The Traitor's Kiss
by Erin Beaty
Read: February 12 - 14, 2017
Published: May 9, 2017 by Imprint
Source: Galley from Macmillan (TY!)
Tags: Fantasy, Young Adult, Spies, Matchmakers
Series: Traitor's Trilogy #1
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository | Indiebound
An obstinate girl who will not be married.
A soldier desperate to prove himself.
A kingdom on the brink of war.
With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.
As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.
I came out very mixed on this one. I was hoping for a new fantasy series I would love as much as The Winner's Curse, and The Traitor's Kiss just didn't get close to that for me. But I did enjoy some aspects of this.
What I liked:
1) I liked both Sage and her love interest right away:
Raised by her father and now her aunt and uncle, Sage loves teaching and doesn't fit into the role of a 'lady.' When her uncle tries to set up a marriage match for her with the local matchmaker, things don't go well and Sage ends up apprenticed to her instead. It's a much better role. I love that this girl is clever and sharp and has brains galore. She pays attention and is great at making mental connections that others's don't see. But Sage doesn't give herself enough credit and she's actually very charming when she wants to be.
A is a soldier who wants to prove himself after a recent error. He is sent with a troop of soldiers as an escort for a group ladies headed to the capital who will be married off for political alliances. But there is an uprising brewing and he and his troops soon learn their task is much more complicated than merely watching young ladies on a long journey. Cue the spying and deception and intrigue. As this story is told in multiple third person POVs we get to see what is happening with all the different players as they work to out wit and stay on top of each other's plans. It definitely made for an intense last quarter of the book.
2) Sage and A have fantastic chemistry, and several very swoony scenes. I loved all of their interactions with each other.
1) I don't understand this title in relation to the book. (There is kissing, and, yes, secrecy and deception, but I'm not sure what "traitor" means?)
2) I wish Sage had spent some more time with the women in this book, building friendships. Hopefully, we'll see more of that in the next one. I'm not a fan of the 'mean' girl stuff and except for Lady Clare, whom I liked (tho even their relationship was pushed to the side), all the other girls come across as a one dimensional group.
3) The beginning was clever in its set up - it's similar to The Kiss of Deception, in that the narrative is a bit obscured - and later it is explained why it was done this way. But I did find it to be a bit confusing and frustrating at the time.
4) A lot of A words - Alex, Ash, Asteyln, the place Alex is from
5) I would never compare this to Mulan. I don't know where that came from, except that this does feature a matchmaker. I haven't seen it in any of the official publicity or marketing, unless it's been removed. For me, that comparison never factored (because I heard it only after reading and not officially). However, looking back I can definitely see the inclusion of the "dark skinned aggressor" trope here, and understand how unconsciously it's often done in stories.
The farther I go from when I read this book, the less I'm enthralled by the story. I liked the romantic aspects, but a lot of the other characters were one dimensional, and I don't think the narrative setup worked as well here as it did in The Kiss of Deception. However, I'd be willing to investigate the second in this series when it's released.
Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Low. Ends solidly (but with a separation to come). This is the first of a trilogy. I love Sage and A's connection! But for the beginning of a trilogy, it makes me very nervous. This is more my own trust issues, but hoping the series stays completely love triangle free.