Why did I love this book?
To avoid execution, Yelena becomes the Commander’s food taster. Under the tutelage of the Commander’s spy and assassin, Valek, she learns about poisons, subterfuge, and how to fight. She also finds herself developing magic, which she must keep secret because it is outlawed in her country. This novel is dark and full of political intrigue, with Yelena battling inner demons and unsure who to trust. The gray morality is interesting, as neither the country of Ixia nor its enemy Sitia are particularly sympathetic. The slow-burn romance between Yelena and Valek is sexy and well-done. While Yelena spends most of this book learning how to be a spy, it is just the first of a fantastic series, which follows her adventures as she tries to prevent war between the two nations.