The Kiss of Deception – Mary E. Pearson



Publisher: Henry Holt
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Romance, Mystery

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love

The Kiss of Deception is a mislabeled “fantasy” novel with bland characters, little to no plot, and instalove.

First of all, labeling his novel fantasy is a disservice to the genre. This novel is a young adult romance with a little mystery sprinkled throughout in a medieval setting. The only aspect of this novel that signals this story could be fantasy is the fact that the main character is a princess being married off to another realm for political purposes. The intention of creating a fantasy novel is present, but never followed through. The little world building that is in the novel isn’t found until the near end. At that point, it’s heavy-handed, uninspiring, and an excuse for a second novel.

The main character, Lia, is bland with little to no personality. Most of the novel is written as her inner monologue, so no strong character traits emerge in her interactions with others. When she does have character moments, they’re the stereotypical young adult moments of a strong young woman breaking free of oppression.

Kaden and Rafe are even blander. They’re chapters are devoid of any information about the characters because of the mystery of who is the assassin and who is the prince.

The mystery of this novel is interesting and unique. I was immediately intrigued when I read the synopsis and was only expecting an exciting fantasy novel with a solid mystery. The problem with The Kiss of Deception is, unfortunately, the mystery. The author focuses so much on the mystery that the characters and plot suffer greatly. Lia’s narrative suffers the most. Pearson’s choice to write certain scenes and encounters as unnecessary mysteries for a few paragraphs makes reading from her perspective tedious and annoying. Why does it need to be a mystery if she’s talking to Kaden or Rafe? All she’s accomplishing is forcing the reader to reread the beginning of their encounter to thoroughly under the characters.


Overall, The Kiss of Deception is a horribly mislabeled romance novel with an intriguing mystery that is overemphasized at the expense of the characters, narrative, and plot.


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