In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.
In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.
On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.
Right off the bat, The Kiss of Deception had wonderful beginning chapters with fluid writing and world-of-story that blew me out of the water. It was great reading Mary E. Pearson again since the last thing that I had read by her was the Fox Chronicles and it had been maybe a year ago since I read anything by her. And let me say that I am a big fan of the Jenna Fox books. So I had extremely high hopes when I started Kiss of Deception because it had three things going for it: 1. It was written by Mary Pearson, 2. High fantasy for the win, and 3. A well crafted, spunky, main female protagonist.
So then why am I giving it two star rating, you ask? Because love triangles, ladies and gentlemen. Love triangles and the internal battle that I was having with Lia halfway through the novel.
The Kiss of Deception right off the bat welcomed me into so much. Beautiful and strong writing. A wonderfully and enchanting new high fantasy young adult novel while I trudge through the lengthy A Song of Fire and Ice novels, and while I wait for the third installment to Sarah J. Maas’s YAL Throne of Glass series. So KoD’s description and opening chapters helped fit it into that hole I needed filling. Hey, even when the prince was introduced, I completely loved his character, the flame that burned in him from the get-go really caught me off guard and had won me over from the very beginning.
And then the love triangle starts to come into play about a third into the novel, and I can hear my co-blogger, who is also reading this novel at the same time, going “I told you so.” She happened to be the one that warned me about the deadly triangle before I even started reading the novel, but I decided to cast away from reluctance and dive in, because, you know, M.E. Pearson. Unfortunately, even M.E. Pearson couldn’t hold back on the love triangle plot device and made it much more than what I wanted to shine in the novel, you know, the actual plot that happened to revert into sub-plot because of all the romance and the “true love” aspect. You know, because that was why Lia ran away in the first place, to get out of an arranged marriage to a prince she’d never even met. Understandable, but the theme of love did not need to over shroud the key elements in the book that were what pushed the plot along like: the “gift” of the First Daughter, the Songs of Venda, the whole conflict between the kingdoms and the barbarians, the book that Lia stole. A lot goes unsaid, or starts to be explained, becomes overshadowed by long romantic kissing scenes or Lia lost in through about love, or the side characters cheering Lia on from the sidelines to go and get the guy. It becomes more about love than about the world-of-story after a while, and Pearson does what she can to incorporate the things that I mentioned about that I was waiting to learn more about, but her bogging down of the story’s sub-plots with the main romantic plot completely had me detesting the entire middle of the novel and even through to the very end.
There came a point where there was a nice twist that M.E. Pearson pulls on the reader, and if you’re not paying attention while reading, it could snag you as well. But, I also wonder, is it really a twist, or is it poor characterization. And that, I guess is for other readers to decide, because unless I go back and re-read–which is unlikely–I cannot tell if its the first or the latter. But I did find it to be a very clever trick, making me do a double take once I got to it in the novel.
There was one other point that I wanted to talk about, and that is Lia’s characterization. In the beginning Lia has so much potential. She’s not a stereotypical pampered princess as most people make her out to believe. She’s got spunk, a bite to go with her bark, she does show some signs of weakness afterword and that just adds to her realistic qualities, and she is a good friend to Pauline. But, and yes there is a but, the further the story advances the more Lia becomes absorbed in her false reality that she develops this complex and becomes unaware of what is really going on around her. And ultimately that leads to Lia becoming really incompetent. I mean, when your friend tells you that there could potentially be an assassin looking to kill you, Lia, you do not shrug it off as just a rumor. Especially not after you had just been attacked by another assassin not that long ago! I mean, come on! Where is the character development!?
Final Summation: I would have loved to really have gotten into The Kiss of Deception, but too many intrusions within the story itself had me lacking in enjoyment. There were scenes that I particularly enjoyed and read hungrily, and then there was just too much love triangle between the Lia, the prince, and the assassin throughout the entire novel, no rest at all, and barely enough pages left in this incredibly long novel (almost 500 pages, might I add) for the sub-plots to really have their time to shine and for my questions to finally be answered. So now I have to wait for the second novel, if I even have the stomach for more of this love triangle. We will see, maybe Pearson’s writing will pull me through the next novel as it had the read of The Kiss of Deception, or maybe the ending of the first book finally crafted Lia into a character that I will be able to read after all that she’s been through traumatically.