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Taking a break from urban fantasy, Murphy (House of Cards) turns to this uneven opener for a Reformation-inspired fantasy series. Belinda Primrose is a lovely young woman whose mysterious father, Lord Drake, has trained her to be an assassin serving Lorraine, the queen of Aulun. While Belinda is Lorraine's unacknowledged bastard, young Prince Javier of Gallin was secretly adopted by Lorraine's dangerous rival, Queen Sandalia, when her husband's untimely death caused her to miscarry the child who was to be Gallin's heir. When Javier encounters Belinda while she's on a spy mission in Gallin, he falls hopelessly in love with her, a devotion that deepens when they discover they're both "witchbreed" magic users. Murphy excels in depicting their passion, but readers looking for romance will be shocked when Belinda incites and abets Javier's rape of another woman, and the talky political intrigue frequently comes at the expense of much-needed action. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.