Review: Assistant to the Villain
Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Assistant to the Villain (Assistant to the Villain, #1)Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's been a while since I've had this much fun with a romance novel, but Assistant to the Villain was a superb read! A great balance of comedy and romance with a dash of mystery to spice things up.

The one thing that I would warn people of: this book has a MASSIVE CLIFFHANGER. There isn't much in the way of resolution at the end, so the novel reads more like the first half of a larger story. If you don't like cliffhangers, don't start this book until the series is finished. That said, the dreaded cliffhanger was not enough for me to lower my rating for this otherwise well-written book.

The highlight of the story was definitely the colorful characters. Both the two narrative characters and their supporting cast were well-realized, with distinct personalities and hinted at or explicit backstories that help perpetuate the world outside of the events of the main plot. The backbone of said character development was done primarily through the use of dialogue. At times the "dry whit" was a bit overdone, but usually it was deftly balanced with the character's internal monologue to help ground the scenes and walk the fine line between amusing and eye-rolling silliness (though there was a considerable amount of eye-rolling in the story).

The main female protagonist, the villain's assistant, is a headstrong young woman with no brain-to-mouth filter and a rather low sense of self-worth but a determinedness to prove to herself that she is not a waste of space in the world. The main male character, and the second half of the romantic arc that is the main focus of the story, is "the Villain." He is a person defined by his traumas who's closed himself off from positive emotions like love and mercy, except that he hasn't. Not really. He just hides them.

The main plot of the story is that there is a mole in the Villain's evil empire, and he and his assistant must discover who it is. Their forced proximity and growing admiration for each other blooms into indisputable love over the course of the story, though there's also an element of love-at-first-sight that has them making somewhat irrational decisions from the very beginning. The plot line has a satisfying twist, with plenty of clues scattered throughout to keep the reader engaged, though the mystery definitely takes a backseat to the romance and comedy in this story.

All in all, this was a wildly successful story that left me cheering for the characters and eager for the next book.

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