The Kiss of Deception | Thoughts
I didn't go into this with high expectations (sorry), and therefore was not let down all too much. I did hope to be pleasantly surprised, but unfortunately got more or less what I expected.
There is potential, I think, for the story, were it not bogged down by the rushed romances. The entire first half is focused on Princess Lia acting as a serving girl in a small fishing town after she's fled an arranged marriage. The jolted prince (handsome #1) and an assassin (handsome #2) track her down to confront and kill her, only to both decide against their original missions the moment they see her.
Like, the instant they see her.
There are some pretty big leaps here, which I was willing to overlook if it meant the plot was to become more detailed and we needed to move quickly over the pesky setup. Mainly, it's incredibly convenient that the prince and assassin just happen to run into each other outside the inn in which Lia works, even more so that they both decide to be mates right off the bat and eat and room together for the rest of their stay in the village. As I said, I was willing to overlook the stretch if it meant we'd be getting in deeper with character and relationship development, but sadly that's about as much explanation as anything in the story gets. There's a great opportunity for world-building here with tensions and politics, but we're forced to instead endure pages and pages of "which boy do I like" and "why doesn't he like me back." Ugh.
Now, I'm all for romance - and it's not even that the scenes between Lia and both admirers are bad. It's that they are way, way, waaayyyy too rushed. As a writer, I know it's exhilarating to write the fun stuff and it can be easy to forget to give enough time and attention to the build up. BUT DAMNIT, IT HAS TO BE DONE! You CANNOT just jump at high-speed between each fun encounter with barely a few sentences between to lead up to the emotion you are trying to convey when you get there! There has to be anticipation, and with these characters there just wasn one. It came off sappy and unbelievable, and readers cannot be expected to care when they're not given proper time to develop attachments to any of the characters.
That being my main problem with this book, I was almost going to put it on-hold when I reached the middle and things got interesting. First, I was shocked that the author managed to dupe me with (view spoiler) and I'll say that bit of cleverness got The Kiss of Deception an extra star right there.
The second half continued on much better than the first and we finally get a little away from the romance and focus on other aspects of the story. There are some strong points that could have seen the story flourish if they'd been focused on more. Lia's tattoo, for one - interesting how a simple dye somehow manages to permanently mark a single section on her shoulder. The political unrest between bordering countries (and did no one - not the author or any of the editors - think it was important to delve into why exactly the Vendans want Lia dead?)
Okay, with my main complaints aired I will say from my editing point of view that the writing was well-crafted and I found little to no fault in the style or technicalities. That in itself is enough to keep me hanging on through even the worst of plots (which this was in no way near the worst).
Overall, this book has me considering the boundaries of the genre "YA". The range can be so broad in plot and maturity, with the higher end of YA becoming more sophisticated and blurring the lines between Adult. In this respect, I would put The Kiss of Deception at a lower age range of the genre.