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The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles Series #1)
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The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles Series #1)

4.5 129
by Mary E. Pearson
 

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The first book of the New York Times bestselling Remnant Chronicles.

“Fantastical.” —USA Today

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

Overview

The first book of the New York Times bestselling Remnant Chronicles.

“Fantastical.” —USA Today

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 escapes 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.

The Kiss of Deception is the first book in Mary E. Pearson's New York Times bestselling young adult fantasy series Remnant Chronicles. The adventure continues in the New York Times bestseller, The Heart of Betrayal, and comes to an epic conclusion in The Beauty of Darkness.

Praise for The Kiss of Deception:

“A deeply satisfying, intricately plotted fantasy where no one—no one—is quite what they seem. . . . A thoroughly engrossing read—I couldn't put it down!” —Robin LaFevers, New York Times–bestselling author of Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph

A sumptuous fantasy.” —Chicago Tribune

“This is the kind of story I love—a heart-pounding tale of magic and murder, betrayal and romance set in a richly imagined fantasy landscape.” —Cindy Williams Chima, New York Times–bestselling author of the Seven Realms and the Heir Chronicles

Extraordinary . . . masterfully crafted.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Kiss of Deception has it all--beautiful writing, heart-pounding suspense, a fiery princess, and an epic romance that'll make you swoon. This is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year!” —Alyson Noël, #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Immortals

“In The Kiss of Deception, a new realm is masterfully created, featuring court intrigue, feuding nations, breathtaking landscapes, and the gift of sight. Fans of the Game of Thrones series will enjoy the magic and fantasy in this timeless dystopian world.” —VOYA

"Gripping, urgent, and highly appealing." —School Library Journal

"Pearson (the Jenna Fox Chronicles) is off to an extraordinary start with her fantasy series, the Remnant Chronicles, creating an alluring world and romance that's ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore and Megan Whalen Turner." —Publishers Weekly

"Pearson offers readers a wonderfully full-bodied story: harrowing, romantic, and full of myth and memory, fate and hope. . . . This has the sweep of an epic tale, told with some twists." —Booklist, starred review

"A marvelous new fantasy series that is sure to find an audience with devotees of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games and John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice books (Philomel). Romance, adventure, mysticism--this book has it all and it just may be the next YA blockbuster." —School Library Journal, starred review

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 05/05/2014
Lia is a young princess doomed to an arranged marriage with an unknown prince in another kingdom, their union an instrument of a needed alliance. On the day of her wedding, Lia flees with a trusted friend, Pauline, traveling until they reach a seaside town where Lia assumes a life as a barmaid at a local inn, reveling in her newfound anonymity. After two handsome young men, Rafe and Kaden, arrive at the inn, Lia is taken with both, and they with her; readers, unlike Lia, know that one is an assassin sent to kill her, the other, the prince she jilted. Pearson (the Jenna Fox Chronicles) is off to an extraordinary start with her fantasy series, the Remnant Chronicles, creating an alluring world and romance that’s ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore and Megan Whalen Turner. Peppered with excerpts from sacred texts and traditional songs, the novel has a formidable heroine at its core, who is as quick with a knife as she is to laugh or cry. Pearson maintains the mystery of Rafe and Kaden’s identities, pulling readers through this masterfully crafted story. Ages 14–up. (July)
#1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Alyson Noël

The Kiss of Deception has it all--beautiful writing, heart-pounding suspense, a fiery princess, and an epic romance that'll make you swoon. This is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year!
New York Times–bestselling author of Grave M Robin LaFevers

The Kiss of Deception is a deeply satisfying, intricately plotted fantasy where no one--no one--is quite what they seem. Full of lush writing and rich, complex characters, readers will quickly become enmeshed in the intricate web of lies that have been woven into the very fabric of the kingdom itself. A thoroughly engrossing read--I couldn't put it down!
New York Times–bestselling author of the Sev Cinda Williams Chima

