Lea Saldana and Val Da Via  are members of rival Families of assassins and their romance is strictly forbidden. Lea and Val are like Romeo and Juliet…. if Romeo was a back stabbing asshole.  What’s a girl to do when she’s betrayed by the boy she loves? First get mad….then get even!

From the book flap:

Seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana is a trained assassin. She was born into one of the nine clipper Families in the kingdom of Lovero who lawfully take lives for a price. As a member of the highest-ranking clan, loyalty to Family is valued above all, but that doesn’t stop Lea from getting into a secret relationship with Val Da Via, a boy from a rival clan. Despite her better judgment, Lea has fallen in love with him; but she’s confident she can anticipate any threat a mile away.

Then she awakens one night to a house full of smoke. Although she narrowly escapes, she isn’t able to save her Family as their home is consumed by flames. With horror, she realizes that Val and his Family are the only ones who could be responsible. Devastated over his betrayal and the loss of her clan, there’s just one thing on her mind: making the Da Vias pay. The heart of this assassin craves revenge.

Overall: I’ve had my fair share of bad boyfriends, but Val takes the cake. Just hours after Lea and Val have a romantic dinner together, Val’s mother orchestrates  the vicious murder of Lea’s ENTIRE FAMILY. Sure, Lea and Val are assassins for rival Families, but Lea never expected such a betrayal from the boy she loved and trusted despite their differences. So what’s a girl to do? First get mad, then get even! But getting revenge after you’ve been recently orphaned is no easy task, especially when every other assassin in the city is trying to kill you for the bounty on your head.  But Lea isn’t alone for too long. She finds support in a few unlikely allies. But will it be enough?

A book about teenaged hired killer sounds pretty brutal, but the world Ahiers creates is one where death leads to rebirth and assassins are hired to hasten the process and to dole out justice. Lea isn’t so much a cold blooded killer and she is a self-appointed angel of death, come to deliver her victims to the arms of her god for judgment. It sounds heavy handed, but it works in the world Ahiers creates. Lea is stubborn, heart broken and soul crushed at the beginning of the story. The death of her family and the betrayal by her love are where the story begins, not where it ends. After Lea gets over the shock of what has happened she must find out exactly why the Da Via and Saldana families are such fierce rivals.

Kick-Ass Factor: You don’t get to be one of the best hired killers in your town unless you can kick some major ass. Nuff said.

Body Count: In a book about a teenage assassin, there are bound to be casualties. Lots of them. Frankly, I lost count of the corpses. Lea can kill with swords, knives, her bare hands….but her favorite is poison.

The Chosen One: Sometimes being The Chosen One really sucks. Sure, Oleander survived the massacre of her family, but that leaves her alone and heart broken and the only Saldana left to avenge their murders. We’re talking some major survivor’s guilt here.

Bizarre Love Triangle: Lea’s heart is broken when she is betrayed by her boyfriend Val. But as she meets a young handsome ally, she must decide if she is truly ready to let Val go.

Open tab/Last call: According to Ahiers, the story in Assassin’s Heart is a stand-alone, but there will be a sequel/companion novel. With such a well crafted world of assassins, rival families, and competing theologies, we’re not quite ready to say good-bye to declare last call. When book 2 is released the drinks are on us!

Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers,  February 2, 2016,  Harper Teen, 432 pages. Available for pre-order at Inkwood Books.