The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: July 2014
Synopsis: 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.
Review: I went in prepared for this book. Based on the description, I knew there was a love triangle. Without a doubt in my mind. Even prepared, I still could not like this book. But let me say, I also did not hate this book. I did not wished for any character deaths. I was just disappointed because I hoped and my hopes were never met. Let me talk about the book in general first then we can talk about the love triangle.
The setting and plot did pull me in. By plot, I do not mean the romance. I meant the political affairs and deceptions each and every one of the characters went through. All of that was interesting, hence I kept reading along. I am a plot person and a character person. I can do great character depth and decent/okay plot or great complex plots with decent/okay character development. This one falters in both respects and interesting enough there is the presence of great depth in character and plot. The plot through the snippets of reveals – of the lengths of deceptions our protagonist, Lia, goes through – to the warring of the kingdoms… was complex. There were layers. Then what was wrong? The romance took foothold of this great and interesting story, and pushed everything to the back. EVERYTHING. So what we have here is 70% romance – a love triangle too, at that – and 30% of glimpses and snippets of decent plot and character. Which makes the interesting parts sub-plots. Sad face.
Lia was refreshing. Typically, in cases of love triangle stories, we have girls who makes very very very very (I can’t reiterate enough) VERY stupid – sometimes even moronic – decisions… all because of LUUUUUUURVE. Lia was not those girls. Mostly. She knew what she was doing and she never pretends or hides the fact of her decisions from herself. For the most part. Like 95% of the time. She’s stubborn and unapologetic to “bad peoples” – save for love interests, hence I sighed and rolled my eyes. Yes, you’re right, if you guessed she makes dumb mistakes with the love interests. Most are forgiving… though near the end, my heart began to race a little… no not from swooning, but from “Are you [censored] kidding me? What is wrong with you, girl? Giiiiiiiiirl, don’t make me come into the book and knock some sense into you. Several times.” You are a prisoner. And you want to seriously blush and kiss the guy who is keeping you prisoner? Let me go pick out the tree in the woods for your special club. You can use the club on the guy after I’m done. (<Annoyed sarcastic dark humor – do not take seriously).
When the book ends, I’m left with very very very high suspicions of the love triangle’s future. And I do not like it and I am almost never wrong when it involves guessing love triangle’s future.
Then there are these issues: multiple POVs. Nope, I could not buy them. Except for Lia. Kaden and Raffe sounded the same and their muses and study of Lia always came to same conclusions… essentially making them the same person mentally, which made no sense since they are both from very different backgrounds… but of course, there MUST be a love triangle. Also, I could not tell who was who at all. At the beginning of each chapter we get subtitles denoting whose POV we are about to enter into. Sometimes they are Raffe or Kaden. Other times they are Prince or Assassin. And it’s hard to guess which name belonged to which title until much later in the book. Very hard. (Unless I missed something…. which please do tell and correct me and point me to the chapter). This bothered me because this was a tool to keep up suspense. To analytical readers like me this is a cheap and boring method of suspense. To more casual and less “literary” readers, this makes the book so suspenseful. When both males sound the same and make the same thoughts about everything… it’s not suspenseful but confusing. Though some people may think their confusion is suspense. Sad face. If you can’t keep the suspense and interest high without the reader knowing who said what… rewrites should be in order. With what was here in the novel, I’m surprised this method was used. Disappointing.
Then there’s this. Why did our assassin – who has killed countless nobles, people, creatures -want to spare Lia? He had plenty of opportunities and the skills (since he could sneak into her room and put a knife to her throat once without Lia ever knowing… he could do it many times before and get the deed done before he had any “feelings”)… Oh right, love triangle. I could not stretch my belief to except Lia’s exception to death from the assassin’s hand. I’m not saying assassin’s can’t have a change of heart… they can, but not from love at first sight they can’t. There were attempts to remedy this, but not strong enough. I would have believed it if the assassin’s attempt was foiled and some crutch happens because of the foiled attempt… but assassins do not have a change of heart when they have no doubt killed so many times before and of the same type (in this book’s case, it inferred the assassin has killed countless nobles).
Lia, though, does recognize the dangers of the assassin and most times accesses correctly. Like “He’s dangerous – in the I should get the hell away way sense.” “Not a chance in hell.” “I’m am not your whore.” I’m glad these types of thoughts (I paraphrased them) were inserted to attempt to counter balance the “boy treats girl like manure but girl still finds boy hot and irresistible.” But in the end, … ugh.
So there you have it. If you are looking for a high fantasy or fantasy novel, I will suggest looking else where. If you are looking for fantasy-lite with romance – and lots of it. This is PERFECT for you. It’s got hot guys, two guys fawning over one girl, and just a smidgen touch of magic and war.
(Picture is hyper-linked to their Goodreads’ page.)
Why the Recommendation: Like The Kiss of Deception, Falling Kingdoms is somewhat about kingdoms fighting for power and land. Though the romance in this series is tamed downed. The pacing is fairly fast and linear.
Why the Recommendation: There are no damsels in distress here in these two books. Well, I that’s not quite true – but both starts out with non typical damsels in distress female character in fantasy. Each girl also has a unique ability of their own where the fate of kingdoms rests in their hands.
Why the Recommendation: This is also another princess book where kingdoms rests in the young ladies’ hands. Both are married off – one to a king and another to a heir prince. Both have the power to shape their worlds.
Why the Recommendation: Both girls in these novels are usually quick witted and rely mostly on their own strengths. Poison is a more lighthearted approach but still a fun great read.