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.
4.5 stars, rounded to 5.
If you read my list ‘Ten Books I WILL Read This Year’, you’d have noticed that‘The Kiss of Deception’ was one of that list. I have owned the book for a while, and I was desperate to read it when I first got my hands on it given how much others seemed to enjoy it, but for some inexplicable reason I just never got around to doing so. Now, I have finally completed the novel, and I am glad to say that I really did enjoy it, and I hope to continue further with this trilogy.
I was definitely in need of a light fantasy before picking this up. That is the first point to make: despite being a fantasy novel, this one is not very heavy on the fantasy elements, rather being an almost-typical YA romance set against a fantasy backdrop. Normally, that kind of book is either a massive hit or a monumental miss where I am concerned, depending on my mood.
This time around, it was just what I wanted. The dramatic snippet on the back of my dust-jacket, wherein the protagonist, Lia, is held at knife-point, is a tad misleading as to the tone of the vast majority of the novel: that scene is the only true action scene in the first two-thirds of the novel. The action does pick up later on, but the majority of this book is world-building and establishing characters and relations for the rest of the trilogy. I anticipate the fantasy elements coming to the forefront in the rest of the trilogy, however this book does have a much lighter tone than I first expected.
Our protagonist is Lia, a princess on the run to avoid an arranged marriage to the prince of a neighbouring region whom she has never met. As a character, Lia is bearable, in fact even decent. She has a certain charm to her; her attitude, whilst at times a touch gobby, tends to come across as more amusing than insufferable, whilst her bravery is an admirable feature.
She is, of course, fickle when it comes to romance, but no more than the majority of female YA protagonists. She makes a believable 17-year-old when alongside her best friend Pauline, especially at the beginning as the pair flee from their home of Civica. Talking of Pauline, she is a very sweet character. I’m looking forwards to her progression in later books. In fact, all the female characters, including the minor characters of Berdi and Gwyneth, were good characters, as were most of the male ones.
That brings us to our prince and our assassin (in no particular order,) Kaden and Rafe. Keeping it brief for the sake of being spoiler-free…I thought both were very well characterised, even if I did not strictly like them both. When it came to guessing who was the prince and who was the assassin, there are both clues and red herrings that kept me slightly uncertain even when I thought I knew (I ultimately didn’t!).
Touching lightly on the romance, there is (obviously) a love triangle in this novel, however I will say that it is never a truly even playing field between the two; it is less ‘who will she choose?’ and more ‘will she get the opportunity to be with the one she prefers?’ and I do not see the love triangle sincerely continuing throughout the rest of the trilogy.
I enjoy the changing perspectives a lot. Written in first person, the majority of chapters are from Lia’s point of view, however there were many times we slipped into the perspective of Rafe or Kaden, which helped speed up the pace and gave a welcome break from Lia’s view; I love it when first-person novels have multiple perspectives, as I enjoy seeing the world through different eyes.
The chapters headed purely ‘The Assassin’ and ‘The Prince’ were fun, as I was forever trying to match their tones with that of Kaden and Rafe, with little success. There was a late chapter from Pauline’s point of view which was intriguing, and I would love to see more from her in the next novel, and perhaps from Gwyneth too.
The plot is not necessarily slow, but it is laid-back. There is the sense that the first 300 pages of the novel are character-led rather than plot-led. However, there was enough of a plot to interest me throughout. In fact, it was only towards the end, at which point the novel had shifted to be plot-led, that I thought it began to slack. While the concept and certain other elements are not unique, Pearson does execute them well, and as you know if you’ve read my reviews for a while, I would much rather see a cookie-cutter idea done well than an original idea executed poorly.
Guest review contributed by Em Does Book Reviews. If you sometimes like “bite-size” book reviews, this blog has them, along with an indie corner, TV reviews, and film reviews.