Blog Tour: The Hidden Blessing + Character Interview

I am totally excited to be a stop along Melissa Buell's blog tour for The Hidden Blessing, Book 2 of the Gymandrol series (clicking the banner above will take you to Melissa's blog, and links to all the other stops as they go live). You may remember when I interviewed Melissa and reviewed her first book, The Seventh Blessing, which I loved, so I was more than happy to help promote the next installment of the story. And, I got to sit down with the devastatingly handsome prince and ask some questions. What more could a girl ask for? I'm running my review first, and then I'll let you see how my conversation with Will went ((you might find this hard to believe, but Nolan just might have competition! Melissa totally knows how to write a hero)).

The Hidden Blessing
Melissa Buell
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.

Prince Fitzwilliam -- may I call you Will? I've been calling you Will in my head, and I feel like we're *thisclose* now after reading The Hidden Blessing, but since you're a Prince I figured I should ask permission. Many thanks for joining me today, and for letting me ask impertinent questions.
It’s a pleasure to join you, Miss Rebecca. You may call me Will. I much prefer it over Fitzwilliam, an unfortunate name chosen by my mother to appease a family member.

Fitzwilliam's a family name then? Quite interesting -- why do I never meet any guys with this name, I wonder ... Well then, Will, I'm going to start with the question that popped into my mind as soon as I saw your name on the page. Fitzwilliam -- it's a name that stirs the hearts of countless women. Are you familiar with The Other Fitzwilliam, meaning Fitzwilliam Darcy, of course? Do you think you will become the Next Fitzwilliam to steal hearts?
I have not met Mr. Darcy, I regret to say. Perhaps he feels his mother also saddled him with an unfortunate name. I’m not certain how many girls’ hearts I have stolen but I am certain that the only girl whose heart I desire is Emma’s.

Will, that is a swoon-worthy answer. And as for Mr. Darcy, I think you may be on to something: he has a cousin with the name also! Again, a plethora of Fitzwilliams, and nary a one to meet. Most strange. But moving on from the topic of names, you told Emma that you like fairy tales. So do I! What's your favorite?
I have to admit my embarrassment at such a comment to Emma. I was referring to the prince who seems to be on hand to save the day when the damsel is in distress. As I’m sure you know, Emma is not a helpless damsel.  It reminds me of my favorite fairy tale, The Six Swans, which tells about a girl who has to save her six brothers.

That is a wonderful fairy tale, to be sure. And I would definitely not make the mistake of calling Emma a damsel in distress. Speaking of Emma ... Did you ever have an inkling that there was more to her story? Did you want there to be more to her story?
When I met Emma, I was very surprised to find that she was a maid being raised by a fairy. I could tell from first speaking to her in the library that she was intelligent and well-read. I wanted to know more about her but I also knew that if I wasn’t careful, I might risk falling in love with her.

Your story has all the makings of a fantastic novel. I'm sure it was difficult, walking the fine line between getting to know someone intriguing and falling head over heels. What was it like to have such a mysterious girl telling you so many hard, challenging truths about yourself? Do you think she helped you understand things better because she was so far removed from the "normal" picture?
Emma is incredibly honest and I had to listen to her tell me things that I didn’t particularly care to hear about myself. I can see that it made me into a better man but it’s still rather humbling. I’ve never had a young lady challenge me that way before. Most girls simply throw themselves at princes, hoping for a marriage proposals. But not Emma. I think her being away from courtly life helping her to be the honest, amazing lady she is today.

Her honest take on life is wonderfully refreshing. I love that she's not afraid to tell it straight, especially during the whole crazy process of the Princess testing. Was it strange for you to be part of/witness to the Princess testing? Did it bring up a lot of memories?
It was odd to see so many girls there simply to parade themselves in front of my friend, Thad. It reminded me of being back home in Personti and the many girls my mother would invite to stay with us to see if any of them would be a proper fit into our family. Of course, my mother’s view of a “proper fit” and mine are worlds apart.

Heh, yeah. Your mother is quite decided in her opinions. I'm not sure she'd approve of all my decisions either. You and Thad clearly have a close relationship, from boyhood, what is your favorite memory from when you were growing up and would spend time in Conti Wayo?
I loved being outside with all of the other children. Thad, Oakley and I were great pals. We would swim, climb trees, and convince the cook to give us extra sweets. All of that changed after Emmalyn Meredith was gone, though. I’m glad to still have those happy memories before the dark days came and we didn’t visit anymore.

Will, thank you so much for letting me poke my nose in affairs that are probably none of my business. Your story was just so -- wonderful -- that I had to take advantage of this opportunity to get to know you a little better.
Thank you for inviting me to share this time with you, Miss Rebecca. I must go. Emma is waiting down by the garden gate.


  1. Thanks for having me! <3

    Will had a lot of fun with the interview, I'm pleased to report. ;-)

  2. Yay for book 2. Melissa's world and characters has me hooked big time. And of course any mention of Mr. Darcy in any way, shape, or form...