This is the kind of story I love--a heart-pounding tale of magic and murder, betrayal and romance set in a richly imagined fantasy landscape.
VOYA, August 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 3) - Ann McDuffie
A first daughter in a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia rebels against her preordained role. Angry at being forced to marry a man she has never met, she runs away on the day of her wedding. Smart and resourceful Lia and her lady’s maid travel across the kingdom to start a life disguised as serving girls at a village inn. Meanwhile, two handsome men set out to track Lia down—the jilted prince and an assassin hired to kill her. Feeling safe in her new role, Lia does not realize that the handsome farmer and fur trader vying for her attention recognize her as the runaway princess. Not the least bit suspicious, Lia begins to fall for both men. A surprising twist reveals that the reader has been misled as to the identity of the two suitors. Lia is kidnapped, and a harrowing cross-country journey ensues. As the title implies, deception abounds in this captivating story. Instead of devolving into a predictable love triangle, the story delivers enough plot turns to appeal to a range of readers. Interspersed with verses from sacred texts, the novel presents a fascinating backstory and complex characters. Only a minor lapse is Lia’s naiveté when dealing with her two suitors. In The Kiss Of Deception, a new realm is masterfully created, featuring court intrigue, feuding nations, breathtaking landscapes, and the gift of sight. Fans of the Game of Thrones series will enjoy the magic and fantasy in this timeless dystopian world. Reviewer: Ann McDuffie; Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
★ 07/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—This genre-bending novel begins with 17-year-old Princess Lia, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan, about to undergo a ceremony of preparation for her wedding to the prince of Dalbreck, a man she has not yet met but already loathes. Rather than follow the demands of her father and the expectations of her mother, Lia and her maid, Pauline, slip away before the wedding can take place and travel to the coastal town of Terravin. Disguised as tavern maids, the teens manage to remain hidden until two strangers come to town; young men, each with their own agenda—one the prince Lia should have married, one an assassin bent on killing her. Pearson, author of the popular "Jenna Fox Chronicles" (Holt), has created the first in a marvelous new fantasy series that is sure to find an audience with devotees of Suzanne Collins's "The Hunger Games" and John Flanagan's "Ranger's Apprentice" books (Philomel). Romance, adventure, mysticism—this book has it all and it just may be the next YA blockbuster.—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK
Kirkus Reviews
2014-05-14
There are two sides to every story—unless there are three.Unwilling to marry a foreign prince she's never seen to secure a treaty between nations, Lia bolts from her father's castle on the wedding day. She's the king's First Daughter, but she won't tolerate an arranged life, no matter how old the tradition. She settles in a fishing village and works, mostly incognito, at an inn. Lia narrates in the first person, but so do two others: the jilted Prince, intrigued by and resentful at her flight, and the Assassin, sent from a third land to kill her. The boys converge on the inn and enter posing as friends, neither knowing the other's identity, each using the ruse to his own ends. As the text shifts to labeling each boy's chapters by name rather than noun, Pearson plants more red herrings than truthful hints about which boy is which; some readers may guess right, while others will have it wrong until the explicit reveal. Post-reveal, the novel shifts to classic fantasy fare: travels across rough terrain; death, danger, kidnapping; romanticized Romany-esque wanderers; epic love; a magical gift of "listening without ears [and] seeing without eyes." A bold ending whets appetites for the next installment, in which, readers will hope, the assassin will become a less cryptic character.Slightly uneven but rich and exciting throughout. (map) (Fantasy. 14-17)
From the Publisher

Praise for The Kiss of Deception:

The Kiss of Deception has it all--beautiful writing, heart-pounding suspense, a fiery princess, and an epic romance that'll make you swoon. This is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year!” —Alyson Noël, #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Immortals

“In The Kiss of Deception, a new realm is masterfully created, featuring court intrigue, feuding nations, breathtaking landscapes, and the gift of sight. Fans of the Game of Thrones series will enjoy the magic and fantasy in this timeless dystopian world.” —VOYA

"Gripping, urgent, and highly appealing." —School Library Journal

"Pearson (the Jenna Fox Chronicles) is off to an extraordinary start with her fantasy series, the Remnant Chronicles, creating an alluring world and romance that's ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore and Megan Whalen Turner." —Publishers Weekly

"Pearson offers readers a wonderfully full-bodied story: harrowing, romantic, and full of myth and memory, fate and hope. . . . This has the sweep of an epic tale, told with some twists." —Booklist, starred review

"A marvelous new fantasy series that is sure to find an audience with devotees of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games and John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice books (Philomel). Romance, adventure, mysticism--this book has it all and it just may be the next YA blockbuster." —School Library Journal, starred review

