Monday, July 14, 2014

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Main character: 17-year-old Lia, First Daughter of the house of Morrighan
Location: Morrighan and neighboring lands
Time period: Fantasy Middle Ages
Genre: YA Fiction, Fantasy

Lia is being prepared for her wedding--a wedding she does not want to a man she has never met or even seen. The arranged marriage between her and the Prince of Dalbeck will bring peace to their two countries, but Lia sees the relationship between her parents, whose own marriage was an arranged, political one, and she knows that she could not bear that.  So, with the help of her maid, Pauline, she escapes the palace and, disguised as a commoner, heads to a town far enough away that no one will recognize her.  There she cheerfully gets a job as a  barmaid and for the first time in her life feels free.

Not too long after her arrival, two young men come into the inn where Lia is working.  What we, readers, know that Lia does not is that one of them is the jilted prince of Dalbeck, come to retireve the princess to restore his country's honor.  The other is an assassin from Venda, tasked with killing the princess to destroy any chance of peace between Morrighan and Dalbeck.  But even we do not know which one is which.

This is a very cleverly written novel with a trio of likeable characters at its core--yes, even the assassin.  In many ways, it reminded me of The False Prince trilogy by Jennifer Nieman. Though Lia has a power--a type of foresight--there is not a lot of magic in this fantasy (though that may change in the upcoming books), and there is a similar theme of young people being used as playing pieces in a political game.

The Kiss of Deception also has its share of romance, as Lia finds herself attracted to both men, and they certainly seem to be competing for her attention. The inevitable revelation of all the hidden identities is almost a disappointment, but it does shift the tone of the book from a pastoral interlude to an action cliffhanger (this is the first of a series, after all.)  I quite enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the future volumes.

I read The Kiss of Deception as an e-ARC from NetGalley.

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