The year is 1853, and Princess Elisabeth “Sisi” of Bavaria has been very clear: She will wait for the head-over-heels love the poets speak of, or she will have no love at all. Just because her older sister, Helene, is eagerly heeding their mother’s advice and preparing to marry Emperor Franz of Austria does not mean Sisi must also subject herself to such a dutiful existence. Sisi knows there is more to life than luncheons and corsets—if only someone would let her experience it all firsthand.
Meanwhile, in Austria, the emperor is recovering from an assassination attempt that left him wounded and scared. In a bid to keep the peace, Franz has recommitted himself to his imperial duties—and promised to romance the pliant Helene of Bavaria at his upcoming birthday celebration. How better to unite the empire than with the announcement of a new empress?
But when Sisi and Franz meet unexpectedly in the palace gardens, away from the prying eyes and relentless critique of the court, their connection cannot be denied. And as their illicit conversations turn into something more, they must soon choose between the expectations of their families and standing up for what they truly believe in . . .