The Kiss of Deception: review

August 26, 2014 2014, 4 star books, fantasy, romance 48 ★★★★

The Kiss of Deception: reviewThe Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Published by Macmillan on July 8, 2014
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 492 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

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.


I first read Mary E. Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox and was blown away by the beautiful language. The Kiss of Deception did not disappoint. This is a fantasy story filled with lush writing, a good mystery, and a strong female lead.

Lia, like many young princesses in fantasy stories, is betrothed to be married, but instead of going through with the marriage, she runs away to live a life of anonymity as a bar maid. From this first act to the last page Lia goes through a massive transformation, from the girl who runs away from her problems and responsibilities, to a woman who takes control of who she is. I really loved seeing how she grew over the course of the story.

The fantasy world was also very immersive. Although there was a bit of clunky exposition in the beginning, as the story went on the details given about the world outside of the kingdom Lia grew up in were intriguing. This is a world with a distinct history and culture. The story moves to many different places, giving the world a bigger, more realistic scope, which I really enjoyed.

Some of the best parts of the story are when Lia interacts with the world around her—the religion, the other cultures, and the war and politics. War is in the background for most of the story, but it always apparent. I liked how it was portrayed the way it really is—messy and with multiple sides. Some of my favorite parts were where Lia had to deal with the political consequences of her running away and how they effect the people she loves.

The one thing that kept me from fully being able to immerse myself in the story was the romance. To be more specific, the romantic leads, Rafe and Kaden. It wasn’t the love triangle. I didn’t mind that. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them. I did. It’s that for about two thirds of the book you just don’t know which guy is the prince and which is the assassin.

I enjoyed the mystery of it at first, but found it hard to connect emotionally with either guy when I didn’t know the context behind their characters. The perspective shifts between all three characters. When the perspective had a name attached it was careful to avoid anything that would conclusively say who they were. The same happened when the perspective was Assassin or Prince. It was only when their respective identities were revealed that I was able to understand and connect with them as individuals. Because of this, I didn’t really care about the romance because the whole time Lia was busy being in love I was focused on whether or not she picked the one that was trying to kill her. Still, this is definitely something where mileage will vary.

This is the first in a series. I wouldn’t call it a cliffhanger, but the story definitely ends on a high point that makes me want to know what happens next. I would recommend this for anyone who loves interesting female leads, immersive fantasy worlds, and a story that will constantly keep you guessing.

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48 Responses to “The Kiss of Deception: review”

  1. Alexa S.

    Honestly, it took a bit of time for me to really get into The Kiss of Deception. But once it hit its stride, I wound up being really intrigued! I’m curious to see how Pearson will continue this tale, and I definitely need to find out what happens to Lia, Rafe & Kaden.
    Alexa S. recently posted…I Shall Be Near To You – Erin Lindsay McCabe

  2. Angelique

    I just bought this and can’t wait to read it. It sounds really good, despite the negative reviews. I never base what I read on reviews because I might just end up liking it. That’s what happened with The Queen of The Tearling. I liked it a lot!

  3. KAVYA

    its interesting, its somethings which has mystreys and fantany all over hopefully will read out infuture

  4. Liat

    When I first read about the book I thought it sounded interesting, but after reading several not-so-enthusiastic reviews I kind of gave up on the book. It’s not even that I’m such a love triangle-hater like the fact that I overdosed on rebellious-gorgeous-17-year-old-princesses. But I might give this book a try some time in the future.

  5. Carina Olsen

    It still makes me a bit depressed that I did not like this book. Sigh. It just wasn’t for me :) But I’m glad you liked it, Peyton :D I love your review. <3 Thank you for sharing :)
    Carina Olsen recently posted…In My Mailbox #148

  6. Alessandra

    HAVE to read this book so soon.
    It sounds so amazing and it´s about a strong character who has to be killed but dosent even know who wants to kill her and who loves her anyway normal problems right. And the question of qeustions prince or murderer ???

  7. Valerie

    I still have yet to read this, but I have also heard about the romance, and not being able to distinguish between the two guys. I hope this doesn’t bother me as much though, because the rest of the book seems really good! Thanks for the review! I hope to pick this up soon!
    Valerie recently posted…Review: Landline

    • Peyton

      Even though you don’t know which guy has which identity they are still unique individuals. And, after the reveal they grow even more as two very different characters. It’s just the mystery that kind of holds them back in the beginning. I hope you enjoy it when you read it! :)
      Peyton recently posted…Sacrifice (Elemental #5) by Brigid Kemmerer: review

  8. A Canadian Girl

    I loved The Adoration of Jenna Fox (which actually was the first book I ever reviewed) and so was curious to see what Pearson could do with a fantasy. Unfortunately this one was only okay because of the emphasis on the romance. Like you, I didn’t really care about either guy. But, I loved the worldbuilding in this one.
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Review: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

  9. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Highly enjoyed this story! I didn’t really believe the romance but I did like how the boys were treated, that we didn’t know for certain who was whom until near the end of this first installment (I’m terrible at guessing and, yes, did make the right guess as to who was the prince and who was the assassin but the story didn’t lose any of its charm because I did). Very interested to see what happens when they cross that bridge…

    • Peyton

      I’m glad you guessed right! I was so busy second-guessing myself I was actually surprised at the reveal. But, I agree, though not knowing who was who was frustrating, the way the boys were handled as characters was actually really good. I believed in and was interested by their motivations. I can’t wait to see how they all interact now that everything’s out in the open. This is the problem with reading books when they come out. Too long a wait!
      Peyton recently posted…Sacrifice (Elemental #5) by Brigid Kemmerer: review

