Saturday, March 30, 2013

An Assassin In Love (The Unlikely Romance in Grave Mercy)


We are in the middle of the Attack of the Assassins! blog tour, a week-long celebration of the His Fair Assassins series by Robin LaFevers and the release of the second book in the series, Dark Triumph. To check out all of the great events going on this week (and to enter a giveaway!) check out my introductory post.

Today we have a guest post from the lovely Molli Moran of Once Upon a Prologue, who is here to talk about one of my favorite literary couples ever, Ismae and Duval of Grave Mercy. Take it away, Molli!

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An Assassin in Love

The Unlikely Romance in Grave Mercy

by Molli Moran

I recently received an e-galley of Dark Triumph, and after a good long squee with Shelver and a few other friends who enjoyed Grave Mercy as much (and in some cases, more) than I did, I was thrilled to participate in Shelver’s celebration of the His Fair Assassin series. These books are admittedly something I wasn’t sure I’d love as much as I did, but having now read both the first and second books, I’m officially a Robin LaFevers fangirl. This lady is seriously talented when it comes to spinning tales of court intrigue, romance, and the macabre. It’s her penchant for creating swoon-worthy romances that I want to talk about today.

There are a few tropes I’m guaranteed to fall for just about every time, and one of them is the “I-hate-you-and-could-never-love-you/holy-crapola-I’m-in-love-with-you.” What really tickles me is when an author can take that trope and make me really BELIEVE it, and breathe new life into it. And that’s exactly what Robin did with Ismae and Gavriel Duval.
I can feel Duval studying me; it makes my skin itch. After a moment, he shakes his head, as if unable to believe the trap that has been sprung upon him. “They will think me a besotted fool.”

I shrug and keep my attention fixed on the stables, willing the old sailor to return with our horses as quickly as possible. “If the boot fits, milord…”

He snorts. “I am many things, but besotted with you is not one of them.”
Forced to work with Gavriel to do her convent’s bidding, Ismae grudgingly accepts her mission, and her unlikely alliance with the duchess’s bastard half-brother. Although they exchanged some powerful snark, sprinkled in with a healthy dose of mistrust at first, there was just SOMETHING to their banter – something undeniably strong between them.
“What is my fair assassin so afraid of? I wonder.”

“I’m not afraid.”

Duval tilts his head to the side. “No?” He studies me a long moment, then rises out of his chair. I hold my breath as he crosses to my bed. “Are you afraid I will draw closer, perhaps?” His voice is pitched low, little more than a purr. My breath catches in my throat, trapped by something I long to call fear but that doesn’t feel like fear at all.
The more I read about Gavriel, the more drawn I was to him. And the more Ismae learned about him, the more drawn SHE was to him. Ms LaFevers did an amazing job of showing – and not just telling – their chemistry, that mutual attraction between them. She didn’t rush anything, but rather, let it evolve organically, and it was so beautiful!
It is Duval who sets my heart to racing, who addles my wits, who makes me short of breath. For even when he is angry, he is kind, and not the mere surface kindness of good manners, but a true caring. Or at least, the appearance of true caring, for I am well aware it could all be an act. An act designed to earn my trust. And just like some poor, dumb rabbit, I have stumbled into his snare.
Ismae, who has only known cruelty from men, and never tenderness, or longing, struggles with what she is feeling for Duval. It’s hard enough to wonder if she can trust him, without having to wonder if she’s falling for him. The attraction turned to a bone-deep connection and need between them, and it was heart-wrenching seeing their back-and-forth take on a new level – from sarcastic banter to a growing, true, caring, as in the quote above. They began to truly SEE one another for who they were, but as a reader, I was always aware of how precarious their situation was.
His hand moves up to cup my face. Slowly he draws me closer, lowering his head to meet mine. His touch is careful, as if I am fragile and precious.
It was impossible to do anything but cheer for Ismae and Duval. They got under each other’s skin, and under MY skin. Even as I fell hard for their relationship, and loved watching them begin to trust one another, I was terrified of the surrounding circumstances…but wanted nothing more than for them to get their happy ending.
The nights are our own. We sit in front of the fire Duval has built, our bodies touching from hip to shoulder, and share wine from a skin and roasted meat from a spit. We talk of small things, private things. It is a sweet, glorious time, and I know it will be over far too soon.
Ismae and Gavriel have the sort of relationship that I crave to read about – despite their shaky start, they become an incredibly strong couple that I really believed in, and could put credence behind. They become not just two people who are together, but a team – imperfect, yes, but better because of it. Robin LaFevers wrote them so beautifully that even though it’s been some time since I read Grave Mercy, I know I’ll re-read it time and time again to watch Ismae and Duval fall in love all over again.

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Great post, Molli!

She hits every point perfectly on why I adore Ismae and Duval. It's taking all my self-restraint not to read Grave Mercy right this second. If you love a quality, slow-burn romance, you NEED to read this book.

Alright all, it may be Saturday, but the Attack of the Assassins! blog tour is nowhere near finished. Check out the calendar of events to catch up on any posts you might have missed, find out what you have to look forward to next week, and enter our giveaway!