It’s 1814. Napoleon has escaped his imprisonment on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And at Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, five young ladies are secretly being trained for a world of spies, diplomacy, and war.
Tess Aubreyson can’t run far enough or fast enough to escape the prophetic dreams that haunt her. Dreams bring nothing but death and grief, and Tess refuses to accept that she may be destined for the same madness that destroyed her mother. Until her disturbing dreams become the only means of saving Lord Ravencross, the man she loves, and her fellow students at Stranje House. Tess’s old friend, the traitorous Lady Daneska, and Ghost, the ruthless leader of the Iron Crown, have returned to England, intent on paving the way for Napoleon’s invasion. Can the young ladies of Stranje House prevail once more? Or is England destined to fall into the hands of the power-mad dictator?
Continuing in the world we were introduced to in A School for Unusual Girls, this second installment switches over to Tess’ POV. This idea of transitioning through the various girls in the school, getting a better understanding of their personal background and skills, and focusing on their romantic element, makes sense. However, it didn’t work for me.
Tess’ voice came off so differently in this book than the impression I got from her in the first book. I couldn’t merge the two, therefore finding myself still more interested in Georgie’s voice, and wishing I could just be discovering all this through her POV. Tess was much more vulnerable in this book, no longer the warrior woman from the first – yes she was full of big threats and a desire to take on the world for her friends, but her execution was very lacking. The fact that she fell prey so often really upset me as it went completely against her persona from the first book.
The romance element was also lacking for me. The sparring and toughness between Tess and Gabe we see in the first book was ruined in this one by Tess’ continued denial of her obvious feelings, and the break down of Gabe to a soft romantic. Also, the same Darcy/Elizabeth dynamic is resurfacing in the budding relationship between Jane and Alexander, which we’ve already seen in this series. . .
Basically, I wanted tough Tess, and that is not what this story delivered. It felt very lacking, and the conflict of the story was much more dull than the first installment. I found myself skimming this to finish. I don’t plan on continuing with the series.