Book Review: Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson was a book I recently read a few weeks ago. I’m almost done the second book, so I’d thought I’d do a review of the first book. This book has been around Instagram and social media quite often, which is how it caught my attention and I thought that I would give it a try.

What is the book about?

Kiss of Deception is a fantasy book set in an “olden” days kind of atmosphere. Arabella, nicknamed Lia, is the princess of a kingdom named Morrighan and what’s more, she is the first daughter of the king and queen. In this society, the First Daughter is a big deal. They are the ones with the “gift” and are the pride of the family. Lia, like all the other First Daughter princesses before her, is betrothed to a prince from their neighbouring country Dalbreck. However, seeing as she cannot marry someone she doesn’t even know, flees on the day of her wedding to a small village. But when two men arrive– the prince she was supposed to marry and an assassin sent to kill her– she finds herself falling in love and getting wrapped up in a lot of conflict.

 General Overview (Without Spoilers)

I really enjoyed this book. I love anything fantasy, so that was probably why. But also, I loved how Pearson incorporated tradition, mystery, and suspense into a cleverly weaved book. From the beginning of the book, to the end, she hides the identities of the prince and the assassin, leaving the reader to guess who is who and who Lia is falling in love with. It also leaves the reader guessing whether or not she will be able to survive through this trial as many people are after her from fleeing her wedding day.

On the other hand, there were some things that I felt like it could have been better. This book wasn’t the best I’ve read in fantasy, but I still loved every moment of it. I’d definitely recommend this read to any bookworm as it is very enjoyable. I’d give it a decent rating.

The Whole Review (*With Spoilers*)

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PLOT

The plot was reasonable and I have to admit, it worked. Lia fled her wedding day after stealing an important document from her Chancellor with a wedding Kavah  (a sort of tattoo) on her back. A few pages in and we see that she isn’t a naïve girl, who ran away from home just by a short burst of temper. But instead Lia set up her tracks to mislead anyone who was following her and in one point tried to make it look like she had died. From there we see that she is intelligent and courageous, not like the traditional label of “princess”.

We see this develop further as Lia and her maid Pauline enter into this village called Terravin. Immediately, we see again as Lia doesn’t hesitate to take a role as a maid to survive, completely discarding her royal title.

Then, of course, the two handsome men arrive– the assassin and the prince. And what I really liked about this was that the author didn’t reveal which character was which until the end of the story, so we are left guessing at who is the good guy and who is the “bad” guy. It created much suspense and kept me reading through the book. There were many conflicts as well– which I will get in more detail later on– that provided a lot of depth and meaning to the story.

However, what I didn’t really like about this story was how cliché it was. I’ve read a ton of books and whenever I read historical fiction or a fantasy book, there always seems to be that defiant princess that wants to run away from home. And this story wasn’t any different. It was predictable in a sense that we knew Lia was going to escape and that she wasn’t going to go back to her home until all the conflicts were settled once again. It was also predicable how we knew that she was going to fall in love with either the prince or assassin. Not to mention the fact that there was a prince and assassin– with the cliché “hot and handsome” guys– which provided a love triangle between the three of them. Oh my, the classic love triangle. *sigh* I’ve never been a big fan of those.

There were also many times in the plot that I felt weren’t really necessary or felt lacking in excitement. Lia’s time spent at Terravin was spent well, but I felt that something more exciting could have happened. In Terravin, nothing really happened much except for Lia’s growing romances with Rafe and Kaden, and the small moments of conflict with other people.

Only about three quarters into the book did we see some action happen. When Lia gets captured by the assassin and is planning to be brought to Venda (the assassin’s home to be taken as prisoner– which is actually a good thing since they don’t have any prisoners, they usually just kill their enemies), we begin to see the history of the story and why everything has happened as it did so far. It was a little bit disappointing though since I felt that the kidnapping and all that such could have happened a bit earlier, and all that explanation could have come earlier to hook the readers more. The story just focused too much on the romance between Lia and the two men and didn’t really provide much uniqueness to the story.

I didn’t hate the plot, but I just felt that it could have been better. Obviously, I understand why Mary E. Pearson would have wrote it like that since the characters needed to develop, but I guess I’m more used to adventurous fantasy, which is why I found it really slow.

