Monday, June 30, 2014

ARC Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Title: The Kiss of Deception (Remnant Chronicles, #1) 

Author: Mary E. Pearson

Rating: 2 Stars

Release Date: July 8th, 2014

The Kiss of Deception is a bundle of contradictions, both on and off the page. It has a love triangle, it doesn't have a love triangle; it tells a tale of deceit, it doesn't truly hide any deception from the reader; its protagonist is a strong female, its protagonist is weak-willed. While I wasn't too keen on picking up this installment--at least not until the entire series had played out--the reviews left me in deep confusion. After combing through GoodReads far longer than I should have, I finally decided to pick up my ARC and simply dive in. Even if I didn't enjoy the romance, the reviews guaranteed that the second-half of this novel was a significant improvement and the political plot threads would certainly keep me satisfied.


As I mentioned, The Kiss of Deception is a novel of contrasts; in certain sections of the book, certain tropes seem far more evident than in others. Thus, I hope you will forgive me for taking the liberty to spread open this volume and critique it from its first-quarter, to its second, to the last half. I promise, this review is spoiler-free. (Not bitter-free, though, be warned!) 

The First Quarter (A.K.A. The Set Up) 

The Kiss of Deception begins with Lia, the princess of the realm, fleeing her arranged marriage with the prince of Dalbreck. Lia ascends from a long line of princesses with power--known as the First Daughter--and, for that reason, they are prized above all else. For Lia, this means that her abilities will join her to a man she has never met all for the safety of the kingdom. What's more, Lia doesn't truly possess any magic--her gift never blossomed and it seems it never will. Thus, to escape the sham that her life is about to become, she escapes her wedding and decided to strike out on her own. 

Following Lia's escape, the prince of Dalbreck makes his way after her, determined to meet the woman who dared flee her wedding alter, and, what's more, an assassin troops after her as well. During this first quarter of the novel, the tale is told from the perspective of Lia, the Prince, and the Assassin. Lia finds a job as a tavern maid and her attention becomes sought after by two men, Rafe and Kade, only both Lia and the reader don't know which one of these two is the Prince and which one is the Assassin. I found this portion to be reminiscent of typical fantasy works as Lia trekked across the country alongside her friend, Pauline, and their evolving friendship is so realistically portrayed throughout the narrative. I further appreciated Lia's willingness to embrace a new lifestyle and the format in which this part of the novel was written worked exceedingly well as I found myself trying to guess just who was who. 

Unfortunately, there are trickles of a full-blown love triangle in the beginning quarter of this novel as well. As a princess, Lia has never experienced intimacy with a man because of the fear her older brothers and father have inspired in any potential suitors. Thus, as a tavern maid she is given infinitely more freedom in every regard, including this one. I understood her as her thoughts strayed towards comparing and contrasting these two men, but it became irritating too. I wanted Lia to lose her naivety quickly and I also wanted the pace of the novel to pick up. It just felt too slow, this beginning, with so much being set up and the characters lacking true personalities. The Prince and the Assassin, especially, read far too similar during this portion of the novel to stand out and I didn't want Lia to fall for either of them. 

The Second Quarter (A.K.A. Who Will Lia Pick?) 

I'm not sure if it's a positive or a negative that Lia finally sets her sights on one of her two potential suitors in this section. Of course, the love triangle theme continues on during this last half of the first half, but once Lia sets her sights on one man, it was certainly a relief. Yet, what really shines in this aspect of the novel is the perspective of the prince. As he gets to know Lia, he also finds out why she fled her wedding and the accusations she holds against him are ones he uses to grow, change, and become a better individual. (The prince finds out about Lia's feelings through eavesdropping--she never reveals that she is a former princess.) 

Yet, what truly annoyed me about this section is the fact that both the men in question, the prince and the assassin, begin to love Lia. Granted, Lia only loves one of them, but she still holds the other in high regard and the very fact that two men love the same woman constitutes a love triangle label, in my opinion. Now that the set-up is over, you'd think there would be more action but, instead, this section continues at a languid pace, outlying the normalcy of Lia's life. As we near the half-way mark of the novel, circumstances become evident to Lia and she recognizes that escaping from her wedding had many unforeseen and negative consequences on the kingdom as a whole. Thus, Lia prepares to head home--and we finally get our first glimpse of some action! 

The Third Quarter (A.K.A. Action! ...Sorta) 

With Lia heading back to reclaim her throne, tensions run high since the assassin has yet to make his move and the prince, who hasn't claimed his royal position either, must make a decision about the future. Before Lia can reach her palace--or even near it--however, she is kidnapped. I won't be giving away any more details because of spoilers, but I'll say that she was kidnapped by The One She Didn't Choose. What I liked about this part of the novel is that we finally see Lia grow and embrace her destiny. While she began this novel by running away, as the situation turns dire she forces herself to leave behind a life she loves--a life of freedom and love--to return to her home. When this plan is further thwarted, the backbone she grows and the determination she assumes are admirable. I finally began to like Lia at this stage in the novel. Moreover, Lia's relationship with her brother, Walther, is built up over the course of the novel and its continued realism and strength even at this stage of the novel only added to our growing depth of Lia as a character. Of course, the relationships at this stage are at their most complex as Lia is reeling from truths that have finally been revealed and The One She Didn't Choose still cares deeply for her, despite kidnapping her. 

