Title: Grave MercySeries: His Fair Assassin #1Author: Robin LaFeversPublisher: AndersenPublication Date: 7 June 2012Source: NetGalleyRating: 4/5Synopsis from GoodreadsYoung, beautiful and deadly. Trained as an assassin by the god of Death, Ismae is sent to the court of Brittany, where she finds herself under prepared - not only for the games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death's vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?
I love the premise of this one and its a deep case of cover love. Before I start I will tell you the one thing I really didn't like about the book - the use of the word MAYHAP, it may or may not fit with the historical setting I do not know but I hated its use with a vengeance, saying that it was the only thing I didn't like.
Grave Mercy has a compelling story-line, well balanced characters, a fast, flowing plot with an interesting paranormal element alongside a fabulous romance.
Told in first person narrative from Ismae perspective. Ismae is a wonderfully complex character, suffering through a horrendous childhood at the hands of a physically abusive father and believing her mother never wanted her. Physically scarred from birth due to a herbal concoction her mother took during pregnancy, Ismae is rather timid with very little self confidence. Rescued by the local Herb Witch from an arranged marriage.
Ismae finds herself at the Convent of St Mortain, where she finds comfort and shelter for the first time in her life. The training as a Handmaiden gives Ismae confidence she hasn't possessed before. There are even lessons in the art of seduction, although Ismae avoids these like the plague which made me giggle out loud.
Initially Ismae serves the convent without question, although as a reader you question the ethics and credibility of what Ismae is told. The nature versus nurture debate can be seen in the way Ismae thrives in the convent. I really respected Ismae, her ability to be true to herself is an admirable quality and not always an easy choice to make. Her character development throughout the book provides a spectacular journey. The decision to be who you want to be rather than what others want you to be or expect you to be is not an easy one and can often be a painful process.
The way in which taking orders from other people is scrutinized within the plot as part of Ismae's development showed that you can not always believe what you are told by others. People are fallible and often have ulterior motives for their actions.
I know absolutely nothing about french history so I cannot comment as to the accuracy of the historical events portrayed. The historical setting did add dramatic tension to the plot with the intrigue and suspense, betrayal and conspiracies. Cloak and dagger tension, divided loyalties, patriotism, treaties and arranged marriages all add to the setting and imagery. Secrets, personal agendas and conspiracy theories are all hinted at within the narrative providing a lot of scope for the series to continue.
The romantic element within the book is what really made it for me. The chemistry between Ismae and Duval was electrifying. Both have had to overcome prejudice in their lives. they really do bring out the best in each other, they were literally made for each other.
I am really looking forward to Book 2 in the series, although not a direct sequel as it is told from a differnt characters point of view, I am hoping Ismae and Duval make an appearance. As well as the required answers to the outstanding questions in this book.