Author: Richelle Mead
Series: The Glittering Court Series (Book One)
Format: ebook via Library
Synopsis: Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.
Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.
When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.
But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…
I initially read the sneak peek of The Glittering Court on NetGalley, awhile ago. I wanted to continue the story but the cost of the ebook was prohibitive. So, instead, I put in a request at my library and the ebook finally became available, yesterday. I still had a good memory of the first part I had already read, so I just picked up where I left off.
In our story, we have a countess who wishes to flee an unwanted betrothal. She sees an opportunity to escape when she meets Cedric, a young man who is looking to recruit attractive servants for his father's business of transforming common women into ladies for profitable marriage purposes. Hoping this will give her the freedom she desperately wants, our countess poses as her servant and sneaks into Cedric's carriage.
Adelaide, as she is now known, is discovered by Cedric. He knows her true identity, but she is able to convince him to help her and keep her secret. Together, they develop a partnership that will be beneficial to the both of them.
Once they arrive at their destination, we learn more about Cedric's family's business. The process involves a lengthy finishing school and series of tests to rank the ladies according to their value, coordinating each with a precious gemstone. Thus, it is named The Glittering Court.
This part did drag on a bit, but I was entertained enough to continue. The goal is to take the newly polished women to the new world of Adoria where they will be presented to unmarried men and expected to convince those men to bid for their hand. The ladies have their choice of husband but the shinier the package, the better the prospects.
Once the girls' lessons and transformations are complete, the ladies are loaded onto two ships and they set sail for Adoria. But then there comes the storm...
However, Adelaide's smoldering yearning for Cedric begins to turn into a full-on flame. I think the author does a good job of slowly building the tension and need between the two characters, until they can no longer ignore their feelings for one another. The knowing looks and sly smiles are unavoidable as their romance grows.
Soon, neither of them want this marriage-to-the-highest-bidder plan to continue. But before they can alter their strategy to find a better outcome, in which they can be together, all hell breaks loose!
I won't go into details of what happens, but I will say that it pleasantly reminded me of The Little House on the Prairie, which happens to be my second favorite book series of all time. I really enjoyed this part of the story. I realize not everyone will, but I did.
The ending came with several surprises and left me with many questions, which I assume I'll find the answers to in the companion novels.