The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

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.

[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Lia was a hard character for me to read, if I’m honest.  I’m not the type of person that’s overly self-sacrificing, but her decision to run on her wedding day didn’t sit well with me.  It felt incredibly selfish, especially when the livelihoods of two kingdoms and all of their subjects were at risk.  She didn’t even give her marriage a chance to work, but made a pre-emptive strike by running away and putting literally thousands of lives at risk.  I can absolutely understand her motivations, though I certainly don’t agree with them.  Still, Lia was not a bad character and by the end she was at least well-fleshed out enough that I actually found myself enjoying her.

My main problem with The Kiss of Deception is that it’s like a really old table: it sags in the middle.  Don’t get me wrongMary Pearson’s writing really is amazingbut her pacing is somewhat lacking.  Most of the story’s plot centres around the fact that you apparently aren’t sure which of the two boys Lia likes is the assassin and which is the prince.  What really puzzled me was that there seemed to be no ambiguity in her writing so the ‘big reveal’ was somewhat spoiled by the fact I didn’t know there was a mystery to begin with.  It was rather jarring, I’ll admit.

One of the saving graces of the story wasn’t just Lia’s character development, but the aforementioned quality of Pearson’s writing.  It really was awesome and despite the poor pacing I found myself revelling in the world she created.  It was vivid and real with some really beautiful descriptions that you don’t often find in YA fiction.  In my opinion it’s hard to comment on the world-building simply because we haven’t actually seen much of the world yet.  Lia spent most of her time in a small-town tavern, after all.  Still, from what I’ve seen I’m pretty satisfied and it almost makes up for the poor pacing and Lia’s character in the beginning.

So overall?  I’d have to say that The Kiss of Deception is more contradiction than deception but that doesn’t mean the book doesn’t have merit.  The writing got better as the book went along and there was finally something resembling a plot at the end of the book so I think I will end up reading the second book.  However, you do have to have a certain mindset to read this book and not feel repulsed by Lia’s selfishness at the beginning.  It does get better as the book moves along, however.

I give this book 3/5 stars.

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