It seems simple enough, the life of a princess: dancing, strolling, being courted by handsome princes. The twelve royal sisters of Westfalin want for nothing that their father can provide - so why, then, are their lives overshadowed by a nameless curse that no amount of determined princes can break? Worse, why does each prince meet death shortly after his failure...and will the same fate befall the curious and goodhearted ex-soldier Galen?
The morality in this story is, for the most part, well-defined. The hero, heroine, and those on their side are all good people with the right motives, and their enemies are undeniably evil. One character makes an ambiguous decision that is left to the reader to judge.
The story seems to be set in a vaguely Catholic society, though that aspect of the setting doesn’t play a huge part in the plot. Of the two bishop characters, one is evil and manipulative while the other is a good and strong man. Minor magic is used to combat evil.
Occasionally Galen reminisces about his time in the war, but he doesn’t go into graphic detail. Several deaths occur "off-screen"; two characters are shot and cut with a whip; a few characters are pricked with rose-thorns.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Wine and brandy are drunk, and cigars are smoked.
There are several romances, including one between the two main characters; all of them are sweet and chaste. One kiss is exchanged.
Crude or Profane Language or Content
Swearing is mentioned, but there is no actual language except for one instance of "Saints preserve us."
In the tradition of Robin McKinley and Gail Carson Levine, this retelling featured well-developed characters, a sweet narrative voice, and several clever twists in the storyline. There aren't many layers to the story - what you see on the surface is what you get out of it - but it made for a quick and entertaining read. The romance was predictable yet tastefully done, and I particularly loved the heroine's interactions with her sisters.