The reason I read this was a desire for a sweet fantasy romance and fun poison hijinks. I suppose those expectations were met, but they were only met, never exceeded. Nothing about Poison Study surprised me or enchanted me. It was entirely standard in every way.Based on most of the goodreads reviews I read, the romance between the two characters was charming and swoonworthy. But to me it was just…meh. Nothing objectionable, but no sexual tension to write home about. Like so many authors, Snyder creates obstacles to prevent the relationship from coming to fruition. This tactic is all right if the obstacles are legitimate, but in Poison Study, they weren’t. Most of the deterrents were simply Yelena, the protagonist, thinking, “even though Valek’s actions indicate he is quite smitten with me, he’s obviously not. So we can’t be together.” Stupid reasons are stupid! A veritable obstacle is not the denial of feelings for no reason. And then, the shining moment of every novel heavy on romance, the moment of the first kiss and acknowledgement of requited love, was underwhelming. And afterward, once again, there were silly manufactured reasons why the couple couldn’t be together, which led to this gem of dialogue: “Yelena, you need to learn, you need to find your family, you need to spread your wings and see how far you can fly.” Gag. Clichés for days, that’s what Poison Study’s romance was for me.The writing is also simplistic. Snyder explains everything to the reader, despite the fact that almost everything is immediately obvious. I was surprised one time while reading this when the Commander was transgender. The prose itself is like this: Using participial phrases at the beginning of many sentences, Snyder writes her story. Reading participial phrases at the beginning of too many sentences, I wanted to stop reading. The main thing I enjoyed about Poison Study was Snyder’s fantasy world. I was expecting your basic castle setting with various villages flung about the kingdom. Instead, it’s a military state, a state straddling the line between utopia and dystopia. Fortunately, Snyder lets readers make their own assessments and the book doesn’t ever turn into an adventure set on bringing down the Big Bad Government. Still, Poison Study was immensely unsatisfying. The villains, the romance, the writing—essentially everything!—was simplistic and straightforward.