Five years ago Constance's clock stopped at the same time as her husband's heart. With it, her life as she knew it stopped. The only constant was her job and her best friend.
Since her husband's death, she hasn't been able to restart her life, and she's not ready to try. Then she gets laid off her job, her ex-druggie sister shows up on her doorstep (with a four-year-old daughter Constance has never met before), her best friend is suffering through a troubled marriage, and Constance is left without any idea what to do with herself.
So she does what she always does: buries herself into the past by clinging to fond memories. Only this time, she learns her memories might not be accurate. But even a broken clock is right twice a day. And now she's left picking up the pieces to everyone else's life and wondering whether anything she thought she knew about her life was true.
A cursed land. A power hungry queen. A once adored but now forgotten princess.
Princess Winterberry Scilla is no stranger to hardship. Her mother died when she was born, her father was distant and self-absorbed at best. And when the King of Canens remarried, he found a woman to whom beauty and adoration meant everything--even at the expense of her new stepdaughter.
Winterberry knows her time is limited, for as she grows, she grows more and more beautiful. If there's one thing the beautiful Queen Blanche of Canens cannot stand, it's competition. But Winterberry has never been one to be cowed by the expectations of another. That way of thinking lead to imprisonment in her room after her father's death. Imprisonment with no way out.
But now, as she nears her sixteenth birthday, things are changing. Queen Blanche doesn't want her anymore. And she's plotted and schemed until she's found the perfect plan to dispose of her stepdaughter--because simply killing her would never be enough.
As Winterberry is formally arrested, she begins her journey into the darkness of the frozen land of Canens, where she'll learn about the people she one day thought to rule by serving them among the lowest of low. And she'll learn that the people who built her father's castle were not treated as she thought. And she'll learn truths about her country that will both terrify and teach. But most of all, she'll learn that things she thought were true are false. And she'll learn that appearances are deceiving. In fact, appearances mean a great deal where she's going, for the better the appearance, the worse the treatment.
Winterberry Scilla shed her past as a princess before she even fled from her home country of Canens. Although no one in neighboring country, Ardor, recognizes this secretive girl who calls herself Helena, the discovery of her identity as the rightful heir to the throne of Canens would put her into far more danger than she's already in. Three men hunt her: the notorious Huntsman of Canens, and the two men who "rescued" her from her prison at his hands. But there's another, more dangerous, hunter after her as well: her stepmother Queen Blanche of Canens. And all four are driven to seek her until they find her.
Rus Solem is the rightful, but exiled and uncrowned King of Heia. He's far from his home, on the hunt for two young women, one who means more to him than his own life: his sister, sold into slavery by their corrupt uncle and now King Karl of Heia. His search has led him to the frozen Canens country and to its treacherous slave trader, Magister Marcus, where he finds the other girl he now hunts. He knows her only as Helena, a girl he was duped into rescuing from an icy prison of certain death. Who, as soon as she was able to stand, thanked him by fleeing his company. And now that he's entered into a treacherous alliance with the man who owned her, he's committed to tracking her down and bringing her back to face whatever sort of justice she's said to deserve.
But Helena has managed to avoid her captors--for now. There in the seaside town of Nubilus, Ardor, Helena meets and finds refuge with Ella, a young girl who runs The King's Inn. Quiet and unassuming Ella has her own troubles, but she's more than willing to invite another girl desperately in need of help into her life. Through her kindness, she hopes that Helena will one day confide in her and request more help, even as Ella faces the loss of her late father's stable and an arranged marriage to a cruel nobleman. Despite Ella's visible courage and kindness, Helena must keep her many secrets. For the deeper Helena travels into the culture of enemy land, the more pain and bitterness of her friends she must face as she discovers more evils about her home. She must remain incognito or else risk death from all sides, the friends she has made here, the Huntsman who hunts her, and the Queen of Canens, who will stop at nothing to execute her plan for her stepdaughter.