"What if Cinderella had been sent to kill the Prince?"
~Kayden, A RELUCTANT ASSASSIN
J.C. Morrows debut novel A RELUCTANT ASSASSIN is sort of like The Bachelor...with assassins. It's reminiscent of The Selection series by Kiera Cass in that Dvarius, the Crown Prince of Auralius, must choose a bride out of a group of 25. However, unlike The Selection, Kayden has chosen to be one of the 25 due to The Order of the Moonstone. Her task? To kill the prince. Morrows spins the idea of fairy tales gone awry: What if Cinderella had been sent to the ball to assassinate the prince? Ironically, this idea is the same setting-off-point that gave Sarah J. Maas the motivation to begin writing her best-selling Throne of Glass series. Neither novel is about Cinderella; neither is a fairy tale. However, both were inspired from the same setting off point. If you're a fan of The Selection or Throne of Glass, A RELUCTANT ASSASSIN, the first book in the Order of the Moonstone series, is a must-read. Even if you're a fan of neither, you might find something new to love in a world set far from now.
Auralius came into existence after the Second Civil War and World War IV, and the industrial revolution that succeeded them (and brought energy-saving, steampunk technology to the world). Monarchy was brought back to bring new balance to the nation and prospers to this day. When Prince Dvarius seeks to claim his throne and change things up, he's forced to get married. Out of all the girls chosen as prospects, he's instantly drawn to Kayden, the one girl his advisors tell him to look away from. She's refreshingly honest, and he wants to know the woman he marries before the crown is on her head and the mask comes off. The only thing Dvarius isn't aware of? Kayden has been sent to assassinate him. She's undercover and on assignment, and what should be an easy mission becomes harder and harder as she begins losing her heart to the man she's supposed to kill. Not only that, the things she's been told about the Royal Family aren't quite lining up, and she's also not the only one sent to kill the Prince. Two destinies now lie before her: Which will she choose?
A RELUCTANT ASSASSIN is very fast-paced novel that you can breeze through in one sitting and the first in a series. It ends on a big cliffhanger but, thankfully, has a sneak peek of the next book in the series, A TRAITOROUS DECISION. I always love when a sneak peek is included after a bad cliffhanger, even if it's only a page or two, because it suddenly makes everything okay again. A lot of the story takes place at the palace, with only hints of the new world that has been created. I'm hoping to get outside of the palace and see a lot more of this society as the world-building develops throughout the rest of the series. I'm also curious to know more about Kayden's assignment and The Order of the Moonstone because we are told so little in the first book. There's a short prequel, A PERILOUS ASSIGNMENT, that features Kayden's selection, but even that is scarce on detail. I want to know so much more and can't wait for the series to begin revealing that information. I'll also be looking forward to the way Dvarius and Kayden change and evolve, especially as their relationship goes from "instantly attracted" to something deeper and lasting.
A RELUCTANT ASSASSIN launches on September 29th, so make sure it's on your Fall TBR if you're a fan of fantasy novels with court intrigue and assassins. I know they're always curiosity triggers for me!