**spoiler alert** This is the third and final book in the trilogy that began with the Silver Bowl. All three stories cover the adventures of Molly, wh**spoiler alert** This is the third and final book in the trilogy that began with the Silver Bowl. All three stories cover the adventures of Molly, who begins her life as a scullery maid until she helps rescue the prince from a deadly plot and destroys the curse on his family. The second book has to do with Molly discovering her true ancestry and the powers she holds within.
This last book wraps up Molly's story in a fairly expected manner if you've been reading along. But this story--as is evidenced by the title--is not Molly's story. It's an ensemble cast with several familiar characters and host of new ones. Prince Alaric is now going to court the Princess of Cortova in person with The Loving Cup Molly has crafted. Molly and Tobias travel with him. But the King of Cortova is a crafty sort of soul and he has invited Alaric's cousin to come and try for the hand of the Princess as well.
It sounds like the makings of a great plot. And Elizabetta, our Princess, is a wonderfully vivid character. Readers who have followed along already love Alaric, Molly and Tobias, so there's no lack of great characters to follow and root for. The story weaves intrigue, danger and romance into a final outcome where Molly's own strengths will help win the day . . . or lose it.
Despite great characters, and an interesting premise, this book is problematic in its presentation. I consider myself a good reader, even for multi-layered, multi perspective books. So it makes me take a step back when even I am confused about who's perspective is contained in a particular passage. Rather than shifting between, one, two, or even three characters, the perspective shifts between at least six different characters, some of those for only a scene or two at most. Frankly, it's clumsy. The worst is when we constantly flip between negotiations of Prince Alaric and the King and Reynard and the King. The two sets of negotiations did not occur simultaneously--why on earth present them as such?
For all that goes on, this book is incredibly short. And while I normally get irritated when books pad the pages with more descriptions events and conversations than necessary, in this case I wanted much more. I wanted to get to know the Princess better--not just the little set pieces we saw to capture her character. I wanted to see more cleverness from our statesmen, less reacting.
Finally, I have a huge set of issues with the ending: Warning Major Spoilers Ahead!
Molly gets arrested for allegedly starting the fire that nearly kills the Princess. The fact that she conveniently goes off alone at the point where it would look suspicious is problematic. The fact that she confesses what happened to Tobias and not to the prince--and the fact that she is not immediately rushing to check on her own friends safety after the fire is out is all difficult to believe. But that's hardly the thing that pulled me out of the story.
Readers who've been with us since the first book know that Molly is fond of Tobias and Alaric both. We're pretty sure she loves the Prince but is resigned to him being out of her league. In the last book, she commits a tremendous crime against Tobias . . . and it's never resolved, but the indication is it kills something of their innocent relationship. The fact that Tobias is conveniently killed turns the romance with Alaric sour for me. It's the convenient method of cleaning up a love triangle and it annoys me to no end. Add into that the fact that the author crafts a loving beau for Princess Elizabetta so that when she takes the throne as Queen she chooses her faithful knight, and all our complications melt away.
It's too pat, too arranged for my tastes. Perhaps this will be fine for others, it is after all, my opinion, but I was disappointed with the wrap up. ...more