"After her strong Jenna Fox series, Pearson adeptly switches gears here from science fiction to fantasy, but her ability to write a romance featuring complex characters and a strong plot remains constant." —The Horn Book

The Kiss of Deception is a deeply satisfying, intricately plotted fantasy where no one--no one--is quite what they seem. Full of lush writing and rich, complex characters, readers will quickly become enmeshed in the intricate web of lies that have been woven into the very fabric of the kingdom itself. A thoroughly engrossing read--I couldn't put it down!” —Robin LaFevers, New York Times–bestselling author of Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph

“This is the kind of story I love--a heart-pounding tale of magic and murder, betrayal and romance set in a richly imagined fantasy landscape.” —Cinda Williams Chima, New York Times–bestselling author of the Seven Realms and the Heir Chronicles

“Peppered with excerpts from sacred texts and traditional songs, the novel has a formidable heroine at its core, who is as quick with a knife as she is to laugh or cry. Pearson maintains the mystery of Rafe and Kaden's identities, pulling readers through this masterfully crafted story.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Pearson's first book in her Remnant Chronicles is thrilling. Readers will be hooked from the first page to the last and will find themselves eagerly anticipating the next installment. Pearson pairs a rich and varied plot with a fiery and headstrong heroine.” —Romantic Times

“Mystery, romance, betrayal, redemption: There's plenty to hook readers in to this installment of Lia's saga and make them impatient for the volumes to come.” —Chicago Tribune

“Pearson's writing is beautiful, and her ability to twist a plot into knots keeps the reader wanting more.” —BookPage

“This thick book is fantastical and interesting (with a bit of mystery thrown in!). . . .There's a lot of mystery that spices up the book. It's not all about the mystery, but it's on the peripheral always, which makes it that much more interesting.” —USA Today

“Lia herself is a likeable heroine, and the selfishness in her act of leaving a kingdom in shambles for some future love is negated by her obvious naivete about political strategies and romantic relationships . . . Most intriguing are the two love interests, though, partly because of the way Pearson structures their narrating chapters.” —BCCB

Rich and exciting . . . a bold ending whets appetites for the next installment.” —Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805099232
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
07/08/2014
Series:
Remnant Chronicles Series , #1
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
14,240
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.70(d)
Lexile:
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Today was the day a thousand dreams would die and a single dream would be born.

The wind knew. It was the first of June, but cold gusts bit at the hilltop citadelle as fiercely as deepest winter, shaking the windows with curses and winding through drafty halls with warning whispers. There was no escaping what was to come.

For good or bad, the hours were closing in. I closed my eyes against the thought, knowing that soon the day would cleave in two, forever creating the before and after of my life, and it would happen in one swift act that I could no more alter than the color of my eyes.

I pushed away from the window, fogged with my own breath, and left the endless hills of Morrighan to their own worries. It was time for me to meet my day.

The prescribed liturgies passed as they were ordained, the rituals and rites as each had been precisely laid out, all a testament to the greatness of Morrighan and the Remnant from which it was born. I didn’t protest. By this point, numbness had overtaken me, but then midday approached, and my heart galloped again as I faced the last of the steps that kept here from there.

I lay naked, facedown on a stone-hard table, my eyes focused on the floor beneath me while strangers scraped my back with dull knives. I remained perfectly still, even though I knew the knives brushing my skin were held with cautious hands. The bearers were well aware that their lives depended on their skill. Perfect stillness helped me hide the humiliation of my nakedness as strange hands touched me.

Pauline sat nearby watching, probably with worried eyes. I couldn’t see her, only the slate floor beneath me, my long dark hair tumbling down around my face in a swirling black tunnel that blocked the world out—except for the rhythmic rasp of the blades.

The last knife reached lower, scraping the tender hollow of my back just above my buttocks, and I fought the instinct to pull away, but I finally flinched. A collective gasp spread through the room.

“Be still!” my aunt Cloris admonished.

I felt my mother’s hand on my head, gently caressing my hair. “A few more lines, Arabella. That’s all.”

Even though this was offered as comfort, I bristled at the formal name my mother insisted on using, the hand-me-down name that had belonged to so many before me. I wished that at least on this last day in Morrighan, she’d cast formality aside and use the one I favored, the pet name my brothers used, shortening one of my many names to its last three letters. Lia. A simple name that felt truer to who I was.

