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.
This was one of my most anticipated books from BEA and I am so sad about how it turned out. I remember seeing the cover for The Jewel for the 1st time on Tea Time and getting really excited and now, I’m just disappointed.
The basic premise of this book is pretty simple. People of nobility are no longer able to have their own children due to some sort of genetic malfunction and women from lower classes are forced to become surrogates, assuming they carry the gene that lets them carry royal babies that is. Violet, our main character, is one of these surrogates and she ends up being sold to The Duchess, a high-ranking person of nobility. But while under the Duchess’ care, Violet starts a forbidden romance with someone hired by the Duchess.
While The Jewel sounds promising, I was very disappointed with the execution. I felt that the world-building was somewhat basic, having cities named after their geographic qualities and not much else. I liked the element of magic that the world seemed to contain but besides that, the world-building seemed to have the same basic elements of class structure and behaviour. Despite the world-building, I thought that the plot was fairly interesting and there were definitely a lot of surprising parts.
While I would like to discuss the main character, I think that’ll have to wait until the end. The main character, Violet, was fairly irksome (details to come) but I enjoyed the depth of each side character. The other characters, specifically her friends, were very unique and had their distinctive personalities and I enjoyed that aspect of the world-building. So you see while I enjoyed some parts of The Jewel, I was fairly disappointed for many things.
The romance was just irritating. There, I said it. The Jewel was just a prime example of instalove and why I hate it. First, when Violet meets the love interest, she immediately remarks how *different* he is and how handsome he is. Please understand this Violet, handsomeness does not mean that this love interest is any different from someone else, he just happens to look nice. Attractiveness does not equal automatic uniqueness or sensitivity you haven’t seen before. Also, the ferocity in which these characters start to like each other is somewhat appalling. They meet once, kiss a couple chapters later and BAM, they start spitting out ‘I love you’ and ‘we’ll be together forever’ nonsense that made me want to slam my book across the room. The gist: the romance is too instalovey and makes me want to yell at people.
With the romance, comes the need to discuss Violet, our main character. The romance was a crucial part of developping Violet’s character, which I did not like. Sure, Violet is determined, somewhat free-spirited and sassy but she didn’t really realize these parts of herself until the love interest came along. And by then, she was becoming too co-dependent to really become the character I wanted her to be.
In general, while the world-building was good, the romance and character development wasn’t my favourite. The cliffhanger was intense and very unpredictable which sort of makes me angry because as much as I disliked this one, I still want to read the sequel.