I've had The Decoy Princess and the following book Princess at Sea in my TBR for a long time, but haven't gotten around to reading them till now. It feels like it's been a while since I read a straight fantasy so it was a nice change of genres. I also have Cooks Truth series and I read the first one of the four, First Truth. That one was a bit slow for me so I haven't started Hidden Truth yet, but the Princess series is a newer work and the premise seemed more intriguing to me so I decided to take a look.
The title says it all - a princess discovers that she was really plucked from the streets as a baby, to be used as a decoy for the real princess of Costenopolie. Unfortunately, she discovers this truth at the same time her betrothed Prince Garrett does, and as second son of a neighboring kingdom with a chip on his sleeve, he reacts with violent anger at being duped. At first I thought that Tessa was superficial and spoiled, but once she discovers who she really is and things start to hit the fan, she quickly adapts and manages to escape the palace on her own. Her plan is to find her sister, the real princess, and Kravenlow, her parent's chancellor, but she is being pursued by Garrett's Captain of the guard, a formidable man named Jeck. Along the way she also meets a cheat named Duncan, who admires Tess for her smarts, but also urges her to throw off her responsibilities and run away with him. The story is told from the first person viewpoint of Tessa, which seems to add to the urgency of the writing. It also felt more real - there was so much detail about how dirty and beat up Tess got from her travelling I wanted to take a shower or soak in the bath. Adding to everything is that Tess, Jeck and Kravenlow are all part of a huge game controlled by hidden "players" who influence history according to their own rules. Book 2 continues about six months or so after book one, and without spoilers it all starts during her sister's honeymoon voyage with her new husband on board Tess' boat. Hmm, can't say much more than that.
Both books followed the same pattern where at first I was just reading along but not really sucked in, and then something would happen and I just had to know what happened next. I admit I did skim ahead because I was really really curious, but then made myself come back and read it properly. There were a few surprises, and unexpected angst. I found most of the characters had layers which got slowly peeled back as time went by, and some things get revealed that I sort of expected, yet didn't quite see it going down that way. Tess is also at turns quite quick thinking, but also blind/dumb when it came to people she really loved. So her weaknesses seem to be linked to naivete, and it's quite painful for her when she realizes them. Once the end of the books came, it felt that the author had planned out the character arcs and plots really well. Both books hint through prophetic dreams at what will happen, but they didn't give me much information and left me only tantalized. I felt rather satisfied by the final result, but I'd like to keep reading about Tess and I'm a bit sad I can't find any information about a third book (I really hope there is one). Dawn Cook's website is very sparse on the details. I know she writes under another name but those books aren't straight fantasy like this. Sigh, I plan to keep my eye out. And to get around to reading the Truth series sooner.
Recommended if you like:
Moira Moore's Hero series (the travelling and action seems similar)
Mindy Klasky's Glasswright series (for the secret society that can trump even kings)
Maria V. Snyder's Study series (Jeck/Tess' relationship reminds me a little of Valek/Yelena's)
Excerpt of book 1 - The Decoy Princess
Excerpt of book 2 - The Princess at Sea
Originally posted on janicu.vox.com