Vitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s a trained assassin for the resistance, and her true play is for ultimate power. Using her charm and wit, she plans to seduce her way into the emperor’s bed and deal him one final, fatal blow, sparking a battle of succession that could change the face of the empire.
As the ruler of a country on the brink of war and the son of a deposed emperor, Lucien must constantly be wary of an attempt on his life. But he’s drawn to the stunning Caturanga player visiting the palace. Vitala may be able to distract him from his woes for a while—and fulfill other needs, as well.
Lucien’s quick mind and considerable skills awaken unexpected desires in Vitala, weakening her resolve to finish her mission. An assassin cannot fall for her prey, but Vitala’s gut is telling her to protect this sexy, sensitive man. Now she must decide where her heart and loyalties lie and navigate the dangerous war of politics before her gambit causes her to lose both Lucien and her heart for good.…
In a strong debut launching an Ancient Rome inspired romantic fantasy series, Raby offers a captivating tale of an assassin who falls for her target. Vitala Salonius is part of the Obsidian Circle, a group dedicated to winning independence for their homeland of Riorca from the Kjallan Empire. She's sent to seduce and kill Emperor Lucien, but before she can make her move, Lucien is deposed by ruthless politician Cassian, who despises the Riorcans. To protect her people from Cassian's oppression, which she believes will be worse than Lucien's, Vitalia must guard the fallen emperor and restore him to the throne. Meanwhile their unlikely partnership deepens into love. The main characters have excellent chemistry, meshing right from the start. In addition to the richly imagined world and a delightfully entertaining tale of magic and intrigue, Raby also delivers an understated yet versatile magic system and a convincing, sensitive portrayal of Vitalia's efforts to reclaim her life from posttraumatic stress.
Assassin heroine + amputee hero = unique, action-packed fantasy romance
Assassin's Gambit delivers a perfect, high-stakes story of clashing empires along with a love story so tender and realistic it left me breathless.
First, the world-building. Amy Raby is a debut author, but her exceptional economy of words is on par with the pros of fantasy writing. It amazes me how efficiently yet vividly she breathes life into a unique magic system and a lush and varied backdrop of warring fantasy nations. There's even a fascinating chess-like game called Caturanga that adds dimension and fun to the story. It takes talent to describe so much without slowing pacing one iota. For her world-building alone, I applaud Ms. Raby, but that's just the beginning.
While sending her characters, amputee emperor Lucien Florian Nigellus and rebel assassin Vitala Salonius on a journey that will dictate the fate of nations, Raby develops a love story that bravely faces the emotional and mental damages left in the wake of horrendous battle injury and sexual trauma. The touchiness of the subject matter could easily turn the story dark, but Raby infuses this powerful tale with light and hope. The happy ending was hard won, well deserved by the characters, and is one I won't soon forget.
Fans of epic fantasy, historical romance, and fantasy romance will all find much to love in Assassin's Gambit. I can't wait for Raby's next book in the series. This is an auto-buy author for me.
This book is a must read. It is engaging and the characters are well developed. I love the setting and the story line. It is much different from other books I've read which is refreshing I can't wait to read the next book.