The Jewel by Amy Ewing
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book was a real letdown. It's really 2.5 stars, but I've given it 3 stars because I am feeling generous.
So, Violet has special skills (read: magic) that make her the ideal surrogate for rich women, who for some reason cannot have children of their own.
Firstly, The Jewel was incredibly slow moving (and I mean incredibly). I feel like nothing even happened for the first two thirds of this book. Like, nothing. Sure, we get the cursory description of the world, the social structure and the surrogacy system... but I feel like the information we are given about the world is unfinished, that I ended up with more questions by the time Ewing was done explaining things. Like why can't the royalty have babies? Also, how do they implant their eggs into surrogates if all the royalty are sterilised? And why/how do the Auguries exist? And those are just the unanswered questions I remembered while writing this review.
The romance was pitched as one of the central "points" of this book, and yet we do not meet Ash until ~200 pages into the book. They fall in love ridiculously quickly, which felt forced and unrealistic. I really liked the character Ash, seeing as the idea of the companions was an interesting side to this book. I enjoy novels that approach the idea of sex work in a semi-positive fashion, since it's such a stigmatised topic in real life.
So why did I give it 3 stars if I saw all these negatives? One thing that redeemed this novel for me was Ewing's writing style. I enjoyed her prose, and reading The Jewel was relatively easy because of this. I do not think I could have sat through the earlier parts of the novel if the writing was sub-par. Kudos, Ewing! I also liked some of the secondary characters, as they seemed to have a little more personality than Violet - Annabelle, Raven, Lucien and Garnet come to mind. The ending kept me intrigued enough to read the next book as well - I rate a good ending highly, especially in the first novel of a series.
Overall, this book was slow-moving with a romance that felt forced, and a bunch of unanswered questions (and not the good cliffhanger-y kind). Ewing's quality writing style and some of the secondary characters made the novel worth a read.
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