The Kiss of Deception, the first in the Remnant Chronicles, is a YA fantasy by Mary E. Pearson. I loved it so much, and I give it a full ten stars. I recommend it to fans of Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne and The Young Elites by Marie Lu.
Summary (Goodreads): 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.
Non spoiler review: The first thing I have to talk about it the world building, because that’s what really stuck out. Wow. Before many of the chapters there are excerpts from their holy books, which added a lot of necessary detail. The kingdoms were well developed, and I really enjoyed getting absorbed into their world. There are three main kingdoms; Morrighan, Dalbreck and Venda. We follow one character from each kingdom, so we can really see their lives and what each place is like. The characters themselves were amazing too. Lia is a strong female charecter and not your typical princess. Between the two male leads we are given anything you could hope for in a male lead; sexy, smart, deceiving, romantic, and kind. I love them both, for very different reasons. Anyone looking for a gripping, unique fantasy read, should pick this one up.
I admire Lia so much. Not many people can escape the way she did (I loved that they showed how Rafe couldn’t, and how he wished he could have, because it just emphasies how brave this was). I find that our expectations many times are that the princess can’t be married off, because that’s too similar to the fairy-tales we’re trying to avoid now, and it doesn’t portray a strong female. But we often forget how hard that can be for these girls, where tradition is so important like it is in this book, and how peace his depended on it, and I think this book did a great job at portraying that struggle.
Who else was surprised when Kenden turned out to be the assassin and Rafe the prince? I was sure it was Rafe, and I was even upset when she started falling for him. Later, she did end up falling for the assassin, even though Rafe still cared for her from afar. I don’t think you can call this a love triangle. If you do, it’s definitely not a traditional one. She is not trying to choose between the two; she’s attracted to both, but she ultimately falls for Rafe, and I think that’s perfectly reasonable.
I loved seeing the process of how they each fell in love. All three were very hesitant, very careful, and almost didn’t see it coming. But once they were there, they were there, and you felt it. I enjoyed that very much.
Even though it had its cheesy parts, the characters and the world ultimately won me over. It was incredible.