Publishing Info: July 15, 2014 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 22, 2014
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In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.
I started THE KISS OF DECEPTION immediately after I saw Jaime from Fic Fare‘s exciting updates on Instagram and Twitter! I was deep into a fantasy streak and was SO excited to get to this amazing first book in a new series.
THE KISS OF DECEPTION hits the ground running and I was already ready to fist pump for Lia after the first chapter. Basically the story is this: It’s Lia’s wedding day and she’s less than thrilled about her arranged marriage. She’s gone through all of the stages, every step of planning, and it’s her last chance to back out before it’s too late. It’s now or never and although Lia has a bit of a feisty streak, she has always stood by her family and their decisions… Until they took this very big decision out of her hands. Immediately the book was thrilling, action-packed, and had me rooting for a heroine I had only just met! I started off the book with high hopes and promises of adventure. I was excited for the Unfortunately, I felt like the book hit a pretty quick slump for me.
I’m not exactly sure where the I expected the story to go, but I think I was hoping for more of a journey and a sort of epic adventure. From after the first couple chapters until about halfway through the book, the story felt very stagnant to me — both in location as well as plot. There are some books I hope to not take the characters on epic journeys because I’m interested in their current situation but since THE KISS OF DECEPTION started off with so much action and excitement, that kind of set the tone for me and I wanted Lia to go exploring across the land that she hadn’t really been allowed to explore before. I wanted to meet all kinds of new people. I wanted run-ins and chases and escapes! I guess that’s not really fair of me to dictate what I wanted out of a book when I had no idea what it held in store for me, but I think it was that first chapter that really set up that expectation and had me yearning for more.
I understand that the plot can’t be action-packed ALL the time, but things felt a little too happy-go-lucky for me for a large portion of the book and it wasn’t helping me to pick it back up and jump back into the story. I didn’t feel the suspense that kept pulling me in to read. I wanted so much more of things that were supposed to be mysterious! I feel like there weren’t enough clues or I didn’t have enough foundation for the world building to be interested in the mysterious aspects or even understand that something about that situation was off. I have been noticing lately that for my personal preferences in fantasy, I need a lot of world building in the beginning of a story in order to really connect and place myself in that world. I felt like there was some really nice set-up in the first chapter, but then world building and details slowly gave way to romance and the stories of secondary characters instead of focus on Lia and what her decision means to this entire world. I wanted to know more about why this marriage was so important, exactly what being a First Daughter meant, what these little interludes were all about… I just needed to be a bit more established and understand what this world was all about.
THE KISS OF DECEPTION follows three POVs — Lia, the prince, and the assassin. I immediately loved the POV switch but down the line, it became kind of confusing differentiating between the two male POVs and… It set things up for a love triangle… which I really could have done without. I was excited at first to see how the two male characters would both get involved with Lia’s life, but soon it became an all out battle for her affections and that became the main conflict in the plot for a while which I really wasn’t satisfied with. It began to feel like too much of a macho man competition and at one point they actually do physically battle.
The action really started to pick up about halfway through and I started getting much more involved in the story! Everything that I had been hoping for from the beginning started falling into place and the world building kicked in once the characters began digging deeper into their own pasts as well as that of their cities. It wasn’t until the story was winding down and I was 75% of the way through that I started really getting into it. The little twists were popping up everywhere and I loved the constant surprises and action! There was one big surprise that I really liked WHAT it was but I didn’t like HOW it happened. I felt really confused on at first… like I actually had felt like I had read the entire book wrong. I don’t want to get in why because that would ruin the entire surprise but I was incredibly confused and actually had to go back and search for previous information as well as reach out to other who had read the book. Definitely felt really stupid for a while so I’m not sure what that says about that particular twist. I feel like twists shouldn’t be confusing…? Or maybe that’s just reader error there. I really couldn’t say, but I felt really disappointed that it shocked me to the state of confusion and not just surprised me.
I finished the book pretty quickly after that point and really enjoyed the remainder! Things became much clearer, characters got answers to their questions, and there was a really nice set up for the rest of the series. It’s so hard to say how I really felt about this book because my feelings were just all over the place. I think I had hoped for a little bit more and I definitely felt like the black sheep since the first reviews I saw for it were all five-star-flails. *shrugs*
“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Lia // Character Obsessions: Escape, independence, freedom.
Oh, I was just all over the place with Lia. I really loved her determination and bravery in the beginning, but as she got comfortable in her new life, I got bored. The more she got involved with her love triangle, I got frustrated. At times she was bold and other times she was hasty and overconfident. I just couldn’t get a good read on her and maybe that’s where I struggled so much at times. I think she started off very naïve at the beginning and it took her a while to really grow into her responsibility and accept what her duty to her family and her city really entails.
Kept Me Hooked On: High fantasy. I love a good high fantasy and really enjoyed the different aspects of the royalty, kingdoms, and religious mythology that Mary E. Pearson created here. Just wished there was a liiiittle bit more of it. (Okay, a lot.)
Left Me Wanting More: World building. So much more. I just… I need it at the beginning. I need to know what world I’m in to really connect with the characters, figure out what’s important to them, and what’s important to the overall plot. I didn’t even know what the actual gifts of the First Daughters were for the longest time. Went back to look. Couldn’t find it. It would have helped to have that kind of stuff just a little more established in the beginning.
I had some issues with this — apparently more than I realized — but the majority of folks to seem to be giving it the full green light and then some. It’s definitely worth the read, but if your reading tastes seem to resemble mine, then just watch out for those things!
(Click the cover to see my review!)