Friday, May 9, 2014

Early Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception
by Mary E. Pearson
Read: April 6 - 19, 2014
Published: July 15, 2014 by Henry Holt **UPCOMING**
Source: Macmillan (Thank you!)
Category: Fantasy, kingdoms, runaway princess 

Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

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 assasin 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.


This review goes out to all the love triangle dislikers out there. 
Because I’m trying to avoid love triangles at all cost these days, especially in series, I asked several early readers whether The Kiss of Deception had one or not. The answers weren’t straightforward, which worried me. Several people told me NO there is not a triangle in this book, but others told me there was one, or there eventually could be one, which is just as scary for me. I’m a big fan of fantasy, and I loved the premise of this story (minus the triad), so decided to read it and find out for myself. Then break down my assessment for you. 

Story set-up
On the morning of her wedding to a man she's never met, Princess Lia runs away instead of going through with the prearranged marriage. The only daughter in her family, Lia grew up playing and exploring with her brothers, but her life has been increasingly controlled by duty and tradition in recent years. Lia feels that the only way she can get control of her life is by leaving for good.  

Lia escapes with her ladies maid Paulina and together they travel to a quiet seaside town to begin their new lives. Lia is thrilled to be free from the obligations and responsibilities she has never wanted nor cared about. But soon after Lia arrives in Teravina, two mysterious and handsome strangers show up as well. Lia doesn't realize that one is the prince she left behind, and the other is an assassin sent to kill her. Deception, love and betrayal will occur and each of them will change the lives of the others. 

Does this book have a love triangle?
No, it does not…but. It’s that but where things get sticky. Basically everything about this book is set up to make you think there will be a love triangle. Lia meets Rafe and Kaden at the same time. She finds them both attractive, and muses on this fact quite frequently. Pretty much the entire time they're in the town of Teravina, she's thinking about them, and they're thinking about her. We also get all three of their perspectives throughout the course of this story. Anticipation wise, I was convinced a triangle was looming on the horizon, and it definitely affected my enjoyment of the story, at least in the first half.

However, even though this book appears like its purpose is to introduce a love triangle, one never materializes. Lia picks a favorite boy pretty much immediately and sticks to that person throughout this story. I actually have always been one to pick my favorite guy (in real life and books), so the fact that she singles one out immediately, did not bother me - it made things easier, honestly. However, I did think their romance started very quickly. To me, instant-attraction doesn't rule out the emotional steps of building a relationship, and I wanted a little more from them. Also, I was distracted by the other guy floating around, and worried about a potential triangle, which made it hard for me to focus on these two as much as I would have liked.

A lot more is happening than a romance. 
As mentioned, I struggled with the section of this story that takes place in Teravina. Lia, Rafe and Kaden are all stuck there together with nothing much happening besides a berry festival. However, I will say that there's a point to this part of the book besides creating a love triangle, so I'd encourage you to stick through it and try not to stress as much as I did. Eventually, something big happens and the story switches directions in an exciting way. Even though that section makes more sense in hindsight, I wish it had been written a little differently to take the focus off the relationships.

What I enjoyed
I love the political atmosphere in this world, especially as it relates to the three main characters. I think it's going to be exciting to explore that going forward. The very beginning and second half were the strongest sections for me. Lia impressed me a lot in the latter half of the book. There are a few scenes where her strength shines, and I cannot wait for more of that fierce girl to come in the future. We also meet several secondaries besides the three I've talked about, that I'm eager to see again. Finally, this book ends explosively with some events and revelations that made me definitely want to pick up the next book (assuming not triangle revives). 

Looking ahead
Actually the end of this story makes it seem less likely that any romantic waffling will happen in the future. But I've stopped trusting my instincts when it comes to those things. We still know so little about this world, it's history, countries, magic,  or even many of these characters, when the book ends. Although those are the details that I'm most excited about. I wish that the focus of the first book had been a little more on those themes, but I'm hopeful that the next book will flesh out the hints that we got. I also want a map in the next book!

Love Triangle Factor: None/Mild
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium

PS. I was initially very worried about that cover, because it seems like the girl in the center is looking back between two guys. But the author informed me that one of the characters in the background is a girl. So it's not a Rafe and Kaden. 


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  2. It might have been more interesting had the girl been waffling between a guy and a girl in her love triangle instead of two guys. But anyway, I'm really glad you broke this down for us, Lauren, as I'm feeling better about picking it up. I'm still not convinced about the love triangle 100% -- and won't be until the sequel is out! -- but I love political set-ups in fantasy realms and this seems to be right up my alley regarding that. Thanks for such a detailed, helpful review, Lauren! :)

  3. Politics are kind of my favorite in fantasy.

    ALSO, the love triangle lack, or at least the fact that it does not pervade the book appeals to me. I'm glad this is on my list of books to read before BEA.

