by Amy Ewing
Release Date: September 2nd 2014
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.
As far as world building it’s not necessarily extensive as far as physical but as far the political intrigue it’s definitely a wide range. The world is made up with rings that are inclosed in a great wall (why are there always walls. I could see myself trying to look over the top right away). The circles make up the different classes, the center being the most valuable and is referred to as the Jewel. There was enough for me to understand how each section work but I thought where the world building really shined is how the Main royal family, the four founding houses and the other houses interact. I was fascinated by all their drama and at the same time cheering for our girl to find her way out of it.
Violet is not necessarily an exceptional character but she is definitely strong. Stronger than she comes across to me at times. Sometimes I thought her acts of defiance are misplaced but I also realized she doesn’t quite grasp the stakes. She knows but at the same time she is stuck in this role that pretty much makes her nothing and to take away her personality. I loved that she could find her way out of the life through her cello.
The Duchess is an interesting character. I ended up liking her quite a bit. Not because I thought she was nice or I want to be friends with her but because she has so many facets. She can seem cruel. I mean the whole idea of surrogates is cruel but it’s the way she phrases things at times. Almost in a, I don’t necessarily want to do this but I need to in order to advance politically and sometimes you have to play the game, kind of way. I just think there is more to the Duchess than meets the eye. The fact that she is swayed in one direction about certain things that is going on with the royals makes me wonder about her.
The romance was sweet and I enjoyed it. I didn’t feel like it was too over the top and even though it’s important to the story it’s not the only important part.
I liked the plot because this kind of political war is very engaging. There is always something to discover some new mystery to figure out. I had many questions in the beginning of the book and they were answered throughout. It was well paced and definitely no lag time. I actually read the book in a day and it felt like it flew by. The ending was interesting to say the least.
I really enjoyed this one and I will be looking forward to the next book.
She grew up in a small town outside Boston, where her librarian mother instilled a deep love of reading at a young age. Amy moved to New York City in 2000 to study theater at New York University. Unfortunately, her acting career didn’t quite pan out. She worked in restaurants, as an administrative assistant, a nanny, and a sales representative for a wine distributor before the lack of creativity in her life drove her to begin writing.
Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing for Children from The New School, where she was lucky enough to meet a fabulous community of YA writers who keep her sane on a daily basis. She lives in Harlem, where she spends her days writing, eating cheese, and occasionally binge watching The Vampire Diaries.