A princess must find her place in a reborn world.
She flees on her wedding day.
She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.
She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.
She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.
The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.
Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.
Kindle Edition, 492 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by Henry Holt
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Three Stars: A good fantasy novel with excellent world building but marred by love triangle.
Lia awakens and greets the new day. She realizes that today she stands on the threshold as she prepares to leave the life she has known by entering into an arranged marriage. Lia endures the traditional marking ceremony, but then right before the wedding, she does the unthinkable and flees. Accompanying her is her maid and close friend, Pauline. Far across the kingdom, Pauline and Lia settle into a small fishing village. Lia starts working as a bar maid, and she loves every minute of her new life. She even dares to flirt with two handsome strangers in the tavern, not knowing that one is an assassin while the other is her betrothed. Deception and treachery swirl around the unknowing Lia. Will she be forced to return home and marry?
What I Liked:
- I was surprised at how quickly I was sucked into this fantasy world. Ms. Pearson does an excellent job with her world building, and her story telling is solid and entertaining. She even goes so far as to write songs and stories from a civilization long ago that are sprinkled throughout the book.
- At the heart of the story is Princess Jezelia. She is a first daughter supposedly blessed with magical powers, but unfortunately for Lia, her powers have not manifested. The story starts on the morning of Lia's wedding day. She is angry that she is being forced into an arranged marriage while everyone else she knows is allowed to marry according to their heart. At the last moment, Lia flees and heads to a new life. Once settled in a remote fishing village, Lia thrives in her new life. She works as a tavern maid and she throws herself into it wholeheartedly. Lia is a character who is complex, likable and frustrating. On one hand, I admired her courage and stubbornness, and I liked that she was willing to jump into her new life with no complaints. A princess working as a maid and loving it, who would have thought? On the other hand, she is outspoken to the point where it gets her into trouble time and time again. She is headstrong, immature and impetuous, and sometimes she behaves like a spoiled brat. However, as the story progresses, she grows and changes and becomes more endearing as she realizes the effects of her actions and endeavors to do the right thing. I ended up enjoying this tough Princess, and I admired her courage.
- The Prince is a surprise as well. Left embarrassed at the altar, he decides to track down the wayward princess, unsure as to what he will do when he finds her. You think he has no backbone because he allowed his father to betroth him to a girl he has never met or seen on the promise that if he marries her he can take a mistress... say what? However, he actually isn't spineless. Instead of growing up a pretty boy he serves in his father's army. He refuses to receive special treatment and he trains hard and takes his knocks. When he tracks down Lia, he introduces himself as a farm boy. I liked that he was tough and unspoiled, and that he continued to surprise me at every turn.
- There is a lot going on this story. You have Princess Lia running from her marriage, the fallout, impending war in the kingdom, secrets and deception, strange prophecies and powers from the mysterious ancients, treachery, kidnapping and more. I liked all the story arcs and found that despite some of the flaws, I was entertained by the story. If you like a good fantasy and you can stomach a love triangle, this is a good book to pick up.
And The Not So Much:
- The biggest disappointment was the romance. A love triangle develops, though it isn't completely formed. Lia doesn't fully develop romantic feelings for the second suitor, but there are hints of an attraction. The romance comes out of nowhere. I felt like it was thrown in there for the sake of having a romance. I would have liked this book so much better if the romance was either better developed or left out. I thought it was doing great while the couple formed a friendship, and then all of sudden Lia has romantic feelings. They didn't seem genuine. The love triangle rears its ugly head as there are two suitors vying for Lia's heart. I never felt like the second suitor was more than a friend, and then he does something that you would think would shun Lia, but then she actually kisses him after all his bad deeds. Are you kidding me? The other problem is that the romance is based on deception as Lia doesn't realize that Rafe is really her betrothed. How is she going to feel when she finds out the truth?
- The reluctant assassin is a character that I didn't like at all. First, he was supposed to kill Lia, that is his first strike, but instead of doing so, he spends weeks in the village watching her and falling in love with her. While some might find this romantic, I didn't like it all. Either be an assassin or get out of town.
- I felt like the last portion of the book dragged and I lost interest. I kept expecting some type of big development. Then it got interesting again when Lia and her travel companions encounter a traveling caravan of gypsy women. There is an older women there brimming with secrets and knowledge and I was hoping for her to take Lia under her wing and counsel her about her magical abilities. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen to the extent I would have liked. I wanted to know so much more about these magical abilities.
- The book ends with an annoying cliffhanger, just when I was expecting big revelations and answers. It was frustrating and irritating. I am so done with cliffhangers these days.
The Kiss of Deception is an entertaining fantasy novel with all the elements you love in a good fantasy. It has solid world building, interesting characters and an engaging story line. The drawbacks are an annoying love triangle, weak romance and a frustrating cliffhanger. Still I liked this one enough that I will likely continue the series.
"I wondered what it would be like to have someone who knew me so well, someone who would look right into my soul, someone whose very touch sent all other thoughts from my mind. I tried to imagine someone who hungered for the same things I did and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, and not because it fulfilled a loveless agreement on paper."
"It's half-assed! Sven shouted as I slid my foot into the stirrup. "I know," I said. "That's why I'm counting on you to figure out the other half."
"Sometimes we're all pushed to do things we thought we could never do."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.