*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: This Vicious Grace
Author: Emily Thiede
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: June 28, 2022
Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa’s gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a partner’s magic, not kill every suitor she touches. Now, with only weeks left until a hungry swarm of demons devours everything on her island home, Alessa is running out of time to find a partner and stop the invasion. When a powerful priest convinces the faithful that killing Alessa is the island’s only hope, her own soldiers try to assassinate her. Desperate to survive, Alessa hires Dante, a cynical outcast marked as a killer, to become her personal bodyguard. But as rebellion explodes outside the gates, Dante’s dark secrets may be the biggest betrayal. He holds the key to her survival and her heart, but is he the one person who can help her master her gift or destroy her once and for all?
I can’t believe this novel—the first in a new series— is Thiede’s DEBUT novel. An incredible story based in a fantasy, Italian-inspired realism, it is told from the perspective of the Finestra, Alessa, who is expected to ascend to power with the assistance of her partner, or Fonte, but Alessa can’t stop accidentally killing her Fontes. And that’s a huge problem. Her power can’t be controlled and it seems like she just might end up losing everything. She cannot fulfill her birthright without her Fonte, which means she won’t be able to save her people from the impending doom that history foretells.
Enter, Dante. Found in the slums of the city, these hard-edge street fighter sparks something in Alessa. Below his solid, cold exterior, she seems hints of something good buried deep within him. She’s in desperate need of protection and the only way she can ensure her safety is to hire someone outside of the Citadel. Dante provides all the answers that she’s looking for. However, no matter how much Alessa tries to truly understand him, she can’t seem to get to the core of who he truly is. The secrets that he hides keep him walled off from everyone around him. Alessa trusts blindly—could he be her greatest asset, or will he be the source of her demise?
Gods, magic, romance, touches that kill, impending apocalypse, there’s nothing more needed here. Excellently written prose, gorgeous setting, incredible world-building, enchanting characters, and forbidden romance? Yes please! I’m all for this series, and I can’t wait to see where it’s going next. My biggest complaint is that I have to wait for book 2!