Sadly, I continued to feel a classic love triangle vibe as this portion of the story plodded along. It made me anxious throughout reading the narrative and the perspectives of The Guy She Did Choose were so weak in this section that I truly felt as if the romance was, once again, about the overtake the narrative. Due to the fact that Lia was no longer stationary, however, the world-building began to expand in this section and the political set-up at play, here, is certainly interesting to say the least. Unfortunately, with the focus of this novel being entirely on Lia and her relationship with these two guys, any real political situation was neatly prevented from being expanded upon. Instead, in this particular portion of the story, Lia gets to know her captives a bit better and their culture reflects further enhanced the world-building at play. 

The Last Quarter (A.K.A. The End) 

As I mentioned before, as this story draws to a close the love triangle is only further heightened as it becomes more and more obvious that both the men we met at the beginning of this story are besotted with Lia. Nevertheless, there are plenty of interesting revelations in this last quarter and as Lia undergoes various experiences, she finally transforms into a different kind of heroine, far removed from the naive girl she used to be. While I loved Lia's growth throughout the narrative, though, and found the reveals of "deception" to be well-timed, the ending of this story did little to strengthen my resolve in it. 

The Kiss of Deception is a novel centered around the growth of one heroine, which I love, but sadly this growth further stems from a love triangle and various acts of "deception" that never kept the reader shocked, surprised, or entertained. It's a story where little happens and the world-building, though interesting, is not impressive enough to keep me glued on for another installment. Just too little happens in this story and, towards the end, when the tale finally finds its true stride, it ends. 

Not only were the characters in this novel rather a-typical, but the desert setting and princess plot line has been done before and in far better instances. As a high-fantasy fanatic, I can claim that The Kiss of Deception is fantasy-lite, at best, if not romantic fantasy outright. It doesn't have a classic love triangle (not for its entire duration, at any rate), but even a situation where two guys are interested in the same girl seems to annoy me. What's more, The Guy Lia Did Choose and Lia have a very small romantic arc to constitute as true love. It needed a great deal of expansion for me and nearly leans towards the insta-love category in some ways. Ultimately, there is too little to recommend this novel forward. When I said that The Kiss of Deception came to an end, I meant my involvement with it came to a close as well. Granted, there are positive points to its narrative--I won't deny that--but this simply was not for me. The Kiss of Deception: here's to hoping I forget about you and your deceptively beautiful cover very, very  soon. 


  1. Third quarter seems full of contradiction. Although, it's great to see Lia grow, kidnapping seems to bother me. The concept of love triangle in books is something I loathe. On reading mixed reviews of this book, I'm utterly confused on starting it. Maybe I should give it a try and see for myself. Thoughtful review, Keertana!!

  2. Oh, this is such a disappointment, Keertana. I expected (and hoped for) a lot from this book, but it sounds like it's yet another love triangle masked by a fantastic premise. Unfortunately, I'm growing tired of stories where the protagonist can't seem to agonize over anything but love. I'm not sure this is for me after all. Thanks for the honest review, girl!

  3. I have wanted this for a bit now and even though you only gave it 2 stars rating i kinda want to read it even more :-)

  4. Aw, that's really disappointing. I wanted to read this one so much, not just because of the cover (which I admit is pretty), but well, it's fantasy and I love anything fantasy. But I certainly wasn't expecting it to be overwhelmed by a love triangle (OF COURSE). If ever I gather myself to read this, it will have to be for the growth of the characters involved, and I hope they're enough to satiate me, considering my very thin patience for unnecessary romance conflicts.

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

  5. Aww, I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy this, Keertana! I liked The Adoration of Jenna Fox so I was excited for The Kiss of Deception, but the mention of love triangle dampened my enthusiasm instantly. The growth of the main character seems to come a bit late, and the love between her and the guy she chooses doesn't sound emotional at all. I think I'll look out for more reviews before deciding to pick up this book.

    Thank you for your lovely, honest review! :)

  6. Ugh love triangle. ANd the rest sounds bad too

  7. Uh oh.. I wanted to read this, but your review makes me drop the plan. I am not fond of love triangles. Also if I leave that bit, the rest sounds bad too.

  8. Oh no. I'm so sorry to hear this. I absolutely loved KISS OF DECEPTION and found the slow pace beautiful in the end, where it really picks up. I loved the love triangle, too, though it's not much of a love triangle, as you know.

