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Let me start out by saying that the description for this book is mildly deceiving. Right off the bat, Lia is fleeing from her proposed marriage, seeking a life other than that of a royal. What she finds is that while she can pretend to settle into a new life, she can never truly escape her royal blood, and must make some hard decisions along the way.
I LOVED Pearson’s strong, female lead. Lia stood her ground, and wasn’t afraid to say or do what she thought was right. YES. Far too often in “princess stories” the woman is a total waif. This girl wasn’t afraid to get dirty and fight for her beliefs.
I also really enjoyed the development of the character relationships. There was no insta-love, the relationships were built upon spending legitimate time together, and the idea of a girl crushing on more than one guy, with varying levels of attraction, is a completely normal and relate-able thing. The fact that no one was being honest about their background and who they were added to the intrigue, making the typical love triangle more refreshing to read.
Surprisingly enough, I also enjoyed the belief/religious aspects to the book. This is a medieval-esque fantasy, and it captures something that so few medieval fantasies capture: the religious traditions. The thought patterns and traditions of the world are very much based on their beliefs, and it’s a common theme through the book. I enjoyed the varying levels of devotion from the characters, as well as the traditions of celebrating the gods and blessing the departed, etc. It added depth to the story that you don’t often find, and is definitely in some way entangled into the storyline itself, but I think we’ll have to read on in the series to find out how!
But guys, I really think I wanted to love this book more than I did. What kills me is that I got to the end of the book and thought to myself, “I still don’t understand this world.” If you are writing any kind of series, to me it seems pretty crucial to do a lot of your world-building in the first book. The reader needs to understand the world in order to better focus on the plot twists and turns in your future books. I was left with a lot of questions, particularly about the songs/phrases/quotes found at the end of each chapter. It was hard to grasp their meaning and their place in the book, and it seems while we get some answers towards the end of the book, it still didn’t all come together for me.
THEN there’s the fact that I TOTALLY GOT THE TWO MAIN MALE CHARACTERS SWITCHED. I’m not sure what happened here – I know I was reading somewhat distractedly in the beginning, so perhaps I just missed the obvious hints of who was who. But I also sort of feel like maybe this “deception” is what the author was going for? I don’t know, but it left me feeling frustrated. My point of view on what was happening was completely wrong, and I had to change my whole thought process about the plot. It was definitely a turnoff for me as opposed to drawing me in more.
Overall, I got the impression that Pearson wrote this first book in order to set up the rest of her books. There were many things not explained, but you could tell that they would come up again later on. This left me feeling unsatisfied, because I had so many questions that went beyond the obvious cliffhanger ending.
Still, I did actually enjoy this book. It’s just that I wanted to love it so bad, and couldn’t. I think I’d pick up the second book to see where the plot is headed and whether or not I get some answers as well as more explanation of the world. This is a good read if you are looking for something fantasy-based with great, believable character relationships.
The Kiss of Deception comes out on July 15th.
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