The scraping ended. “It is finished,” the First Artisan declared. The other artisans murmured their agreement.

I heard the clatter of a tray being set on the table next to me and whiffed the overpowering scent of rose oil. Feet shuffled around to form a circle—my aunts, mother, Pauline, others who’d been summoned to witness the task—and mumbled prayers were sung. I watched the black robe of the priest brush past me, and his voice rose above the others as he drizzled the hot oil on my back. The artisans rubbed it in, their practiced fingers sealing in the countless traditions of the House of Morrighan, deepening the promises written upon my back, heralding the commitments of today and ensuring all their tomorrows.

They can hope, I thought bitterly as my mind jumped out of turn, trying to keep order to the tasks still before me, the ones written only on my heart and not a piece of paper. I barely heard the utterances of the priest, a droning chant that spoke to all of their needs and none of my own.

I was only seventeen. Wasn’t I entitled to my own dreams for the future?

“And for Arabella Celestine Idris Jezelia, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan, the fruits of her sacrifice and the blessings of…”

He prattled on and on, the endless required blessings and sacraments, his voice rising, filling the room, and then when I thought I could stand no more, his very words pinching off my airways, he stopped, and for a merciful sweet moment, silence rang in my ears. I breathed again, and then the final benediction was given.

“For the Kingdoms rose out of the ashes of men and are built on the bones of the lost, and thereunto we shall return if Heaven wills.” He lifted my chin with one hand, and with the thumb of his other hand, he smudged my forehead with ashes.

“So shall it be for this First Daughter of the House of Morrighan,” my mother finished, as was the tradition, and she wiped the ashes away with an oil-dipped cloth.

I closed my eyes and lowered my head. First Daughter. Both blessing and curse. And if the truth be known, a sham.

My mother laid her hand on me again, her palm resting on my shoulder. My skin stung at her touch. Her comfort came too late. The priest offered one last prayer in my mother’s native tongue, a prayer of safekeeping that, oddly, wasn’t tradition, and then she drew her hand away.

More oil was poured, and a low, haunting singsong of prayers echoed through the cold stone chamber, the rose scent heavy on the air and in my lungs. I breathed deeply. In spite of myself, I relished this part, the hot oils and warm hands kneading compliance into knots that had been growing inside me for weeks. The velvet warmth soothed the sting of acid from the lemon mixed with dye, and the flowery fragrance momentarily swept me away to a hidden summer garden where no one could find me. If only it were that easy.

Again, this step was declared finished, and the artisans stepped back from their handiwork. There was an audible gathering of breath as the final results on my back were viewed.

I heard someone shuffle closer. “I daresay he won’t be looking long upon her back with the rest of that view at his disposal.” A titter ran through the room. Aunt Bernette was never one to restrain her words, even with a priest in the room and protocol at stake. My father claimed I got my impulsive tongue from her, though today I’d been warned to control it.

Pauline took my arm and helped me to rise. “Your Highness,” she said as she handed me a soft sheet to wrap around myself, sparing what little dignity I had left. We exchanged a quick knowing glance, which bolstered me, and then she guided me to the full-length mirror, giving me a small silver hand mirror, that I might view the results too. I swept my long hair aside and let the sheet fall enough to expose my lower back.

The others waited in silence for my response. I resisted drawing in a breath. I wouldn’t give my mother that satisfaction, but I couldn’t deny that my wedding kavah was exquisite. It did indeed leave me in awe. The ugly crest of the Kingdom of Dalbreck had been made startlingly beautiful, the snarling lion tamed on my back, the intricate designs gracefully hemming in his claws, the swirling vines of Morrighan weaving in and out with nimble elegance, spilling in a V down my back until the last delicate tendrils clung and swirled in the gentle hollow of my lower spine. The lion was honored and yet cleverly subdued.

My throat tightened, and my eyes stung. It was a kavah I might have loved … might have been proud to wear. I swallowed and imagined the prince when the vows were complete and the wedding cloak lowered, gaping with awe. The lecherous toad. But I gave the artisans their due.

“It is perfection. I thank you, and I’ve no doubt the Kingdom of Dalbreck will from this day forward hold the artisans of Morrighan in highest esteem.” My mother smiled at my effort, knowing that these few words from me were hard-won.

