Princess Tess is excited to learn that her handsome new suitor has arrived. But when she is caught spying on him, she learns a shattering truth: she isn't the real heir, but just a decoy to lure assassins away from the real Princess, kept safe in a nunnery. Then her world is further shattered as her suitor turns out to be planning to take over the country through treachery. Setting out to rescue the real princess, she discovers that she is in fact a key player in an even deeper game.
This is another book not to judge by its cover, which looks quite light-hearted. This is actually quite grim and gritty in places, with quite a bit of gore, although there is quite a light touch overall, as Tess struggles with surviving in the world outside her previously pampered existence. And the fact that the good guys aren't necessarily that good, and the bad guys aren't necessarily all bad, and everyone seems to have some hidden secret, makes it interesting enough that I'll be reading the second in the series.
!!! Warning -- spoilers for The Decoy Princess !!!
Tess is no longer the Crown Princess of Costenopolie -- she has discovered that she is just a beggar's child, reared as a decoy for the real heir. But now Queen Contessa has acknowledged Tess as her sister, and as a Princess in her own right, and appointed her as the Costenopolie's Ambassador to Misdev, home country of the Queen's new husband, Prince Alex. But what the queen doesn't know is that Tess is a player in a deadly secret game manipulating the people of both countries. And when they are all kidnapped by pirates, Tess might not be able to keep herself alive long enough to rescue her Queen.
Again, the light-hearted tone of the cover belies some of the darkness inside, as Tess and her sister suffer at the pirates', and others, hands. Tess has a particularly hard time of it. She has grown up, toughened up, a little from the previous book, and has to grow up a lot more by the end of this one. A good, fast-paced adventure, with a heroine whose powers are growing along with her responsibilities.