Jeweled (Court of Edaeii #1)

JeweledBy Anya Bast

Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publication Date: November 2, 2010
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Author

In the Court of Edaeii, magic-imbued Evangeline is rewarded for her gift in manipulating emotion with a sapphire stone set into the perfect curve of her lower back. Her greatest rival in the royal court is the enigmatic Anatol, instilled with the power of illusion. He may best her in magic, but he is her absolute equal in passion.

They share something else-they’re both targets of low-born revolutionaries. Rescued by Gregorio, the brilliant revolutionary mastermind, they’re given sanctuary. But in this warm refuge, Evangeline soon finds herself torn between the magic of one man she has always desired, and the excitingly new and radical moves of another. For her, there is only one choice: indulge in pleasure without limits.

Goodreads Summary

In Rylisk, there is a distinct political, financial and social hierarchy: you are non-magicked, magicked and at the top, you are J’Edaeii, someone considered especially adept.  The Czar rules all and the rural peasants have no voice.

Emotion-wielder Evangeline and illusionist Anatol have just been Jeweled as J’Edaeii when the Court of Edaeii at Belai is overrun with revolutionists intent on overthrowing the Czar and magicks. The two manage to escape in the chaos and with the help from a prostitute, end up in a rundown apartment, where they spend many weeks barely eking out an existence. When the palace fell, magicks became hunted and when caught, beheaded, so the two have had to hide who and what they are. When Anatol is betrayed and captured, Evangeline must turn to the revolution’s leader Gregorio for help to free him.

Because of the nature of her talent and some trauma from her childhood, Evangeline kept her own emotions walled off, but when she and Anatol were first forced to flee, she couldn’t hold her feelings back anymore.  Anatol was finally able to convince her he loved her and the two started a passionate affair.  He really became her first lover, the only man she’d ever been with because she wanted to be rather than for any social or political gain, and the only one she’d ever felt pleasure with.  When Gregorio entered the picture, Evangeline was first angry with him for destroying her way of life and causing the deaths of her friends then was drawn to him, both for his intellect and for his raw, intense sexuality. Seeing that there were facets to each of them that fulfilled needs in her, Anatol essentially gave Evangeline and Gregorio permission to begin a relationship, with the understanding that he would still be a part of things as well, that he wasn’t going to give her up.

The world-building and especially the time spent alone with Evangeline and Anatol before they meet up with Gregorio here is amazing; it has a feel of something between the French Revolution, the Russian Bolshevik uprising and the Great Depression. There are enough other elements also included that along with the (somewhat limited) paranormal things, I had a hard time figuring out what genre I was reading, and I mean that in a good way.I was a little ambivalent about the relationship between Evangeline, Anatol and Gregorio. There were definite plot elements that pointed to a successful ménage, but I didn’t quite feel like it gelled for the men. I wasn’t convinced Anatol’s heart wasn’t a little broken by Evangeline’s need for Gregorio and I wasn’t sure Gregorio was all that happy about having to share her with Anatol. I think the three of them in bed together worked perfectly well as three people having incredible sex together (m/f/m), but I don’t know about how well it went as a committed ménage. I think it needed more time “off the page” in my head.

Did this affect my enjoyment of the book?  Barely.  I loved the backdrop; I really can’t say enough about how rich it is, how much the tone of it affects the story of Evangeline and sets it apart from what you would consider a “typical” paranormal.  The erotic elements are exactly what you’d expect from Bast: intense, well-placed, well-written and emotional, worth popping a chocolate or two in your mouth while reading (my highest accolade).  While there is less emphasis on using magick here than you might expect, I recommend reading this for those reasons alone.

My Rating: B

Barbara

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