The Queen's Bastard (The Inheritor's Cycle Book 1) by C.E. Murphy (2008)
Description: In a world where religion has ripped apart the old order, Belinda Primrose is the queen's secret weapon. The unacknowledged daughter of Lorraine, the first queen to sit on the Aulunian throne, Belinda has been trained as a spy since the age of twelve by her father, Lorraine's lover and spymaster.
Cunning and alluring, fluent in languages and able to take on any persona, Belinda can infiltrate the glittering court of Echon, where her mother's enemies conspire. She can seduce at will and kill if she must. But Belinda's spying takes a new twist when her witchlight appears.
Now Belinda's powers are unlike anything Lorraine could have imagined. They can turn an obedient daughter into a rival who understands that anything can be hers, including the wickedly sensual Javier, whose throne Lorraine both covets and fears. But Javier is also witchbreed, a man whose ability rivals Belinda's own... and can be just as dangerous.
Amid court intrigue and magic, loyalty and love can lead to more daring passions, as Belinda discovers that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.
Review: This had a most interesting premise, but I somehow feel shortchanged. I was excited to get my hands on it after reading a review of it in Publisher's Weekly. After reading it, I have mixed feelings. While I like the overall story, there was almost a creepy feel to it. Some of the sexual content is a bit bizarre to say the least. Even with all of that, I still liked the main story enough to want to continue on with the trilogy. I would caution readers in saying that if you are a bit squeamish when it comes to literary sex, you may want to avoid this tome. All in all, not bad, but some of that sexual content could have been eliminated.
Score: 3 out of 5