Assassin’s Gambit by Amy Raby

15808673Vitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s a trained assassin for the resistance, and her true play is for ultimate power. Using her charm and wit, she plans to seduce her way into the emperor’s bed and deal him one final, fatal blow, sparking a battle of succession that could change the face of the empire.

As the ruler of a country on the brink of war and the son of a deposed emperor, Lucien must constantly be wary of an attempt on his life. But he’s drawn to the stunning Caturanga player visiting the palace. Vitala may be able to distract him from his woes for a while—and fulfill other needs, as well.

Lucien’s quick mind and considerable skills awaken unexpected desires in Vitala, weakening her resolve to finish her mission. An assassin cannot fall for her prey, but Vitala’s gut is telling her to protect this sexy, sensitive man. Now she must decide where her heart and loyalties lie and navigate the dangerous war of politics before her gambit causes her to lose both Lucien and her heart for good. – Goodreads

It’s taken me a few days to write this, primarily because I’ve been busy adulting and buying a house. It makes me very excited to say that, should we get this house, there will be a room that will have no television and will be used for reading. How exciting is that?! Not a reading nook, but a sunroom…I’ll take it.

The other reason that has been holding me back from writing this review is a small part in the book. A small part that really bugged me, but kind of-sort of redeemed itself. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed the book. But I almost put it down because of a rape scene.

I am not a fan of rape scenes. I feel that they’re overdone in fantasy and do little to propel the story forward. I can think of ONE book where the rape scene actually contributed to the story and main character, where she used the incident to bounce back and do good for others.

This was not such a scene.

She tried to ignore it. Mild discomfort, she told herself. It’s mild discomfort, nothing more.

She chalked it up to practice for seducing the emperor. Um, no. Rape is not practice. Rape is a violation of your body and self. It is not effing mild discomfort. 

For a while, it’s as if the scene never happened. She kills him mid-orgasm (no joke—it’s the only time to kill a battle wizard) and runs away. It takes half of the book to bring it up again and then she’s pained by it. But even then, the pain is a cover up for a different issue. I was very disappointed in how it was handled.

Vitala is the worst assassin in the world. She has had one job for eight years: kill the emperor. He’s a battle wizard, so it has to be mid-orgasm, when his mind is most occupied so he won’t see an attack coming. Seriously. Anyway, she keeps getting distracted and decides she just wants to bone him all the time, and doesn’t kill him.

The emperor is an amputee, which was different and neat. He was by far the most complex character, which isn’t saying much.

It reeked of instalove, a characteristic that I can’t stand.

Despite this, I really enjoyed the way the sentences and words flowed. I enjoyed Raby’s writing style—it’s what kept me in the story.

Overall, I’d rate it a 3/5 on Goodreads. I enjoyed the read for the most part, but it’s not a favorite.

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