I am on a new fantasy kick to replace the lack of kick ass heroines from my favorite romance authors. Anita Blake the one trick pony is down the tubes and at this time I have not found any new releases from my other favs.
This is a rich fantasy story about Phedre no Delaunay who was born with a defective spot on her eye. She was born into a society of courtesans and rejected at an early age do to her imperfection. A nobleman, Anafiel Delaunay purchases Phedre because he immediately recognizes her imperfection as the mark of Kushiel. He understands the ramifications of the mark and realizes that she has been selected to experience pain as pleasure. Yes it sounds as though the dirty ole man scoops up the girl to abuse her, but really it is not this way. He teaches her in the art of espionage while she is growing up. After the death of Anafiel and her friend Alcuin Phedre discovers a world of politics and deceit.
I found this to be a very detailed and imaginative story with non stop exotic lands and problems. There is a wonderful cast of secondary characters who each add to the tale. Joscelin is a Cassiline Brother who is sworn to protect Phedre even though at first he does not like her at all. He is sworn to protect and to remain faithful to his training. His pledge requires him to remain celibate. Faced with his devotion to his pledge he finds himself growing respect and love for Phedre. Hyacinthe was Phedreâ€™s first true friend and constant companion. He is not the street rat he appears to be. At the beginning of the book is a three page book with the names of characters and their family affiliation. I found myself needing to refer to this frequently at first, but caught on to the myriad of characters quickly.
This book has it all from mystery, fantasy, eroticism and imagination. It is not a light book to waste a few hours with, it is intense and well thought out.
I rate this as an A and a keeper. This is actually my second reading as I am now working on the third book and wanted to get back in touch with the characters.