“I crouched next to Edmund behind the boulder. The harpy eagle circled overhead, her grey-and-white markings blending with the frosty winter sky.”

Opening lines of Foremost by Jody Hedlund

The next in the Lost Princesses series, Jody Hedlund’s Foremost connects us with the second princess, the eldest twin, Maribel, just as she’s about to turn 18. Unlike her sister Adelaide who has been raised in a family (read all about her in Always and Evermore) Maribel has been raised by nuns in a hidden abbey far away from the outside world. Unaware of her royal status, she believes she is destined to join the abbey and become a nun to use her healing gifts.

The book’s narrative begins as Maribel is informed of her true history and, shortly thereafter, she has to escape from the convent as it is besieged by enemies hunting for her.

Edmund, Maribel’s closest friend, remembers the imposing and cruel army who slaughtered his family when he was a young boy and his lucky escape to safety in the abbey. He swears fealty to Maribel and sets out to keep her safe on her journey to connect with her sister. Unbeknownst to Maribel, he is deeply in love with her and wrestling with whether or not he should try and woo her from being a nun, a particularly interesting plot twist! I’m used to the “other guy” problem but it’s not often the competition is a life vocation!

Injured on the escape, Edmund relies on Maribel’s healing skills as much as she relies on his wisdom, understanding of the landscape and abilities to fight. His talent communing with animals is another delightful element to the story. Hidden mazes, giant mythical monsters, difficult landscapes, politics and illness, this fairytale has it all! To this, Jody adds Christian truths about forgiveness, vocation, sacrifice and love.

It’s a wonderful, fast-paced adventure perfect for young (and older) adults, I highly recommend it and can’t wait to read the next in the series! It’s a five out of five on the en-JOY-ment scale.

From the back cover:

A second princess. Another key to the treasure. And a cruel king desperate to squelch the growing rebellion.

Raised in an isolated abbey, Lady Maribel desires nothing more than to become a nun and continue practicing her healing arts. She’s carefree and happy with her life…until a visitor comes to the abbey and reveals her true identity as one of the lost princesses.

When he was a young boy, Edmund Chambers helplessly watched King Ethelwulf murder his family. Edmund escaped and has lived in the abbey ever since, uniquely trained to work with wild animals. Secretly, he loves Maribel and desperately hopes she doesn’t complete her holy order vows.

When King Ethelwulf’s army arrives at the abbey to capture Maribel, she flees with Edmund across the desolate Highlands in an attempt to reach Adelaide’s rebel army. Edmund can no longer hide his love, but can Maribel give up her dreams of becoming a nun to love him in return?

I received a complimentary copy of the book from Jody Hedlund. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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