    ALSO THAT WORLD SOUNDS AWESOME and apparently I am talking all in caps this morning.

  4. "Romantic waffling" *snort* SO ANNOYING when they do that! Yeah, I've lost any confidence in my ability to predict triangles and get nervous when there are three people (come on. Not everything has to be romance-based!). I like that there's a lot more going on than just the romance in this one. Woot for fantasy!

  5. Great review sweetie. <3 I am a little upset that you liked this book more than me, lol :D I didn't like it much :p I wanted to, but no. Not for me. Agh. I had more issues with the romance, lol. But I understand why you liked some of it :) Thank you for sharing. <3 I'm just hoping there will be no triangle shit in the second one. Agh. But I doubt I will get my wish.. sigh.

  6. Wonderful review, Lauren! If I do pick this up I don't need to worry about the love triangle surfacing so that should take out some of the stress in reading, thanks to you, lol! That is a gorgeous cover! :)

  7. YAY! I'm glad you enjoyed this one for the most part Lauren! I was one of the people that told you there was no real triangle I think, so I'm happy that despite all your worrying, you felt it wasn't a true triangle either. The potential is there for sure, but like you said, she made a decision early on and stuck with it, even when things shifted and the second guy became a bigger part of the story. I agree with you too on Teravina, that section of the story was definitely a bit slower, but once she left? LOVED:)

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  9. Thank you for this review, Lauren. I've been worried sick about the love triangle in this book, but I've wanted to read this one since a long time now because I enjoy YA fantasy. I'm glad to hear that although it seems at first glance that there might be a love triangle, it doesn't really materialize. I can see why you weren't fully invested in the romance though. I would be too with the other guy lurking around and the speed at which the romance developed.
    You make the politics sound absolutely fascinating though and I can say that I'm looking forward to it.
    Lovely review, Lauren!

  10. I'm really excited to read Kiss of Deception now! Your review definitely gave me a clear picture of what to expect with this novel, and I think it'll be something I truly enjoy. I'm glad that the love triangle (ish) vibe didn't become too much of a deterrent, though I can understand the fact that it kind of feels like it's a ghost haunting you as you read since the set-up is there.

  11. Interesting. I almost feel like these almost-triangles are worse for the very reasons you're articulating here - they make us constantly on edge, anticipating something happening. And that's too bad the worldbuilding doesn't feel sufficiently developed in this first book. I've been feeling kind of "meh" about reading this one, and I'm still not sure I will. I mean, you know fantasy's my favorite genre so I could change my mind. But this may be one where I wait for the sequel to release and see how that one is received.

  12. I'm very happy you broke this down for us! I do feel better going in now... but I have to admit that I'm still very nervous. Maybe there won't be a true triangle, but I'm worried about her internal thoughts being so focused on both guys and what they look like. That can be annoying. And the anticipation that something may or may not happen in regards to the triangle can be just as stressful as having one. It makes me want to race to the end to ensure one won't develop, which of course takes away from the whole reading experience.
    So, I'm more optimistic, but still cautious.
    Thanks for your review, sugar!

  13. i actually just finished this book this morning Lauren!
    I have to admit i was completely perpelexed about who was who between the boys and stayed up all night trying to decipher it. I liked the mystery behind it but also the mysterious elements in the politics and magic.
    Lia was a really strong and independent MC and i loved her for it. i completely admired her strength and can't wait to see what happens in book two...i mean that whoa! Haha! great review Lauren :)

  14. I absolutely loved this book. So. Many. Feels. My emotions were all over the place. I thought the author did a fantastic job of presenting the male main characters, that you didn't know who was who. That was genius, I thought. I loved the female friendship, and I agree, the synopsis makes it sound like there's a love triangle, but there really isn't. From the very beginning, she's drawn to one guy. And that ending…it killed me, I have to say. I need to the next book now! Glad you enjoyed this one too! ~Pam

  15. I really love how upfront and honest your review is - I know so many people are dying to read this one, and while I'm curious I'm still a bit hesitant. But I think your review has convinced me that I should read Kiss of Deception when it comes out! I really love fantasy as well, and I'm glad the romance isn't over the top ridiculous.

    Brenna from Esther's Ever After

  16. OMG - I'm so much like you when reading. I worry the entire time about a love triangle and it ruins the experience for me.

    Can you read every book first for me?? lol

    I actually have this one for review but haven't read it because the summary made it seem like there was a love triangle.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth


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