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.
First of all, love the cover. There’s something about beautiful dresses on covers that just strikes me (I’m looking at you, Selection series). Anyways, I must say that I was interested in this book because of it’s similarity in premises to The Handmaid’s Tale. Granted, it’s not exactly the same, but they both revolve around the idea of surrogacy, with elites and wealthy having all the power while the poorer bunch get the worst of it.
Violet originally begins as a bit of a timid girl, not that I blame her. She’s been trained at a special ‘school’ where certain girls born with good genes are taken to after being rounded up. She understands that the only way to survive is keep her head down, and that works – for a bit. Once she gets in to her household, she quickly realizes how difficult life could be, both physically with her skills and mentally dealing with the woman who owns her. Surrogates are paraded around as show dogs and told to do ‘tricks’ with the powers that they have been trained in, but the problem is those powers come at a cost.
Eventually, Violet stumbles upon the stirrings of a rebellion, and people plan to help her get out. Only, it doesn’t go so smoothly. Nothing ever does. I do like the fact that instead of her becoming the ‘face’ of a rebellion, as easy as it is for this type of book to fall into that trap, she’s just another one of the girls being rescued. There is enough ‘teenage rebellion leader’ tropes going around, it was refreshing to see someone not take the reigns immediately after joining the resistance after all.
Then there is the matter of the extremely forbidden romance. Boy does Violet get in over her head on that one. I can’t give away much, but it is so conflicting I don’t even know what to think.
There is two more books to the series so far, one I’ve read and one I haven’t. I need to pick up the third one ASAP.
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