It starts pretty well then it slows waaaaaaayyyy down to get all the nuts and bolts of the world in and then it picks up nicely in the second half. I'd say it took until 50-60% for me to get really invested in this story of convent-raised young women who are trained assassins. But I was eventually fully engaged. I'll definitely pick up the next one in the series.
This is not a romance although there is a romantic story line. It's a tale of intrigue. I was suspicious of the villain from the start, but then I realized I was fairly suspicious of most of the characters so I can't really crow about calling it. ;D