Author: Marissa Meyer.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans. (Published summary.)
Set in a Victorian Wonderland, with a delightful mix of history, whimsy, and just the right amount of references to Carroll’s books, Heartless is the story of the girl who would become the Queen of Hearts. I delighted in it. To be sure, the romance was fast-paced (Flirting at their first meeting? Come on.) and the final chapters were rushed (how do you pack that much action into that number of pages) but the imagery and prose was lovely and wonderland unexpectedly delightful.
Our heroine is a determined, talented young lady, and her character arc is masterfully worked out. After I finished, I could see how the seeds of the ending had been there, well hidden, in the beginning, in her temper and her passion and her dreams.
Sexual content: One scene of fairly intense kissing. Mild spoken innuendo.
Violence: Second-hand account of a monster breaking into a courtroom and snatching two courtiers. MC then sees this monster carry off another (sentient) character. One character kills another with an axe. Character decapitates a transformed beast (who used to be human). Character breaks her ankle.