The Kiss of Deception – Mary E. Pearson

DeceptionFrom Goodreads.com: 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.

Published: July 2014

Why I Chose It: I saw this on Goodreads and I was incredibly curious about a woman who runs away from her own wedding.

The Review:

First and foremost, I really enjoyed the setting for this book. There are several kingdoms at play who don’t necessarily get along, and Lia’s wedding to the Prince of Dalbreck is meant to solidify relations between Dalbreck and Lia’s own Kingdom of Morrighan. The further I read in the novel the more politics I was made aware of, and I really enjoyed the pieces of information I got. There’s a much larger story going on than just Lia’s wedding, and I really appreciated that. It definitely gave the sense of a large, established world, and I could greatly appreciate that Lia and Lia’s kingdom wasn’t the center of it.

Unfortunately there were a few strategic decisions made for the story that I didn’t like. For example, I enjoyed starting with the wedding that never happened, but when Lia runs away, the journey she takes is kind of glossed over, and there’s awkward time patches missing from the story line as she gets settled into her new village. The story then slows down incredibly to describe each and every day. I wonder if it might have been better to start with Lia the maid and have her reminisce about the wedding escape later on to avoid the awkward pacing issues. I unfortunately just wasn’t comfortable with the way time is dealt with in the story.

Another strategy I strongly disliked was the decision to not tell the reader which man was the Prince and which man the Assassin. There were chapters from the perspectives of both the Assassin and the Prince, and  their aliases Rafe and Kaden, without revealing who was the Prince and who the Assassin. I for one had a lot of difficulties reading their chapters, because not only was I trying to keep Rafe and Kaden separate in my head, I also had to keep the Prince and Assassin. Suddenly I had four characters to keep track of, not two.

I found this part of the novel incredibly tedious to read. As far as I could tell there was only going to be two outcomes: that the reader would get attached to the Prince, Lia would make the discovery and it’s happily ever after; or, the reader would get attached to the assassin, Lia finds out, and then boohoo as Lia tries to patch her life back together. I didn’t see how the outcome to the situation was worth the effort it took to conceal their identities. The moment I found out who each man was I went back to the beginning of the book to skim through the chapters in order to straighten out their characters in my mind. I realize that some people may really enjoy the mystery behind this strategy, but I personally found it incredibly tedious and unnecessary.

Deception3

The one thing I absolutely loved about this story was Lia and the development of her character. At the beginning of the book, I actually disliked her. Despite the strength it took for her to run from her wedding, I found her incredibly naive. She runs to a village that’s only 8 days ride from the capital, and happens to be the childhood home of her maid, and yet she somehow thinks she’ll never be found. Then when not one but two strange men show up and give her particular interest, there’s not a single moment where she wonders why. She’s so ready for her fairy tale love story that she shows absolutely no sense of concern or caution about these men. I just wanted to shake her. That being said, throughout the second half of the novel, Lia goes through a lot. There’s some good stuff and there is some really dark stuff, and I was shocked at the impression it made on her character. She becomes incredibly strong and courageous and I fell in love with her. I almost couldn’t believe it was the same character, and yet I could, because I watched her go through this journey. Hands down, Lia’s character development was the strongest aspect of this story.

There was a lot that happened in this book. There were several things I didn’t like about the novel, especially the love triangle and the deception over who was the Prince and who was the Assassin. But I can’t deny the amazing character growth in Lia, nor the really interesting politics between the different kingdoms. It’s probably Lia’s character alone that will push me to read the next novel, as I’m really curious to know what will happen to her.

Overall Rating: 3 / 5

Character Growth: 5 / 5
Characters: 4 / 5
Love Story: 2 / 5
Creative Strategies: 2 / 5

Quotations:

“For good or bad, the hours were closing in. I closed my eyes against the thought, knowing that soon the day would cleave in two, forever creating the before and after of my life, and it would happen in one swift act that I could no more alter than the color of my eyes.” p 3

“They weren’t likely to recognize me either, especially in my new role here, not to mention the tavern attire that Berdi had given us to wear when serving. Most of my hair was neatly tucked into my lace cap, and a princess wearing a drab brown skirt and apron didn’t look like a princess at all.” p 73

“The newcomers had my rapt attention. They stood out from the usual customers who stepped through Berdi’s doors, both in stature and demeanor. They struck me as neither fisherman nor trader. My gut told me they had other business here.” p 76

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