I'm one of the publishers of All About Romance. I love reading romance, as well as mysteries, fantasy, history and historical fiction, and all kinds of other things. Staying on Goodreads for now but trying this out in case I decide to switch.
I enjoyed a lot of things about this book, but parts of it also drove me nuts. For starters, I thought the writing was strong and I liked the author's voice. I could feel Katsa and Po's world coming to life as I read, and I appreciated that.
I also liked seeing the relationship build between Katsa and Po. Po, especially, showed an ability to love Katsa as she was rather than for who he thought she should be, and I found that irresistible. I also enjoyed reading about lead characters who have some complexity to them. Katsa, as a trained killer, certainly has some unappealing traits, but she also has a moral code and while Po may not be anyone's assassin, he's certainly no two-dimensional cardboard cutout of a hero. Complex characters have a way of making a reader think and I did like that about these two.
However, as the book moved into its second half, I have to admit that it started driving me crazy. While the author did manage to throw in a few curveballs, the identity of the villain was pretty obvious by the halfway point and the ultimate climax of the book ended up being somewhat disappointing. I finished reading and found myself wondering, "This is all there is?"
In addition, while I love reading books with strong female characters, I did find it annoying that the author found the need to reinforce Katsa's strength by telling us over and over (and over) that she didn't want to marry or have children. Being interested in pretty dresses, having long hair or wanting to have a family does not mean a woman isn't strong, so I tend to get impatient with authors who try to sell me on the idea that a female character is strong because she isn't interested in anything seen as traditionally feminine. If someone wants me to believe in a character's strength and intelligence, I need something more than that.
Even so, the world in which Graceling is set drew me in and while I did roll my eyes on occasion, I enjoyed the book overall.