    Great review, Keertana!

    Hafsah @ IceyBooks

  9. I loved this book. Sigh. I hate love triangles too, but oddly enough, in this novel I didn't mind it much. I was just too intrigued at the two guys. Plus, I mistaken the assassin for the prince! I was so taken aback and it rarely happens so I gave it as a plus to the book as well.

    I'm so sad you didn't like The Kiss of Deception, but I really do understand where you're coming from. Thank you for your honest review, Keertana! :)

  10. Oh I'm so sorry that you weren't able to enjoy this story Keertana. It sounds like in parts in had the potential to deliver a solid novel, but just sort of faltered. I do like seeing a character go through great growth such as Lia did, so may give this book a go for that reason alone. Thank you for the honest review Keertana!

  11. Grr to love triangles. Especially since the darned assassin didn't do his job and kill the chick as soon as he found her. No. He had to go and fall for her. Lia sounds like a bit of a spitfire, though, and I like that in my characters. I think, despite the triangle, I'll have to give this one a go.

  12. Wow. This is the second less-than enthusiastic review I've read for this one today, and I'm starting to feel like the odd man out! I loved this book, and weirdly, didn't feel like the love triangle was a true one, though I can definitely understand why the setup was bothersome for you Keertana! I do agree it was slow going in the beginning for sure, and was more romantic fantasy than true fantasy though:)

  13. I have this coming up for review as well and I felt very similar about it that you did, it was just an okay read for me and nothing like what I was hoping it would be.

  14. Aw, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it more (I loved the writing / story, although I do agree with some of your points).

    Nice honest review!

  15. Most of the reviews I've seen for this one have been pretty positive so it's nice to see a negative review. I really liked that you went so in depth for each section of the book as it gave me a better idea of what to expect from this one. I'm pretty sure I'll end up reading this because it still has some aspects of a fantasy - although I'm not in a rush to do so - but will go in with lowered expectations. Great review, Keertana!

  16. Oh no! Say it isn't so! I'm so sad to hear that you did not enjoy this one because I was really looking forward to it. I mean, that cover! It's absolutely stunning! I was worried that a love triangle would pop up, given that both the assassin and the prince are pursuing Lia, and it's such a shame that there is actually one, even if it's only sort of a love triangle. I would want more world building than there seems to be in this one, and I'm beginning to think I might steer clear of this one, given how you felt about it. Thanks for your honest review, Keertana! Beautifully written as always! :D

  17. And yet another pretty cover gone to waste. I wanted to read this one badly when I first saw it but now I don't think it will happen. I don't like when there is everything and nothing in the book so yeah I get it. Sorry it was a disappointment, Keertana :)

  18. Sorry you didn't enjoy this one. However, your review actually has me curious and wanting to try it. I'm not happy about the triangle, but she does choose so I think I may be good. Hm... I hope I don't feel the same way you did... but I want to find out! :)

  19. I was convinced I had to read The Kiss of Deception this year, but now, I'm not so sure. It always helps to read a critical review before taking the plunge with a hyped-up book. I like that the culture of the world is strong, and Lia's character growth is realistic, but everything surrounding the love triangle is making me a little hesitant. The Love T being the reason behind a lot of the action and the sole purpose behind Lia's growth isn't exactly what I was hoping for. Now, I'm not writing this one off just yet, because it sounds like it has more to it, but I think it's best if I wait for the sequel and see what others make of it first. While I could end up enjoying this installment, I want to be sure the series (as a whole) is worth my time. Thanks for your thoughts, Keertana! I'm sorry you didn't connect with this, but your experience and assessment was truly helpful!

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

  20. Just the fact that it has a bad love triangle, or a triangle at all makes me kind of cringe and run for the hills

  21. Sorry you didn't like this one! It's always hard when you do research and think a book is for you, only to discover that it isn't. I disliked a lot of the same elements that you did. The Teravina section was boring and too focused on Lia and the two guys. The actual romance is quickly developing and hard to focus on with the other guy floating around. It's hard to tell whether the author is creating a love triangle, or just doing that to confuse the reader about who is who. I did like Lia in the last half. I thought there are some great scenes there, especially concerning her brother. And I'm interested in where the narrative goes in regards to the 3 kingdoms. But I won't read further if the love triangle picks up again, which it probably will the more I think about. Very thorough review!

  22. This is highly disappointing, Keertana. I haven't read the series yet, but it sounds like something I may be able to live without. There's just too many problems that I feel would grate on my nerves as well.

    Great review, as always.


I love hearing from my readers and I read, reply, and appreciate every one of the comments I receive!(: If you're a fellow blogger, please leave a link to your blog - I'd love to drop by!

Unfortunately, this is now an award-free blog. I simply do not have the time to respond and forward on the award, but I truly appreciate the nomination regardless.