Author: Amy Ewing
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Source: From publisher for honest review.
The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.
Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.
Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.
Like many of you, the first thing that drew me to this book was the cover. Just look at it! It is absolutely gorgeous, so of course, I had to get my hands on it.
I've seen some mixed reviews, though right from the beginning I was in love with this story. I read the first 90 pages in what felt like five minutes and forced myself to put it down because I had to sleep. I then proceeded to lay awake wondering and dove in again. I've seen some reviews saying that it slowed down for them after that, but for me that definitely wasn't the case.
I found this book to be wonderfully written and it absorbed me from page one. I found the world to be vivid and believable while still keeping me interested. I was constantly wanting to see what would happen and not once did I ever consider throwing in the towel.
Our heroine, Violet/#197, is pleasant and very easy to like. So often in stories like this do heroines give off a whiny, "My life is horrible," vibe but I never experienced that with Violet. She's been through some crap, and it sucked - but now it's time to get on with it. That was the vibe I was getting from her. Other surrogates around her seemed to have a harder time adapting to the new way of life and the new environment while Violet was sticking it out and being strong. I admired that about her.
Surrogates are a very interesting and necessary part of this world. I appreciated the world building and that there wasn't an information dump over the first chapter but rather that the story was allowed to tell itself in small bits as it saw fit. This world could possibly be our own, but it's never really specific. It is however easy to relate to the lives of those we do see, no crazy alien cyborgs here, folks.
There was a love interest that arrives fairly late in the game. I loved the story before this introduction and after the introduction of said individual. I didn't get the "insta-love" vibe though I know some others did. Insta-love tends to bother me, but in this book I felt that it was gradual enough that it felt natural. We're on a limited time frame from the beginning which may have also helped in this department.
Now, let's talk about that ending.
The ending to end all other endings. It was wonderful. I haven't gotten that excited for a sequel in years. I'm terrible at finishing series - but this one I am already dying to have more of.
I have heard this book compared to The Selection series, and as I have not read it myself I can't say much to that fact - however from what I know about The Selection storyline, I didn't find any similarities that felt like this had been done before.
Overall: If you love books that are different, have an intriguing concept/world this book is perfect for you. Our heroine is believable, the ending leaves you guessing, and it is an all around fantastic debut.
Don't miss it.
You'll regret it if you do.