  10. Jamie

    I read this book before it came out and I loved it so much I wish I could’ve given it six stars on Goodreads! In the review, you pointed out that it was hard to immerse oneself in the romance because the reader didn’t know who was the prince and who was the assassin until two thirds of the way through the book. Even though I loved not knowing, I agree that it was tougher to indulge in the love triangle. Great review!
    Jamie recently posted…Six Star Reviews: Kiss of Deception

  11. Pili

    Fantastic review!
    I’ve been feeling a bit torn about this one for a while given the love triangle, cause I really am not a fan! It seems that even if you didn’t have problems with the triangle itself, you didn’t connect too well with the romance, but that didn’t stop you giving this book 4 stars, so pair that with the fact that you describe the writing as lush, a strong female lead and a very intriguing world and that I am still in fantasy kick… I think I ought to finally get this one and decide for myself!
    Pili recently posted…Xpresso Book Tour Blog Tour for Gypsy by Trisha Leigh!!

  12. Michelle V. B.


    Very insightful review. I found that the mystery added to the allure of a romance, and for some reason, it was easy for me to connect to the characters. While the two male leads were not as defined as other male characters may be, I enjoyed it. It reminded me of older classics and their writing style.

    Looking forward to more of your reviews!

    • Peyton

      Thank you! Yeah, I think how people like the mystery will definitely vary by person. I can see why people would enjoy it, but it just went on a little two long for me. :) After the reveal I grew to really like both of the male characters, though.
      Peyton recently posted…The Kiss of Deception: review

  13. Wendy Darling

    Ah, Peyton! So excited for your first review with us. :)

    I totally agree that the second half was better than the first. I found myself so frustrated with the deliberate misdirects re: the two boys that it really hampered my enjoyment of the story. And while I love romance, it felt like there was so much focus on that and the romance was so unrewarding that I couldn’t focus on the parts that I did like.

    You zeroed right in on why the romance didn’t work, though. I was trying to explain to people why I didn’t care for the romance in this book when I don’t even mind love triangles as much as some of my friends do. But not being able to connect with either guy is it exactly! I’m even more annoyed now, hah, because it feels like all this was done as a clever writing technique to keep you guessing.

    Like you, I liked the world and the main character, though. I will rely upon your guidance to let me know whether I should read the sequel. :)

    • Peyton

      Yay, thanks!

      Yes, I hate deliberate misdirects! There is no way one of those guys wouldn’t at some point think “Man, too bad I’m supposed to kill her” or “Man, I wonder if what would have happened if we actually got married” while interacting with her. Especially once the romance really got started. For a while there I actually thought she might not reveal in the first book, so at least I was wrong on that!

      I will definitely let you know how I like the sequel when it comes out! I have a feeling I’m really going to like it on world building alone, but we shall see! :)
      Peyton recently posted…The Kiss of Deception: review

  14. Michelle @ Happy Indulgence

    Brilliant review, Peyton! I’m so glad that you enjoyed this beauty! I read it a month back and it was perfect to me. Mary E. Pearson is such a fantastic writer! Her writing is utterly lush, and the characters were the best thing to me-as well as the romance. I’d definitely recommend picking up her other series, The Jenna Fox Chronicles, if you haven’t already. I’m onto the final book soon!
    Michelle @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Rain by Amanda Sun Review: Kami Gods descend on Tokyo

    • Peyton

      The whole reason I picked this up was because of Jenna Fox! I haven’t read the rest of the series, though. Are the rest of them as good as the first? I need to pick them up! Mary E. Pearson just has a way with description and comes up with such creative worlds.
      Peyton recently posted…The Kiss of Deception: review

  15. Layla

    Hmm, maybe I’ll pick this up. I’m a sucker for lush writing. I can see how being able to identify which of the romantic leads is the assassin or prince could be difficult, though. I laughed when I read this: “Because of this, I didn’t really care about the romance because the whole time Lia was busy being in love I was focused on whether or not she picked the one that was trying to kill her.” – but it’s totally true! It also takes away from its being a love triangle in some sense – it’s not like these are equal choices if one of them wants to murder her. Anyway. I love immersive fantasy worlds and your review has piqued my interest!
    Layla recently posted…The Kiss of Deception: review

  16. Brenda

    I can see where not having the perspective of knowing who is the Assassin versus the Prince would make it hard to root for one over the other. Yet, from your description it sounds like the world makes up for this.

    • Peyton

      I think what was frustrating was there were actually four perspectives besides Lia- the Assassin, the Prince, Rafe, and Kaden. So you get all these different details and motives, but for the bulk of the story you don’t know what applies to who. That was my only real complaint about the story and the characters themselves were really interesting, though.
      Peyton recently posted…The Kiss of Deception: review

    • Peyton

      I’m glad you enjoyed it too! I think it was the last third that solidified this as a 4 star book rather than a 3. It just got so much more fun after the reveal for me and I think the next one is going to be really great!
      Peyton recently posted…The Kiss of Deception: review

  17. Nikki

    This is one I’m thinking I’ll have to pick up. I don’t usually like fantasy but when an author as amazing world building skills it’s a little easier to get on board. From your review, it definitely sounds like this is a very easy world to become immersed into.

    • Peyton

      I definitely did! :) It just has so many little details to make it seem more real, which is always something I really like. I hope you enjoy it and if you’re more into real world settings I would recommend picking up one of her other books.
      Peyton recently posted…The Kiss of Deception: review