by Mary Pearson
To be published by Henry Holt
on July 8, 2014
Source: ARC for review from publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.My take: As you may know, I'm not a big fantasy reader, and as such, I'm really picky about the fantasy that I read. I look for fantasy books that have a strong plot line, interesting characters, and a rich, well-developed story world, and this book met all three of those criteria. It also kept me completely absorbed on a flight, and I hate flying.
What did I like about this book?
Lia, the main character
Lia has been betrothed to a stranger to seal an alliance between her kingdom of Morrighan and the neighboring kingdom of Dalbreck. But by the end of the first chapter, she's a runaway bride, fleeing her wedding and her kingdom with nothing but a few belongings and the company of her maid, Pauline. The two of them escape to a small fishing village and start a new life as tavern maids. Lia was a fantastic character -- brave and rebellious and resourceful, willing to do whatever it takes to secure her freedom.
Just as in another of my fantasy favorites, the Grisha trilogy, there's more than one compelling guy. The story is told in alternating first person point of view, alternating between Lia, the prince (Lia's fiance who was left at the altar) and the assassin. So, one guy wants to capture her and bring her back, the other wants to kill her, and as you read you're not sure which is which. I had my theory (which turned out to be right) but the book did keep me guessing.
Note: There has been some disagreement among other early readers as to whether this situation feels like a love triangle. I'll admit, the romantic part of the story did seem to drift in that direction, as Lia befriends both guys, and worse, both guys seem to have a thing for her. If that is the way you define a love triangle, then, yes, there is one. But I don't think this installment feels super triangle-y in the classic YA sense, and I don't really see Lia as the kind of girl who'd go all moony over two guys, and I hope I'm right about that. If you've read this, give me your take on the triangle situation in comments...
The intrigue and deception
As the title indicates, this book is all about deception. Lia is pretending to be a tavern maid, and both the prince and the assassin are pretending to be people they aren't. All this makes for an interesting plot. There's also political intrigue, and some magical elements that I'm sure will be more developed in future books.
Not only am I picky about fantasy, I've become pretty picky about YA trilogies as a whole. I now see first books in trilogies as blind dates -- I'll read the book and then decide if I want to continue to pursue a long-term relationship with the story. Kiss of Deception has definitely won me over and I look forward to reading the next installment. Whether you're a diehard fantasy fan or, like me, not all that into elves and goblins, I definitely recommend giving this one a try!