I have decided that it is time for a classic. I first read this book at 17, and the character comes of age in this book, so I am considering it the sort of thing 'young adults' read.
I must warn you, this book has Mature Content. As in, well . . . let me explain. Phedre, the main character, is a courtesan in the land of Terre d'Ange. Trained from a small child to be adept in the lover's arts, she also feels pain and pleasure as one. So, you cut her, she gets off on that.
What makes it even more interesting is that she was chosen by the gods to be this way, and most of what we would call prostitutes are considered holy in their culture. The myth and religion is really an interesting take in this book; there is God and Yeshua (Jesus), but there's also Yeshua's son, Elua, and all these angels, one of whom has 'relations' with strange men for money to feed Elua.
As if that's not enough to enthrall you (which it was for me), she is adopted by a man who trains her to also be a spy. She learns multiple languages, how to pick up on information people aren't expecting her to catch, and other things.
But she also likes to sneak off to play with her gypsy friend, and kind of has a crush on the guy who adopted her . . . and then there's this one chick, Melisande Shahrizai who really gets what all she can do with Phedre in bed (or on the dinner table, whatever), and then she does some crazy stuff, and then about halfway through the book you will say, "OMFG WTF OMG OMG WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!"
I will not tell you what happened, because that would be a spoiler, and that is bad. We don't want that. Let's just say there are people Phedre knows and some death and some treachery, and this all happens when she's about fifteen and that's kind of a lot for a fifteen year old prostitute.
The next book, Kushiel's Chosen, is also fantastic, and the final in Phedre's trilogy, Kushiel's Avatar, is again, amazing.
Jacqueline Carey also followed up Phedre's story with a prince of the realm's story in traditional trilogy format in which he comes of age (and yes, there is mature content here as well):
And now she's gone back to Terre d'Ange to tell another tale (with mature content):Naamah's Kiss is the beginning of a new series, with the next one available for preorder: Naamah's Curse. This one is set in the same world, but features different characters and is some time after Phedre is gone. One thing I like about Carey's books is that characters go EVERYWHERE, and end up helping people all over the world. Their world is like ours, only more magical. The main character in this series is Moirin, who is from Alba, and ends up on the other side of the world using her special abilities that go beyond pleasuring people (though she's pretty good at that, too). Naamah's Kiss I also highly recommend, but read Kushiel first. I know, it will take a while, since they're long, and there's six of them, but trust me, it is worth the time and effort.