July 7, 2015

Love, Deception & Danger

The Kiss of Deception book cover
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library || Hardcover

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

I'll admit to being less than impressed last year when I read The Kiss of Deception, and I explained my average sentiments in my review. I decided, on a whim, to reread before I gave the sequel a shot. And, it was, by far, one of the best reading choices I've made this year! Even though I still had a reservation or two, my second read of this series starter was much more enjoyable, and I'm glad for it.

WHEN I First Read

I got an ARC last year, and read it with Rachel of Hello, Chelly for our feature Friends with ARCs

WHAT I Remember

I remembered admiring Lia, even as I thought she got herself into situations that could have blown her cover. I remembered the two boys who start to fancy her, an assassin and a prince. I remember a twist that surprised me and an ending that ensured I would be interested in reading the next book. 

WHY I Wanted to Re-read

With The Kiss of Deception, I very nearly skipped out on a reread, but decided it would be good to familiarize myself with the lore and world before reading The Heart of Betrayal. I also wanted to give it a second shot and see if my feelings had changed, since I knew part of the plot already.

HOW I Felt after Re-reading

It's also such a lovely surprise to discover you love a book upon a re-read! I can happily say that my reading experience was definitely much more pleasant this time around. I was able to soak up more of the lore and culture, and appreciated the characters a bit more than I did at our first meeting. There were also still some surprises, as I'd forgotten some of the things that happened!

WOULD I Re-read Again

I probably will consider re-reading this one again when the last novel of the trilogy is out, if only so I can spend a little more time with this story and so that I can find more connections between all three.

[If you haven't yet read The Kiss of Deception, I'd stop here to prevent yourself from getting spoiled since the summary of The Heart of Betrayal already has a couple of spoilers.]

The Heart of Betrayal book cover
The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #2
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks!) || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.

It is quite rare for a second novel in a series to top its predecessor; rare, yes, but it does happen. The Heart of Betrayal is one such novel, as a matter of fact, impressive in storytelling, level of detail and character development. Lia’s story, intertwined so solidly with that of the assassin and the prince, continues with her captivity in the barbarian kingdom of Venda. It could well have become tiresome or repetitive, but Pearson has written Lia’s captivity as jam-packed with new knowledge, unexpected intrigue, snatches of romance and violent actions. 

I hold Lia in great esteem, because she demonstrates so much courage, cleverness and cheekiness. She has a fierceness that constantly bubbles beneath her surface, tempered by instinct and growing wisdom; she has a heart that keenly feels for the victims of an iron rule, one that leads her to fight for justice and inspire hope. Lia plays the game well, cleverly hiding her own plots and outsmarting the people who continue to attempt to subdue her as she navigates life in enemy territory. There are many unexpected events, and certainly not all of them are pleasant, but Lia doesn’t let that deter her from her ultimate goal of escape.

Pearson does not only allow us a glimpse of the new, strong Lia that helms this story. She develops the secondary characters, from villain to comrade, and none moreso than Kaden and Rafe. Kaden, the assassin, is torn between his loyalty to Venda and the Komizar, a loyalty that’s borne out of his difficult past, and his love for Lia, which develops because of his admiration for who she is. Rafe, the prince, is determined to find a way out for him and Lia, so ardent in his feelings for her and clever in how he handles their enemies. It was a treat to get to know them better, to see their relationships and their characters in a clearer light with the chapters from their perspectives.

All in all, Pearson delivers a blow to the feels with The Heart of Betrayal. Each chapter builds up the stakes for Lia and Rafe; but even as readers will worry for them, they will also be pleased to be learning more about the lore and the setting with the details that are revealed in this novel. It crescendos to the final few chapters, before ringing out with a single, definitive note that marks the end – and what a powerful, emotional note it is. With its fast pace, heavy emotion and the way that it makes the reader feel acutely his tension and nerves, The Heart of Betrayal is, without a doubt, a most excellent sequel.


  1. Kristin @ Simply BookishThingsJuly 7, 2015 at 5:32 AM

    So glad to hear that you enjoyed re-reading The Kiss of Deception! I still haven't read it yet, I know I know I'm so ashameddddd. BUT I will, one day.

  2. Danielle @ Love at First PageJuly 7, 2015 at 10:34 PM

    I think I'm going to take a chance and read this series! I'm worried I'll be annoyed by the love triangle, but friends keep assuring me it's not really one.
    Anyway, that's always a good thing when you love a book even more after re-reading it. And I love that Lia has grown to be so strong through the second book.
    Lovely review, A!

  3. I read Kiss of Deception some time ago and can't wait to get my hands on The Heart of Betrayal! I'm really looking forward to the development of Lia and Rafe's relationship, bring on those swoon scenes. Great review! :)

  4. I loved this one too! Glad you're re-read ended up being better. Haven't read your Heart of Betrayal review yet since I;m not starting it until next week.

  5. Ah, I just got the HoB on audio and I can't wait to get to it. I keep hearing it's better than the first so I'm excited.

  6. Nicole @ The Quiet ConcertJuly 12, 2015 at 10:34 AM

    I LOVE your description of Lia!!! This is such a beautiful review for the HoB - you seriously amaze me with your words sometimes! I loved this book and I am so happy that your reread of The Kiss of Deception was a success!

  7. I'm so glad you liked what I had to say about Lia & The Heart of Betrayal! You're the sweetest <3 I'm really happy too, and I'm hoping I love the third as much as I loved HOB.

  8. I hope you enjoy it, Vi! It really is better than the first, so much so that I'm now completely invested in this series.

  9. I hope you enjoy The Heart of Betrayal, Tiffany! Suffice it to say that it completely blew me away, and I hope it does the same for you.

  10. Oh, there's definitely a swoony scene or two ;) And I hope you enjoy The Heart of Betrayal!

  11. I'll have to agree and say that it doesn't feel like a love triangle to me either. I do hope you give it a shot, and I hope you wind up enjoying it!

  12. It looks deceptively long, but it's actually a really quick read! I do hope you get around to reading it one day.


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