For the nuns of St Mortain, life is a little different than the average nun. They are trained in the art of death, and deliver it to anyone found deserving by St Mortain, their patron saint and God. For this reason, Ismae is sent to attend the 15th century court of the Duchess of Brittany. The Duchess is a young girl who is beset on all sides by those who would betray her to the looming threat of an invasion by France, and Ismae must find out who the traitors are and dispatch them before they can do more harm.
Ismae has her crosses to bear. She must pose as the mistress of Duval, an important figure in the court who does not trust her one bit. Sadly for Ismae, Gavriel Duval is a man of honor, integrity, and someone who she just can't help but fall for, even though she has good cause to despise men. The two have to learn to work together and cast their suspicions aside to untangle the web of intrigue surrounding the Duchess' court.
Their is so much to love about this story; whether you enjoy light fantasy, historical fiction, tales of murder most horrid, or even romance. This has it all, and it is all written so well. I was initially concerned that there were too many political machinations, but R.L. LaFevers walked the line perfectly to keep me hungry for just another little clue about who the wretched traitor could be. The romance was perfectly pitched, building slowly in an Austen-like fashion, and reading those scenes was simply delicious. I think that this would appeal to fans of Maria V. Snyder, and particularly those that loved Poison Study (Book 1 in The Study Trilogy) (MIRA)
; the 'feel' of both books is similar.
The supporting cast of characters was rich and drew many a smile from me; I have hopes that a good number of them will return for the sequel, Dark Triumph, in spring 2013. I will definitely be making that a top reading priority!