Book One of the Remnant Chronicles
By Mary E. Pearson
Available now from Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan)
Mary E. Pearson has tacked contemporary and science fiction, and now she's taking on fantasy. KISS OF DECEPTION is the story of Lia, a princess angered by her upcoming marriage - a marriage she had no say in. So she runs (with her best friend Pauline) and becomes a bar maid.
There she is joined by the two men following her: Rafe and Kaden. One is the prince she is supposed to marry, the other is an assassin from a third country sent to prevent the alliance. The narrative goes through hoops with the point of view to obscure which is which, but it's not that hard to figure out. I thought it was a bit of trickery that didn't add much to the story.
I don't think KISS OF DECEPTION will convert people who are tired of love triangles. Especially since it doesn't make that much sense for the assassin to be that soft hearted. But for those who can stomach them, Lia is a terrific heroine. She honestly adapts pretty well to a much smaller life, although she is haunted by the knowledge that she has a duty that is going unfulfilled. She has to find a balance between herself and her country.
I'm also intrigued by the world presented in KISS OF DECEPTION. It's a historical-type fantasy world, with hints of magic around the edges. As a First Daughter, Lia is supposed to have a magical gift, but she's never felt she had one. The politics between the three countries aren't the focus, but they do add a bit of flavor. I'm ready for the assassin's country to become more defined in the next book.
KISS OF DECEPTION does have a cliffhanger ending, which annoyed me. But Pearson's writing is so good that I'll still be back for more. This looks to be the beginning of a great series, one that will appeal to fans of Megan Whalen Turner.