Aimie K. Runyan’s Promised to the Crown gives the reader a glimpse into an era that is little-explored in fiction—the growth of Quebec from a wilderness outpost to a thriving colony in the mid-seventeenth century. The story follows three women who fulfill the French king’s call for women to leave their homes and become brides in the new world, who foster a deep friendship between one another on the harrowing journey, and who struggle to survive in this unfamiliar new world. Runyan’s debut is riveting, memorable, and beautifully written.

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They are known as the filles du roi, or “King’s Daughters”—young women who leave prosperous France for an uncertain future across the Atlantic. Their duty is to marry and bring forth a new generation of loyal citizens. Each prospective bride has her reason for leaving—poverty, family rejection, a broken engagement. Despite their different backgrounds, Rose, Nicole, and Elisabeth all believe that marriage to a stranger is their best, perhaps only, chance of happiness.

Once in Quebec, Elisabeth quickly accepts baker Gilbert Beaumont, who wants a business partner as well as a wife. Nicole, a farmer’s daughter from Rouen, marries a charming officer who promises comfort and security. Scarred by her traumatic past, Rose decides to take holy vows rather than marry. Yet no matter how carefully she chooses, each will be tested by hardship and heartbreaking loss—and sustained by the strength found in their uncommon friendship, and the precarious freedom offered by their new home.

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