This was the definition of a three star read. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like or love it either.
When she is thirteen years old, Ismae is sent to a convent filled with nuns who serve their god Mortain aka Death. She is sent there to avoid a marriage to the old and cruel man her father sold her to.
Ismae becomes an assassin and at 17 she is sent on her first major assignment. She is forced to pretend to be the mistress of Duval, the illegitimate son of a Duke.
This leads to a lot of cloak and dagger type stuff that I won’t pretend I fully understood. The short of it is that Duval’s sister, the future leader of their country, is being threatened by several different people, and they are on the brink of war. Both Ismae and Duval want to find out who they can and cannot trust with the future Dutchess and prevent her from having to enter into an awful marriage, at 13 years old, with a cruel and abusive man. (You read that right. The future Dutchess and Ismae lead very similar lives.) It is the similarities in their stories and loyalty to the royal family that drive Ismae to protect the young girl at all cost, and love and honor cause Duval to do the same.
I never connected with Ismae. In the beginning of the book, she was too pious and judgmental, especially when you consider the fact that she killed people. And towards the end of the book, she was a little too obsessed with Duval, and he became almost all she thought about. However, I liked her more when she was in love than when she was bitter.
Duval was a decent leading man. He was almost perfect, and that was a good thing because Ismae was searching for any reason to turn on him. He was noble, kind, and just enough in love with her to make me smile a few times. However, he was also boring. Perfection is boring, it just is.
I was also let down by the mystery. The reveal of who was trying to destroy the Dutchess was a let down. I kept waiting for another twist, but unfortunately, it never happened.
I am firmly in the minority when it comes to my thoughts on this book so don’t take me that seriously. It wasn’t bad or offensive, but it was almost worse because it was boring.
Before I end this review, I need to rant about something.
Seriously, if you haven’t read the book, do not read this. It doesn’t reveal a major plot point, but it is a spoiler.View Spoiler »She cures poison with sex?! Seriously?! Her body is capable of absorbing poison and the only way she can do that is through sex. I guess this was supposed to be some modern twist on “true love’s kiss”, but it was an epic fail for me. It is one thing for her to sleep with him because she wanted to but doing it to save his life was kind of creepy. He didn’t force her and I know she was attracted to him, but the fact of the matter is that he would have died if she didn’t sleep with him and that’s weird. « Hide Spoiler
I was certain that was not going to continue with this series, but then my buddy read buddy told me that the next book focuses on 2 of my favorite characters from this book. I will just have to suck it up and hope that the next book will be better since it stars more interesting people.
The writing in Grave Mercy was pretty good so if the author maintains that and adds in these great characters, I might just end up liking the next book.
If you like historical romance, and don’t mind a slow read with lots and lots of talking and thinking and manipulating, read this one.
Because of violence and mild sexual content, I would recommend this book for ages 14 and up. There were no detailed sex scenes.