Monday, November 25, 2019

Book Review: 'To Seduce An Assassin' by Jayla Jasso

Colorado author Jayla Jasso has at heart always been a writer and her latest novel (her fourth) TO SEDUCE AN ASSASSIN is proof that determination pays off. Jayla has been a secretary in East Texas, served n the Army, graduated with a degree in English from the University of Oklahoma and now teaches high school by day and writes by night. Of interest, Jayla speaks fluent Spanish, is an expert vegan soup chef and an avid Xbox role-playing game! Lots of food for inspiration for her romance/historical romance novels.

Jayla steps into a new dimension for this novel that passes easily from other times and places to the present. The opening is flavored with mystery, intrigue and a note of lust - ‘Yavi checked the grappling hook to ensure it was secure before vaulting himself over the windowsill in his room and lowering himself down the smooth stone wall of the palace. A full moon hung low in the sky, illuminating the palace’s tall spires and sleek, white walls. Yavi dropped soundlessly onto the balcony below, retrieved his hook, then hung it over the next balustrade so he could descend another fifty feet to a second balcony. Their palace was bloody tall, he thought as he landed with a soft oof on the stone floor of the lower balcony. One more long jump down— no rope necessary— and he’d be within a few feet of the stables, where he could slip in, steal Sikar, and be off before anyone noticed the emperor had left the premises. Especially his pest of a brother, who would insist on tagging along if he knew what Yavi was up to. Sleep, my brother. Keep that lovely wife of yours warm tonight.’

The plot of this complex but intriguing story is set forth well in the author’s synopsis – ‘Certain Oaths are destined to be broken. Graciella’s heart has always belonged to Yavi of the Zulfikars, her sister’s husband’s twin. Yes, he is ten years her senior; yes, he sees her as a child; and yes, he is now the supreme Emperor of Nandala. But his handsome silvery eyes, his firm jaw, and tall, muscular build has filled Graciella’s fantasies for six long years, and she fervently longs to conquer his troubled heart. When her sister finally sends for her to come to the palace at Darpan for an extended visit, Graciella knows her opportunity to win Yavi’s love has arrived, and she is determined to make sure there’s no doubt in his mind she’s a full-grown woman. And seeing Yavi again does not disappoint – six years have only made his stern face even handsomer, and daily sword practice has developed his muscled body even harder and leaner. Now if Graciella can just outwit the washing girl whose sights are also set on the Emperor, and use her intelligence and feminine charms to the fullest, maybe…just maybe…she can melt Yavi’s stone-cold heart. Yavi’s sworn off seducing young women ever since his philandering six years prior provoked a wicked sorceress’ jealousy and caused the death of an innocent young maid. He now shoulders the primary burden of governing Nandala and can’t allow himself the luxury of pleasing distractions. He’s made an oath of celibacy before Tejeshwar, in hopes of atoning for his past sins and garnering favor on behalf of his struggling, starving nation. So when Jiandra’s younger sister comes to visit, Yavi vows never to touch her, no matter how torturously tempting she is. But living in close quarters with Graciella Stovy is no easy road for any healthy red-blooded man, especially when she insists on wearing one certain dress, expertly cooking his favorite Nandalan dish, and running into his arms to escape the ghost haunting her palace bedroom. But just as Graciella’s sweetness and light begins to break down the icy barriers around Yavi’s heart, trouble comes to Nandala. An ancient evil festers in a fortress beneath the ground, a flesh-eating race of undead is gathering, and a bastard son of Thakur seeks to devour the Zulfikar brothers and take the throne. Yavi is the only one who can stop it, even if it means being torn away from Graciella forever. Let the war for Nandala begin.

Pure fantasy mixed with steamy erotica and a profound respect for history and mythology – this is a fine novel by a lady who knows her craft. Grady Harp, July 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.