Sometimes I feel like kicking myself for not reading a book sooner. This is exactly what happened with The Kiss of Deception. I’ve had this book for a while and for some reason, I kept putting it off. Although, the advantage is that I’m a wee bit closer to the release date of the sequel (although, the book’s page on Goodreads says nothing more than the year which is 2015, thanks for narrowing it down, makes me feel so much better 0_o)
The Kiss of Deception is about Princess Arabelle — Jezelia aka Lia. She’s a princess from the kingdom of Morrighan. She escapes with her loyal maid-in-waiting and best friend when she can see no other way of getting out of a loveless marriage to a faceless prince from another kingdom. She has a plan that basically entails starting a new life in the small town of Terravin. She and Pauline take up a job and Pauline’s aunt’s inn as a way to pay for their stay. They adapt completely to their new way of life and find happiness in this simple life. Meanwhile, the Prince Lia was supposed to marry is feeling slighted, so he sets out in search for her. He’s not sure what he’ll do once he finds her but sets out anyway, thinking he’ll figure that out when he finds her. Finally, the kingdom of Venda sends an Assassin in search of the Princess to kill her.
The Kiss of Deception reads like two different books, one like historical fiction while the other like fantasy. This isn’t a bad thing because there are hints along the way that there’s more to Lia than what we see. She is professed to have a gift (though she disagrees) but more on that later. Also, the pace gets really slow in the middle but that’s not too bad either because it is meant to communicate to the reader Lia’s own sense of safety in this mundane life. The last part of the book is more or less a journey as Lia is kidnapped and taken to Venda. Journeys can get very dull mostly because they become repetitive and monotonous with the heroine escaping time and again only to get caught every single time. Pearson changes things here a little, in that Lia does try to escape but she’s smarter about it, waiting for the most opportune time to do it. The story involves three points of view though mostly we stay with Lia, the Prince’s and the Assassin’s were fewer but it was welcome because it was nice to get inside their heads for a change. There was almost a love triangle here but thankfully, didn’t last too long. At least in The Kiss of Deception, we know who Lia cares more for and I’m hoping that doesn’t change in the second book because that would be awful.
The characters here are wonderful. Lia is strong willed and stubborn but she doesn’t bow down to pressure and has a mind of her own. She is also brave and not afraid of standing up for what she believes in. What I really enjoyed about her was that once she decided to work at the inn, she worked really hard and didn’t put on any airs. As the First Daughter, she is supposed to have mystical powers but she never manifests them and instead of being bitter about it, she moves on, When she finds out why her powers never manifested, she doesn’t waste time feeling sorry for herself, she starts working on developing them. She was a fun character and I look forward to seeing more of her.
The Prince (I will refrain from naming him and the Assassin though it’s not all that big of a spoiler) I really liked. Sure he had his douche moments but once he committed to how he felt about Lia, he was steadfast. The romance was certainly quick here but I didn’t mind that too much because the characters were likeable besides its not like they were making declarations of undying love. Once Lia was taken, the Prince was dogged in his pursuit of her kidnappers to find and rescue her. Also, he crossed a kingdom in pursuit of her and he went to her when there was no hope of rescuing her which definitely earns him brownie points.
The Assassin is more problematic. He always intended to kill Lia, even when she was being perfectly nice to him. He pretended to be interested in her while the entire time, he had every intention of slitting her throat. Then one fine day he decided that it would be better to take a kingdom with a tyrant for a ruler rather than killing her and by doing this he was doing Lia a favour. I’m sure his pov was meant to make us more sympathetic to his situation but it had the opposite effect on me. After he kidnaps her, he expects her to be grateful that he didn’t kill her and even expects to start a life with him. This guy was delusional!! When you want someone to care for you, it is generally a good idea to not kidnap them and murder their relatives. I’m going to be very disappointed if Lia falls for this spineless idiot in any of the future books. The Prince is far better bet. He was unbelievably annoying. Asswipe!!
One of the best things about Kiss of Deception was the friendship between Lia and Pauline. Once they left the capital, they immediately did away with the formalities and they were just two good friends travelling together. Pauline was loyal and she was strong as well. She was patient and made a good foil for Lia who was quick to fly off the handle. Good female friendships are so rare in YA fiction that I’m always overjoyed when I come across a good example. They picked up each other’s slack. It is a testament to Pauline’s loyalty that she helps Lia escape and accompanies her despite the fact that, if caught, she faces execution. She stays by her side. I hope we see more of her in the next book.
Of the others, Berdi and Gwyneth were fine, they were warm and took in Lia and Pauline and formed a bond between them. Walther, Lia’s brother, made an impression even though we saw so little of him. He was caring about Lia and protective. Of the Assassin’s crew, most of them were no-good louts, but perhaps, there’s more than meets the eye with one or two of them.
The Kiss of Deception took me by surprise. I expected something that would help me pass time and instead it sucked me right into its plot. It is very entertaining, engaging and fast paced, there is enough happening that it will keep you hooked right up till the end and make you look forward to the next book even though it doesn’t end with a cliffhanger.