NO SPOILERS, PROMISE!
I needed a bit of romance and fantasy in my life and as soon as I heard the premise of The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, I knew that I had to read it. The other two books in the trilogy were on sale on Book Outlet which I took as a sign, so I purchased the entire series.
The story of The Kiss of Deception follows Lia, a princess who is not interested in the marriage that her parents arranged for her and so on the day of the wedding, before she has even seen her intended for the first time, she flees with her best friend/maid Pauline. The two of them build a home in a town far from the capital and start working as bar maids in a tavern. It is there that Lia is discovered by two men – the prince that she was supposed to marry, and an assassin from another kingdom sent to kill her. And she falls in love with one of them. But which is which?!
I have a lot of feelings about this book and it was everything that I could ever want out of a (YA? Probably) fantasy romance. Not only does Lia not know the true identities of the two men who inexplicably intertwine their lives with hers, but you as the reader don’t know which one of them is which. And I will say that I’m still a bit mad at myself for having guessed wrong!
What starts out as a romance and a princess trying to reinvent herself becomes so much more as the story slowly builds and the politics and intrigues of the world find Lia once again, coming to a cliffhanger end that had me dying to read the next one. Luckily I already had the next one in my possession so I was able to just go ahead and keep reading.
The novel far surpassed my expectations, melding a romance into an exciting fantasy thrill ride that left me so full of feelings! Lia is a wonderful character and I couldn’t help but root for her. You expect this to be a fish-out-of-water sort of story, but that particular trope is wonderfully subverted with a protagonist that values and does hard work despite having grown up in a very privileged world, with none of the “I don’t know how to do this simple thing” hijinks that other similar stories linger on.
Two other things that this book did so well are the love triangle and multiple points of view. I generally hate love triangles, which I’ve mentioned before. I think they are unnecessary to create tension and drama in relationships. But I LOVED the love triangle here! The mystery aspect of not knowing who is who left me torn as to who to root for and after having found out the answer to the mystery, I’m still torn since I love both men! I often find it easy to root for one side of the triangle, but not here.
I also usually strongly dislike books told in multiple points of view, especially once you go beyond two points of view. The Kiss of Deception is told from five points of view from three people. What I mean by that is that the primary narrative is Lia’s, but we also get the prince’s point of view, the assassin’s, and then the two points of view of those men as we know them by name but not occupation. Not once did I feel like I was rushing through any particular chapter in order to get back to the narrative that I was most interested in because I was interested in all of them, a feat that no other novel that I can bring to mind has ever done for me.
Another rarity for me is being so into a book that I start crying. Two books in my life have done that for me. Where the Red Fern Grows because SPOILERS the dogs die, and Feed by Mira Grant for reasons that I will not spoil (and that instantly catapulted it to the My Favorite Book of All Time spot). The Kiss of Deception made me cry, that’s how engaged and attached I was.
I cannot recommend this book enough. If you like romance, fantasy, adventure, and mystery, then this book is for you! Five out of five stars.