Merin is a teacher, a book blogger, a baseball addict (Go Cardinals!), lover of music, movies and TV crime dramas, and YA/MG connoisseur. Follow me on my blog at http://ahandfulofconfetti.wordpress.com!
Seventeen-year-old Ismae was rescued from a brutal arranged marriage three years earlier when she was taken to the convent of St. Mortain. Here she was trained to become a deadly assassin, able to wield weapons and poisons with dangerous precision. When it's believed that Anne of Brittany's older brother, Gavriel Duval, is betraying his sister and country to the French, Ismae is sent to become a member of his household in order to keep an eye on him. Having grown up in a country town and then a convent, Ismae must learn to navigate the intrigues and deceptions of court, all the while trying not to fall in love with the person she very well may have to kill.
This book was really and truly awesome. Honestly, that was my only thought the entire time I was reading it, and once I'd finished. I absolutely adored the look at this semi-fictional Brittany, with the insertion of the magic and lore of the gods and the beliefs of those that followed them. I found Ismae to be a really refreshing heroine with a wonderful voice; while physically strong and capable, she's far from perfect, and has to navigate not only her past but her uncertainty regarding her present and future. I loved watching her grow as she started to really question what she wanted to do with her life and the fact that the convent might not always be right, or even the best path for her. She was faced with a lot of truly difficult decisions, and I was rooting for her as she navigated them all.
And Duval! What a swoon-worthy hero! It was so refreshing to see a truly GOOD guy who cared so deeply for his family and only wanted what was best for his sister. I so appreciated that the romance between him and Ismae didn't just pop up instantaneously but was very slow-burning. I liked the fact that they became friends first, sharing an alliance that slowly grew into more. By the time the romance actually happened, it seemed like such a natural progression that I hardly blinked at it because it was just perfect for what was going on in the book at that time. I also loved how Duval was able to help Ismae let go of her past, how she naturally grew more trusting of him, and how he was able to help her realize that she wasn't just a weapon of the convent. He was perfect for her, and she for him, and I just really loved the entire progression of their relationship.
This book was full of such twists and turns that I was constantly guessing and wondering what was going to happen next. I was literally unable to put it down until it was finished, because I just wanted to know how everything was going to be brought together for the finale of the book. This was a really perfect read for me that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. I am really looking forward to the second book, and learning more of Sybella; I hope she's able to get a happy ending, too.
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.