The ending though was really sweet, when Rafe came to “save” Lia from Kaden, while sacrificing himself in the process. But then again, like I said before, I was cliché and expected.

CHARACTERS

Arabella “Lia”

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Arabella was a decent character, but she wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before. She plays the role of the rebellious princess, not wanting to continue the tradition of her kingdom nor wanting to marry the prince of the next kingdom. And to be honest, I have seen this character so many times before.

I didn’t mind her character; it wasn’t annoying until I couldn’t enjoy the story. But I felt like her character could have developed more. There were only a few aspects of development in her character, but other than that, there was none at all. In the harsh truth, she was really just another character to me. Lia didn’t stand out to me like other characters of books I’ve read. When I think of her, I don’t really see a feature that I could immediately describe her with.

As opposed to other characters, such as Hermione Granger or Katniss Everdeen, which I can describe as very intelligent or determined, Lia doesn’t seem to have that one personality that lit up the whole book. The only thing was probably the Kavah on her shoulder about the Claw and Vine. That was a very interesting part of the book that I’m excited to find out more about it. Her “gift” that is mentioned throughout is also a really concept and I really want to see what the back story to that is.

Rafe

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Prince Rafe of Dalbreck. Handsome, strong, and tall.

To me, Rafe a very interesting character to me. When Lia fled her wedding on their wedding day, instead of being raging mad, he went to go after her. And like Lia, he didn’t fit the title of prince. He wasn’t snooty or conceited, but acted more like a loyal soldier of the army than a prince.

His romance with Lia was very sweet, and I liked the irony of Lia falling in love with him although she had fled their wedding in the beginning.

Furthermore, he wasn’t perfect. But at times, we could see his anger poking up and his selfishness as well. Near the end of the book when Lia wanted to go home to fulfil her duty since her brother’s wife was murdered, he refused to let her go back because he knew how her father would treat her. Instead, he wanted her to go back to Dalbreck with him. This imperfection made him a more realistic character.

Kaden

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Kaden– the deadly assassin from Venda.

His character was also very intriguing. As an assassin, he had the job of killing whoever his “king”, called a Komizar, ordered. We learn that he had killed many people before, yet he would always kill them on the spot, and not a second later. That gave him the feared title and gave him a reputation of deadly.

In this story, Kaden had the job of killing Lia. His country Venda, didn’t want Dalbreck and Morrighan to create an alliance, which would have happened if Lia and Rafe married each other. However, it was interesting because the moment he met her, he didn’t kill her. Given, he was in the middle of a pub when he met her, but I felt that it would have been more realistic if he had attacked her the night he had arrived at Terravin. I understand, the author wanted to keep the suspense and keep him in order to have a plot, but seeing him make excuses in order to stay by Lia’s side was really unrealistic.

But other than that, I loved his personality and character. Despite being an assassin, he was playful and kind. This can be seen when the night he was supposed to kill Lia, he decided not to.

CONFLICT

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The conflicts in the book change as the story goes on. In the beginning, the conflict was Lia vs. her father and his kingdom. And we can see someone even comes and attacks her because she had escaped the castle.

There was also a hefty sum on money on her head, and being a princess out in the open could attract a lot of people that want her killed. This conflict stayed with the book until about three quarters in and we see how Lia adjusts to the common life. And surprisingly, we can see that she fits in perfectly well, like the princess in her never existed.

The conflict changes near the end when the assassin is revealed. Kaden kidnaps her with his men and tie her up. They then proceed to go to Venda. There is a rift starting between Kaden and her, while Lia tries to figure out how she is going to escape. Along the way, she also gets in a sort of fight with Kaden’s men and gets injured.

In my opinion, when Lia gets kidnapped, that was when the story turned for the better and I enjoyed it more because there was the real danger of whether or not Lia was going to survive.

RATING

I give this book a…

3-5-stars

3 and a half stars out of 5!

FINAL OVERALL VIEW

Although I can’t call this book my favourite, I did enjoy reading the book despite the issues I had with it. Mary E. Pearson did an excellent job disguising who the prince and the assassin was and it was a very creative way to go about the book. I loved the plot idea and I really can’t wait to find out more and find the answers to my questions. I will definitely be reading on with this series and I’d recommend this book to anyone who is just looking for a good fantasy story to read.

What do you think? Have you read Kiss of Deception? What did you think of it? 

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