The Remnant Chronicles #1
Mary E. Pearson
Available July 8th
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.
Kiss of Deception is a lighter variety of fantasy story, the sprawling world in place with a few fascinating creatures dotting its landscape, but for the most part the magical elements are relatively subtle, allowing the strength of Ms. Pearson’s characters to shine through. Lia’s journey gets off to a quick start as she flees her arranged marriage, but shortly after she and best friend Pauline arrive in the seaside town of Terravin things slow down considerably, and some readers may balk slightly at the change in pace. What keeps the girls’ time in Terravin from becoming overly monotonous however is the arrival of both Lia’s jilted prince and an assassin sent to kill her, the intricacies and complications of all three hidden identities keeping us fully engaged even though the pages may not be flipping with their previous speed.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the entire story is how Ms. Pearson executes the perspectives of Lia, the prince, and the assassin, alternating first person points of view to give us time in each of their heads. While we do learn the names of both young men, it’s a long time before we’re one hundred percent sure of who is the prince and who is the assassin, our time with each of them full of vague allusions to moments with Lia and thoughts that arguably could be attributed to either them. We’re therefore kept on our toes, constantly alert and attuned to every nuance of their characters–of which there are so beautifully many–trying to assign them their respective labels while we watch Lia begin to fall for one of them.
While the presence of two potential suitors may be instantly off-putting to those who fear the dreaded love triangle, Ms. Pearson, in my opinion, portrays the relationships between all three individuals free of the angst and the emotional vacillation that typically characterizes such romances. Lia’s affection for one young man in particular grows oh-so slowly as she and Pauline try to make a life for themselves in Terravin, and even as she finds herself in the company of the other for some time in the second half, her feelings remain unchanged. Both the prince and the assassin are given equal page time, though their time with Lia is essentially divided into two parts: One dominates the first half of the story and the second is given his time to shine in the latter half, both of them intriguing and deeply layered characters who have us craving the next book as soon as we flip the last page.
This review cannot be complete without singing the praises of Lia herself, born a princess but delightfully lacking the inflated ego that can often accompany such a position. She has a smart mouth she puts to use on those who deserve it, and she shares a loyalty and friendship with Pauline that brings a smile to our faces as they set out side by side into the unknown. When things get rough for her and her journey takes a heart-pounding turn with the reveal of the assassin’s identity, she remains steadfast and strong, showing a mental and physical fortitude not many would possess in her same situation. Things get darker as her new journey progresses, culminating in a devastating emotional blow that results in pages polka-dotted with our tears, but we’re left with the identities of all three players finally out in the open and our hearts all the lighter for it.
Overall, despite a slight lull in the first half after a strong beginning and the lack of clarity regarding Lia’s supposed gift and where it came from for most of the book, Kiss of Deception is an entertaining story with a richly detailed world and gorgeously complex characters.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.