The Little Things Publishing, 2012
The Hidden Blessing picks up not far after The Seventh Blessing leaves off: with Princess Emmalyn Meredith's blessing ceremony and a trick-and-twist of the fairy blessing. Emma is the daughter of our beloved Samantha and Nolan, and as such, inherits a certain secret blessing of her mother's -- a blessing that will play an unexpected key role later in the story. But first, things must be fast forwarded to a peaceful afternoon in Conti Wayo, where things suddenly go horribly awry. The Princess disappears, and all fear her dead. And yet ...
... In a neighboring kingdom, there is a beautiful, intelligent girl who lives with a fairy - her adopted grandmother - and remembers nothing of her past. The story goes that her parents were killed in a recent war, and a kindly traveler rescued her and brought her to a safe home. Emma grows in grace and beauty, and earns the respect of the Lord whose manor she works in. This is where she meets Will and Allessia, who are traveling to Mittra for Prince Thad's birthday celebration. Allessia needs a new lady's maid, and Emma needs a safe home after a dangerous encounter with the Lord's son, so Emma joins the party -- finding out along the way that her Lord has named her his heir, with Will acting as guardian along the journey. This is only the first of many startling revelations for Emma though, and once in Mittra, she finds herself sucked into a whirlwind of mystery and discovery. The missing Princess is rumored to be alive, and Thad's birthday ball quickly becomes a "Princess Test" to sift through all the girls in the kingdom (and even neighboring kingdoms) to see if one of them is the missing Emmalyn Meredith. Emma assists with the testing, and finds herself drawn into closer and closer relationships with all the royal family -- including Will, who she is shocked to discover is in fact Crown Prince.
As the Princess tests get more and more intense, Emma is confused by disturbing memories -- or half-memories -- that begin to break through the fog of her past. So much seems familiar, with no reason at all. It all comes to a dramatic climax of dizzying awesomeness, when old enemies return seeking vengeance and new alliances are formed. Discoveries are made, hearts and bonded, and all things become clear. The journey is one of bungling miscommunications and oh-so-human interactions between characters who struggle to make sense of the confusing waters of life's journey.
I loved this just as much as the first installment, and Will is every bit as amazing and root-able a Prince as Nolan was. Emma has spunk and a decidedly human streak in her, and all the characters have a fullness of life to them. Old favorites Sam, Nolan (oh, Nolan...) and Talia return, and are the better for age and experience. All in all? A fantastic follow-up offering by someone I love to consider a virtual long-lost sister.
eARC provided by author for review.
Now then ... Ready for that interview with Will? I had so much fun with my first character interview, and am so honored that Will agreed to join me.