Queen's Secret #1

The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz

Publication Date: February 4, 2020

Summary from NetGalley:

Caledon Holt is the kingdom’s deadliest weapon. No one alive can best him in speed, strength, or brains, which is why he’s the Hearthstone Guild’s most dangerous member. Cal is also the Queen’s Assassin, bound to her by magic and unable to leave her service until the task she’s set for him is fulfilled.

Shadow of the Honey Glade has been training all her life to join the Guild, hoping that one day she’ll become an assassin as feared and revered as Cal. But Shadow’s mother and aunts expect her to serve the crown as a lady of the Renovian Court.

When a surprise attack brings Shadow and Cal together, they’re forced to team up as assassin and apprentice. Even though Shadow’s life belongs to the court and Cal’s belongs to the queen, they cannot deny their attraction to each other. But now, with war on the horizon and true love at risk, Shadow and Cal will uncover a shocking web of lies that will change their paths forever.

ARC provided by Penguin Young Readers Group via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

This is the first book by this author that I have read. I have always heard good things about her books, so was excited to read this new one. I was a little disappointed in the world building and the story was just ok, but I loved the two characters and their budding relationship enough to finish the book and want to read the next one.

Shadow is a pretty tough young lady who has her own opinions and dreams. She also has a secret about who she is, that was pretty obvious, but what came as a surprise when it was revealed was that she already knew it. She was pretty mature for the most part, but also seemed immature at times too. For example, her feelings of jealousy when Cal flirted with other women, as part of his job, which he explained to her. Shadow’s magical ability is similar to elemental magic and was interesting. But the magical system was not explained well or why she had it and Cal did not.

Caledon was also a well developed character, and I actually liked him a bit better than Shadow. He is blood bound to serve the Queen until he has completed a certain mission for her. Does he want to be her assassin forever? Nope, he also has some dreams that take him away from his duty. His perception and feelings for Shadow were nicely done and believable.

The world building was sort of all over the place. I had a hard time keeping the different warring factions apart and what exactly they were fighting over wasn’t totally explained either. The magical system was just there, with no rhyme or reason to it. I did like the short historical vignettes that showed up a couple of times in the narrative, but they didn’t help with the world building as much as they could have. The plot on the whole was also nothing new, it was pretty easy to guess what was going to happen before it did. In the last half of the book the pacing picked up quite a bit and there were some amusing things that happened between Shadow and Cal. The ending is a bit of a cliff hanger though.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book. There is room for growth in the characters for the next book and hopefully things that were a bit problematic will get fixed. I probably will be picking up the next book and perhaps checking out some of this author’s other works.

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