For crying out loud. Here I am, approaching the end of the reading marathon that is the 48 Hour Reading Challenge, and desperately trying to clear the reading decks (13 books read, 32 or so to go) and I read a book that make me wants its sequel NOW. The book I just read is Once a Princess, by Sherwood Smith (Samhain Publishing, 278pp, YA), the first of the Saharia en Garde! duology. The book I want is Twice a Prince. If I was next door to a store that sold it, I would go buy it now (although it's not available in stores).
(The neighbors are setting off fireworks. Lots of fireworks. Big booming up in the sky ones. But they can't get me to stop my reading/blogging clock to go look. Ha!)
So anyway. Once a Princess has everything I love about Sherwood Smith--smart, strong, kickass girls, and intelligent people who obviously know things that I, and the narrator, don't know, and a beautiful balance between drowning the reader in too much information about it all and creating a very nicely detailed world, and fictional characters who are really hot.
This one has, as well, something new--a heroine who is a kick ass, beautiful, smart, tough woman who is over fifty.
Sasha and Sun, her mother, traded Khanerenth (another world place) for the states years ago, when she was a child. Her father didn't make the crossing with them, and they don't know his fate. For ten years, mother and daughter moved from place to place, living in fear that they would be pursued by their enemies.
Ten years later, Sasha is tricked into going home. There she's a princesses, caught in a web of political and magical machinations, not sure what the heck is happening (I'm not sure, exactly, either. Sometimes I found this bothersome, mostly I simply let it go over my head). And there she finds herself fighting for her life (very successfully), becoming an unwilling passenger on the vessel of privateer, while the king's chief enforcer hunts for her, and she wonders how to find her father, all the while finding the more than somewhat attractive privateer a serious distraction. (Side note: there is no bodice/pirate shirt ripping in this book. Book 2 might well be a different story...)
In the meantime, her mother, Sun, has followed her, and kicked some butt of her own. Sun finds herself the "guest" of the king, caught in a battle of wits, and (like Sasha) struggling to make sense of what is going on and who to trust.
A lot happens, lots of characters appear on stage and most of these become very real, no matter how small their part, and Sasha (and her privateer companion) become great folks to cheer for both politically and personally. Sun seems to be fading a bit out of the story by the end, as things on Sasha's side heat up--I hope we hear more about her in the next book.
Here is the cover. You may ignore it, but I just want to clarify that Sasha's tee-shirt does not say "Got Booty?" That is an unfortunate printing illusion. It says "Got Books?"
And I do. 32 more of them, calling from below...