Grave Mercy by: R.L. LaFevers
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?
When I heard this book was about nun assassins, I took a double take. Nun ASSASSINS? Say what? I was very pleasantly surprised with this book, and I was engaged the whole time. Combined with a tender, slow building romance, the coolest historical setting ever, and gorgeous writing, this quickly became a favorite!
Ismae is an assassin for St. Mortain, the god of Death. After the covenant saved her years ago, she has trained every day how to kill people quickly and quietly. When she is tasked to delve into the high political circles to see, she uses her exceptional skills to see who is in the midst of betraying the Duchess, Anne.
Ismae is a total kick-ass. That basically describes her the best. After a horrible early life, she doesn’t let anyone get close to her, and it takes her forever to trust. I definitely don’t blame her. She is very strong, clearly, and really knows how to read people. She uses her many skills to her advantage to take out the baddies and she sticks to her guns and her morals and duties. Despite her tough exterior, she’s very sweet and caring inside.
Gavriel Duval is so very adorably cute. He is just about the most loyal and protective person ever. Everything he has had to go through to protect his sister and Ismae is just inspiring. At first, he is a bit cold and hard to read, but once I really got to know him, I fell for him just as fast as Ismae did. He’s beyond caring…just ahhhh. I am such a sucker for Duval. :)
Anne, the Duchess and Duval’s sister, was one of the best characters ever. Although she is very powerful, she is young and kind. I couldn’t imagine having my whole life planned out at such a young age, and she has no say in it! Poor child. I love Beast, Duval’s friend, too. He’s so gruff on the outside, but he’s so lovable on the inside. I basically had a hard time trusting everyone else in the book; it felt like they all had some ulterior motive for their actions. Makes me nervous!
The plot was definitely exciting, and LaFevers didn’t waste anytime diving right into the story. The mystery aspect was so great. It kept me hooked right up until the end. I also adored the historical setting. It felt so dang real. It’s definitely one of the best historical books I’ve ever read. The writing is beautiful and captivating. Their relationship is very slow-building, but it worked amazingly. They clearly did not get along at the beginning, since they both thought the other person was a betrayer. They were thrust together by circumstance, but slowly began to trust, respect, and eventually love each other. Sigh…I really wouldn’t mind my own Duval.
I am sad to see Gavriel and Ismae leave, but I am hoping to see them in Dark Triumph, Sybella, another handmaiden of Death, and Beast’s book, which just released. I’m so stoked! All I can say is more nun assassins!
Favorite Swoon-worthy Quote: Slowly, he leans toward me. His lips are soft and warm as they touch mine. His mouth moves urgently, as if he is trying to experience every nuance and curve of my lips. The utter rightness of this fills me, for it feels I have waited all my life for just this moment. His mouth opens slightly, and he shifts the angle of his kiss, nudging my mouth to do the same, and I am lost in a whole new world of sensation. His mouth is soft compared to the strong, callused hands that grip my waist.