpose of review. I absolutely LOVED it, and would recommend it to any YA reader. Its smidgeon of passion–some swoony kisses–won’t make you blush, but will get your heart beating.
Interested? You can find THIRD DAUGHTER at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and kobo. It comes out today, so HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY, THIRD DAUGHTER!
*tosses confetti* *releases balloons to the sky*
About the Fantastic Susan Kaye Quinn: