Published 2014, 486pp, Henry Holt
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
On the morning of her wedding, Princess Lia and her handmaiden Pauline run away. Forced into an arranged marriage with the Prince of Dalbreck intended to bridge the divide between the two Kingdoms, Lia wants to start a new life. A life where no one knows she is a Princess, a life where people can love her for her, not purely because she is the First Daughter of Morrighan. As a First Daughter, Lia is expected to have the sight, and it is abundantly clear she doesn’t, that is until she reaches Terravin, where life as a tavern maid shows her she is far more capable than she had thought.
When two gorgeous men walk into her tavern, Lia’s life changes forever. Unbeknownst to her, one is the jilted Prince come to see the girl strong enough to run away from the anger of two Kingdoms and the other is an assassin, sent to slit her throat from the rival Kingdom of Venda who wish to destroy all possibilities of the match being rekindled. The narrative splits between Lia and the two men. As the novel progresses, we learn their names are Rafe and Kaden and there are soon chapters from their perspectives as well. However, we do not know which is which. There are still chapters named Assassin and Prince, but they focus more on their duties to their homelands while the named chapters focus on their personal feelings toward Lia. This keeps the reader guessing as to who is who up until about 3/4s of the way through the novel. I’m pleased that my original guess was right, but each new chapter gave me doubts and left me desperate to know.
Lia is a very interesting character and not at all like a spoilt Princess who has shirked her responsibilities. She is compassionate and hardworking, wary yet forgiving, gifted at languages and eager to fit in. I fell in love with this book, and was so glad the sequel, The Heart of Betrayal came out this July so I was able to order it and keep reading. There is a big twist at the end, and I’m sure I would have started to tear my hair out had the sequel not been immediately available. This was another novel that I didn’t want to end. There was no neat ending and was definitely left open for the sequel. The world building is phenomenal and the spiritual element to the Kingdoms is integral to the storyline and I love that. It’s the start of a coming of age trilogy, as Princess, Lia is sheltered in her beliefs by her parents, especially her mother, and it’s not until she strikes out on her own does she learn the truth. The truth about herself, the Kingdom she loved, and her family.
I cannot describe how much I enjoyed this book and its sequel. The characters are well developed and everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t pick up on it until much later. The four protagonists (including Pauline) are all likable in their own way, although it is not until it is made clear who is who do male characters come into their own. No one is two dimensional, even the Assassin is lovable as he fights between loyalty to his Kingdom and the man that he owes his life to, and his growing attachment to Lia as he gets to know her. It is excellent.
Buy The Kiss of Deception here.