"I really have no choice," I said, confident he would acknowledge the difficulty of my circumstances.17-year-old Alera is Crown Princess of Hytanica. Custom dictates that she marry on her eighteenth birthday, after which point her father will retire from his responsibilities as king. Alera will be queen, but her husband will be the true ruler of the kingdom. Alera's father has the perfect candidate lined up--Steldor, the conceited son of the Captain of the Guard--but Alera can't stand him. Alera wants to marry for love, but Steldor's the only person who seems to meet all of her father's qualifications.
"You always have a choice." (295)
Alera's biggest concern is avoiding her father's heavy-handed matchmaking, until an intruder is found on the castle grounds. With the unexpected reappearance of a Hytanican boy kidnapped by Cokyri sixteen years ago and presumed dead, Hytanica's unofficial and tentative truce with its mortal enemy is in doubt. No one knows what to make of Narian or where his loyalties lie, but Alera finds him strangely compelling.
Legacy is fantasy romance and first book in a trilogy. It's best that I share that information right off the bat because the novel ends cliffhanger-style.1 Also of interest is the fact that the author is only eighteen (she was fourteen when Legacy was first released as a self-published ebook, which means that she was writing the series as a tween). I suspect that much of the attention the book has gotten so far (and will continue to get) is due to the author's age, but I do like the idea of Harlequin TEEN publishing a book written by a teenager.
Regardless of the author's age, I wasn't expecting high, literary fiction from an imprint focused on romance for the teen audience. I can't say that Legacy gave me exactly what I expect from this type of novel because it exceeded my expectations. There's depth here that I didn't anticipate.
Alera is a sympathetic protagonist. She's a princess, but she's also dealing with normal teenage problems inherent becoming an adult while trying balance her desires against the high expectations of her parents. She makes incredibly stupid decisions because she doesn't always think through the consequences of her actions.
As for the other points of Alera's love triangle - Narian is enigmatic, the mysterious bad boy with a heart of gold, but there are things Alera doesn't know about his past that might their match disastrous. And, there's more to Steldor than meets the eye and his suit has support from unexpected corners.
Philosophical differences between the opposing countries add an interesting dimension to the series. Hytanican society is male-dominated, while Cokyri is matriarchal. By one account, a Hytanican's ambassador's disrespect toward Cokyri's female ruler 100 years ago is the reason that the two countries went to war in the first place.
There's also a strong theme of free will in Legacy. Alera isn't the only character struggling with duty and destiny. The struggles the characters face aren't limited to duty versus desire, but rather doing what is right whether it is expected of you or not.
Harlequin Teen doesn't seem to have set a release date for the second book in the trilogy, Allegiance, Kluver's website indicates that it will be 9-12 months after Legacy's June 28, 2011 release.
- I, for one, am not all that found of that device. I prefer my novels--even those in a series--to have some sort of resolution, satisfactory or not.
disclosure: I received a review copy of Legacy from Harlequin Teen via NetGalley.