The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

OH MY GODDDDDDDD. This book blew my expectations out of the water. I've read a lot of positive reviews, but still. Damn.

I read about forty pages of this last summer, but I wasn't impressed with it and set it aside. I picked it up again because I decided I needed to read a little bit more before I was fully done with it, and I was craving a fantasy romance. By picking it up again, I discovered that, yes, the first ninety pages are pretty boring. But the rest of it is just...wonderful.

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.

Lia is great character. She's strong and badass, absolutely, but she can feel so much and become so vulnerable. She possesses an innocence to her that you wouldn't expect of a princess; like how she is willing to throw away the prospects of peace because she isn't in love. She isn't cliche in the slightest. She's dynamic and multifaceted.

Now, I gotta talk about the romance. I, personally, am not offended by love triangles like so many are. I think they are addictive as hell. But this book truly didn't feel like it had a love triangle. Lia is so set on one of the guys, from the first meeting, that the other just basically felt like eye candy and a little bit of lust. And the guys....just...yes. Rafe and Kaden are so damn swoony. But Rafe has my heart, and he will never let it go.

The whole novel is written very simply, but in an immensely elegant way. It doesn't try to be more than it is, but it greatly succeeds in being what it is. AND OH MY GOD. THIS HAD A PLOT TWIST THAT I DID NOT SEE COMING. IT WAS SO AMAZING. I CANNOT SAY ANYTHING MORE WITHOUT BEING SPOILERY. But the last few pages are a truly work of art. I finished them, then legitimately jumped up in the air and screamed, "YES!" and then began to do a happy dance. I am not kidding in the slightest. I then sat down my boyfriend and reread them aloud to him, so he too could bask in the perfection.

I have to wrap up this review now. I am desperate to read the next one.

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