Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Review: Kiss of Deception

In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

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 assasin 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.

There was a cleverness of illusion here that is difficult to spot at first. Consider this--a princess flees, so an assassin and prince follow. Who do you trust? The princess who puts her wishes above the peace of her kingdom? A prince who followed out of curiosity at first? An assassin who took the "easy job" so he could then go on vacation? Do you trust the man with an easy smile, charming charisma? Or the man who pushes you constantly? When does the lies you told to find your way become a trap that makes you easy prey?

Like The Fox Chronicles Pearson plays with perception, expectations and phrasing to leave the reader guessing about Kaden and Rafe as well as what was really going in with Lia.  Neither Rafe nor Kaden are easy to pinpoint motivations for as they themselves are uncertain about what matters more.  Lia, despite being so certain about what she doesn't want, begins to feel conflicted as her past unravels.  In many ways Lia's escape and hopes were doomed from the beginning because so much was hidden from her.

Until the end its hard to say who is really feeling what.  Despite her reluctance to marry her jilted Prince, Lia does want to keep her people safe (its just unfortunate that her parents want to perpetuate  a horrendous falsehood and possibly sacrifice her in the process).  Kaden is easy-going and charming, but that doesn't always mesh well with his inner dialogue or what he says to Lia.  Then there's Rafe.  The first impression Lia has of him is of uneasiness and calculation.  He studies her, constantly, and uses his words to confuse her as much as interest her.  He does the gentleman thing when it suits him, but he's far more interested in finding out what makes Lia Lia.  

I'll admit that the love triangle wore on me to a great degree.  No one is who they claim they are (or even who they claim TWICE who they are...plots within plots as they say in Dune) and no one is playing a simple game.  It made buying into the romance(s) difficult for me.  I don't mind love triangles when there's a real sense of decision to be made, but in this case no one knew what they wanted from themselves so the development for the romance felt stunted and under-formed by the end.

This was very much set up as part of a larger trilogy and it suffers at times for that.  Even as emotions are involved you don't get a sense of urgency really.  There's heart-wrenching moments and happy moments.  Moments of 'omg why would you do that?' and moments of 'it will work out in the end'.  Unlike with THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX and its sequels, this book doesn't end cleanly.  I wish this was more contained, but I'm looking forward to the sequel so I'll attempt patience. (ha!)