We all have multiple selves, the version we think we show the world, the version we actually show the world, our inner self who our outer self never quite resembles, and countless others.
One intriguing way of handling character is the secret identity. You can’t wear a mask too long without it becoming part of you. Superheroes come immediately to mind, and we’ll probably forever ask if Superman is Clark Kent or if Clark Kent is Superman? Which is his authentic self, or are they both true versions of a single man?
Princess Katya Nar Umbriel has a few secrets. One is that each member of her family houses a bit of Fiend inside them. But Katya also has a secret job. As the second child she leads an order dedicated to containing threats to the throne. Guarding her loved ones forces her to play the rake, seducing courtiers who want only the favors Katya’s position can win them. In the middle of her toughest investigation yet, hunting highly-placed conspirators, she’s tired of the string of meaningless bed-mates. When she meets Starbride, a foreign scholar with no interest in court affairs, Katya finds someone she hopes she can be herself with.
Starbride hasn’t come to court seeking a spouse, regardless of her mother’s hopes for her. Despite being encumbered with a wardrobe that evokes more than a few comparisons to pastries, she’s come to study law, and wants nothing more than to while her time in the library. A brief encounter with Katya, the princess who loves and hates hunting, can’t help but intrigue Starbride, especially when Katya conceals her identity long enough to show Starbride a bit of her true self.
Barbara Ann Wright’s the Pyramid Waltz, is at its heart a love story, but there’s a juicy game of who’s who built into the plot. Katya has a lot of selves, a lot of layers, and their revelation makes for an enticing read.