Title: The Jewel (The Lone City #1)
Author: Amy Ewing
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date: September 2, 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.
Debut author Amy Ewing expertly crafts an enchanting story full of riches, rivalries, and riveting twists and turns that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end.
A lot was promised of Amy Ewing's debut novel, The Jewel. It has been compared to The Handmaid's Tale and The Selection, both of which I love. Hell, it even started out strong with a heroine who saw the gross unfairness and horror of the system, yet did not lose herself while surviving. She even fought against it when she could. However, despite all the promise The Jewel held and how good the first half was, it ended up being the biggest disappointment to me so far in 2014.
I won't lie - I couldn't put The Jewel down after I started reading it. I couldn't begrudge it even its comparisons to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale because it tackled the lack of fertility freedom in that society and a dystopian ruling class that controls the ideal females of child-bearing age. The characters were also complex, with the Duchess of the Lake being my favorite in spite and because of her villainy. The Jewel was on track for four or five stars.
Violet Lasting was made into Lot #197, yet did not lose herself in the horrible system, as I said before. She was pretty outstanding until about 53% of the way into the book. Then we met Ash Lockwood, who is the catalyst for the story's ruin, in my opinion. Yes, he shows another awful facet of the Jewel society. However, there is an instalove between them so forcefully quick that I got a headache from rolling my eyes and was surprised when I didn't get whiplash from the sudden takeoff. Violet was too careful and too slow to trust that it was out of character for her. I don't think she'd put herself, her family, or even Ash in danger. It just did not fit.
Two wild cards that I didn't see enough of but wanted to know more about were Lucien and Garnet. Lucien was the Electress' male lady-in-waiting, and Garnet was the Duchess' son. I wish there had been more intel on them, considering their roles in the story.
The world-building of The Jewel was solid enough and the best part of the book. It was a world that was similar to our own with its technology and advances (with Victorian-like values), and there was a little bit of "magic" despite it doing the dystopia thing. I know some early reviewers said that the surrogacy and sterilization thing did not make sense to them, but I got it. Highlight the next two sentences if you don't mind SPOILERS. The royalty got sterilized because they cannot manipulate the fetuses, and their children tend to be weak when naturally conceived. That's why they started using surrogates.
The Jewel could have been a lot of things, but the romance completely took it off-track. I'd love to read and learn more about the world that Ewing created, but it will be hard to stomach much more of Ash and Violet.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.
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You are going to put words in my box?! *squeezes you* Now I shall stalk YOUR blog!