Meet the Main Characters:
Charming, charismatic, and precocious, Ryla grew up in a life of privilege as the younger daughter of Neress’s ruler, Benedict Jensen. Ryla showed plenty of spirit even as a child, and Benedict made no attempt to hide the fact that she was his favorite of his two daughters. Casting aside his firstborn, Alanna, he anoints Ryla early on to be his successor, choosing her to take over for him when she comes of age on her 25th birthday and carry on in the tradition of his rule, which he sees as a benevolent dictatorship.
Ryla struggles with the burden of this heavy weight that’s been thrust upon her shoulders at a young age. At 18, she is still trying to find her footing, and is only now coming to realize the full reality of what’s ahead of her — and the fact that she has had no say in determining her destiny. Only through the encouragement of older sister, Alanna, is she able to start to embrace what’s asked of her, but when she learns of the true nature of her father’s rule, she must make the ultimate choice: join the fledgling rebellion and turn her back on her family, or turn a blind eye to the oppressive society her father has built — that she must inherit herself one day.
Shy, quiet, and awkward, Alanna always struggled to earn her father’s love and affection. Eliminated from contention early on to be her father’s successor, Alanna dutifully embraces Ryla’s destiny to one day assume control of the country, giving her unconditional support and providing a guiding hand. Alanna has been Ryla’s sole protector from the time they were little girls, after the untimely death of their mother left them with a father whose duty kept him from being fully present in the lives of his children.
Compassionate and caring, Alanna truly believes in the benevolent dictatorship their father established, believing that it is the government’s duty to take care of its people and ensure that they want for nothing. As a doctor, she carries out this philosophy in her life as well, opening up a clinic in the heart of the inner city of Neress’s capital, and she is much beloved among the citizens for her loving, nurturing nature.
As with her sister, she’s had little say in the key decisions in her life, including her choice of a husband. Promised as a little girl to the young son of Neress’s Minister of Security, Alanna is set to marry Owen Callister on her 25th birthday, and falling in love with him sets her on a course that she could never have predicted.
Raised in the inner city of Neress’s capital, Tyson is keenly aware of the oppression his fellow citizens have had to endure under Benedict Jensen’s rule. Idealistic to a fault, Tyson often clashes with his father, Ryla’s private tutor, Alek, over the role of the government in the lives of those it is meant to look after. His strong beliefs also put him in direct conflict with Ryla herself, whom he views with wariness.
She is, after all, the future leader of the country, and he trusts no one in this leadership.
But little by little, Ryla gets to him, surprising him with her contradictions, and making him realize that he may have judged her a too quickly. Together, they embrace the fight for freedom, but it’s a dangerous game they play, and the risks only grow with time for both of them.
Spirited and at times reckless, Owen could never quite connect with the cold, distant father who saw him as little more than a disappointment, and with a mother whose frequent bouts with mental illness left her unable to properly care for her son. At 16, he was sent away to the country’s top flight academy to gain discipline, and now 25, he has returned to Neress’s capital to marry the girl he’s been promised to since he was a young boy.
Alanna Jensen has always been an enigma to him — the girl he longed to get close to, though she held him at a distance. Drawn to her warmth and compassion, he finds a kindred spirit in her, someone whose own strained relationship with her father enables her to understand him better than anyone else.
Marrying her is his duty, but falling in love with her is the true adventure, and their journey together becomes a saving grace for both of them.