Cecily Wallace is an unlikely match for the great Duke of Gwent. Fifteen, peculiar, and perpetually barefoot, she has lived a sheltered life under the vigilant care of her father, Stephen Wallace, the uneasy Earl of Cardiff.
Despite her upbringing, and devotion to Roland Bristow (a lowly painters' apprentice), Cecily finds herself arranged in a noble engagement. Anguished over the forced betrothal, she relies on her only option: to disappear. Fortunately, an offbeat soothsayer produces a curious set of rings, which, unbeknownst to Cecily and Roland, allow a couple safe passage--through time. Their grasp of the magic is limited, however, and on the day of their departure, Roland disappears in a cloud of glittering fog, leaving Cecily alone (and somewhat unhinged).
It is nearly a year later (and in the wake of her elevation to a beloved, albeit willful, duchess) that Cecily finally understands the full potential of the rings. The discovery has tragic consequences, but in the end, leads her to Roland. It is upon reuniting at a modern-day high school that they are both faced with a terrible reality: Cecily is unable to remember her past.
Etham presents a mix of historical and contemporary themes to the young adult genre (consider Daughter of Smoke and Bone meets Jane Eyre). With the unexpected element of time travel (whimsical, not sci-fi), readers will find an eerie adventure with romantic roots.
First 150 Words:
There was a calm wind the morning she finally won her father over. A scrawny girl with small features, she followed behind her mother at a distance and held his hand, but his gaze was on the lady before them, and he eyed the motion of her dress as she glided in front.
The young girl shook his hand as she looked up at him.
"Darling girl," he replied without losing focus.
She continued with her script.
"I am certain that of all beasts, dogs are the most clever, even more than horses."
The man laughed at this and, familiar with his part, squeezed the small hand a bit tighter.
"Nicolette," he called out, "it seems that our daughter would, on this day, defy her parents and country and declare horses to be inferior creatures. What say you, Lady Cardiff?"
The lady turned, smiling, reflecting the brightness in her blue eyes into those of her husband's.