Official book description:
Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:
Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!
Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family.
Sebastian has just turned sixteen. He wants to be a dutiful son and does his best to please his parents, but he really doesn’t feel comfortable with all the match-making they’re suddenly doing. He doesn’t dare tell anyone that in the evenings, alone in his chambers, he likes dressing up in women’s clothing. At his birthday ball, he sees a young, confident noblewoman wearing a very avant-garde dress. He knows what he needs to do.
Frances is a young seamstress, and about to lose her job. Instead of listening to the wishes of the noble lady PAYING for the dress she was making, she asked the young lady who would be wearing the outfit what she would like and designed a frock accordingly. It was unusual and shocking and her employer is furious. Luckily, as she’s about to be shown the door, a tall gentleman arrives at the dress shop to enquire who made the dress in question, and discovers it was Frances. He offers her a huge sum of money to leave her job at the dressmaker’s (not really a problem, as she was seconds away from being fired) and come work for an anonymous employer. While Frances is nervous, she doesn’t really have any choice.
During their first meeting, Frances’ employer wants her to be blind-folded. Frances explains that she can’t really fully do her job if she can’t see who she’s designing for, so her employer appears wearing a thick veil instead. However, some clumsiness and unfortunate timing means the veil is ripped off during the meeting, and her mystery employer is revealed to be none other than Prince Sebastian. He expects her to run off, disgusted, but instead, she is intrigued. She doesn’t really care why he wants to wear or why, she just wants a chance to design some stunning and original outfits.
Sebastian starts going out at night, donning a wig and wearing Frances’ amazing creations. He takes the name lady Crystallia and very rapidly becomes a fashion icon. Soon, Frances is seeing her creations recreated everywhere, but no one knows that she is the designer of the beautiful outfits and she has no chance of ever becoming famous and making a grand career as long as no one must connect the prince’s personal dressmaker with lady Crystallia’s creative modiste, lest they figure out lady Crystallia’s true identity.
Full review here.