Poison Study  - Maria V. Snyder
Our protagonist is Yelena, who has just literally been dragged from the dungeon where she has been held following the murder she committed and given an ultimatum: she can either be hanged, or choose to become the food taster for the Commander, head of the group of generals who have taken over the country where Yelena grew up. Obviously, she chooses the latter option, otherwise this would be a very short book.

The thing about Poison Study is that it starts quite promisingly, but as time goes on and Yelena proves herself not only adept in learning about poisons, but also a quick study in self-defence, the MarySue-ness of her nature starts to protrude into the story. It's not long before it's apparent to everyone except Yelena herself (who also has the requisite Tragic Past to fall back on when it comes to excusing the fact she's a murderer) that everyone is pretty much smitten with her to a greater or lesser degree.

This is particularly obvious where Valek, the Commander's somewhat psychopathic head of security, is concerned and it's that whole sub-plot which eventually leads me to wonder whether I can be bothered to continue the series (which continues with [book:Magic Study]). Valek is a self-avowed multiple murderer, though he also has a Tragic Past to try and give him reasons for some of it, and also an extremely manipulative s-o-b and yet the message is that Love Conquers All Psychological Defects, which is always a bit worrying to come across.