And with that, everyone was ushered away, the remaining preparations to be shared only with my parents, and Pauline, who would assist me. My mother brought the white silk underdress from the wardrobe, a mere wisp of fabric so thin and fluid it melted across her arms. To me it was a useless formality, for it covered very little, being as transparent and helpful as the endless layers of tradition. The gown came next, the back plunging in the same V so as to frame the kavah honoring the prince’s kingdom and displaying his bride’s new allegiance.

My mother tightened the laces in the hidden structure of the dress, pulling it snug so the bodice appeared to effortlessly cling to my waist even without fabric stretching across my back. It was an engineering feat as remarkable as the great bridge of Golgata, maybe more so, and I wondered if the seamstresses had cast a bit of magic into the fabric and threads. It was better to think on these details than what the short hour would bring. My mother turned me ceremoniously to face the mirror.

Despite my resentment, I was hypnotized. It was truly the most beautiful gown I had ever seen. Stunningly elegant, the dense Quiassé lace of local lace makers was the only adornment around the dipping neckline. Simplicity. The lace flowed in a V down the bodice to mirror the cut of the back of the dress. I looked like someone else in it, someone older and wiser. Someone with a pure heart that held no secrets. Someone … not like me.

I walked away without comment and stared out the window, my mother’s soft sigh following on my heels. In the far distance, I saw the lone red spire of Golgata, its single crumbling ruin all that remained of the once massive bridge that spanned the vast inlet. Soon, it too would be gone, swallowed up like the rest of the great bridge. Even the mysterious engineering magic of the Ancients couldn’t defy the inevitable. Why should I try?

My stomach lurched, and I shifted my gaze closer to the bottom of the hill, where wagons lumbered on the road far below the citadelle, heading toward the town square, perhaps laden with fruit, or flowers, or kegs of wine from the Morrighan vineyards. Fine carriages pulled by matching ribboned steeds dotted the lane as well.

Maybe in one of those carriages, my oldest brother, Walther, and his young bride, Greta, sat with fingers entwined on their way to my wedding, scarcely able to break their gazes from each other. And maybe my other brothers were already at the square, flashing their smiles at young girls who drew their fancy. I remembered seeing Regan, dreamy-eyed and whispering to the coachman’s daughter just a few days ago in a dark hallway, and Bryn dallied with a new girl each week, unable to settle on just one. Three older brothers I adored, all free to fall in love and marry anyone they chose. The girls free to choose as well. Everyone free, including Pauline, who had a beau who would return to her at month’s end.

“How did you do it, Mother?” I asked, still staring at the passing carriages below. “How did you travel all the way from Gastineux to marry a toad you didn’t love?”

“Your father is not a toad,” my mother said sternly.

I whirled to face her. “A king maybe, but a toad nonetheless. Do you mean to tell me that when you married a stranger twice your age, you didn’t think him a toad?”

My mother’s gray eyes rested calmly on me. “No, I did not. It was my destiny and my duty.”

A weary sigh broke from my chest. “Because you were a First Daughter.”

The subject of First Daughter was one my mother always cleverly steered away from. Today, with only the two of us present and no other distractions, she couldn’t turn away. I watched her stiffen, her chin rising in good royal form. “It’s an honor, Arabella.”

“But I don’t have the gift of First Daughter. I’m not a Siarrah. Dalbreck will soon discover I’m not the asset they suppose me to be. This wedding is a sham.”

“The gift may come in time,” she answered weakly.

I didn’t argue this point. It was known that most First Daughters came into their gift by womanhood, and I had been a woman for four years now. I’d shown no signs of any gift. My mother clung to false hopes. I turned away, looking out the window again.

“Even if it doesn’t come,” my mother continued, “the wedding is no sham. This union is about far more than just one asset. The honor and privilege of a First Daughter in a royal bloodline is a gift in itself. It carries history and tradition with it. That’s all that matters.”

“Why First Daughter? Can you be sure the gift isn’t passed to a son? Or a Second Daughter?”

“It’s happened, but … not to be expected. And not tradition.”

And is it tradition to lose your gift too? Those unsaid words hung razor sharp between us, but even I couldn’t wound my mother with them. My father hadn’t consulted with her on matters of state since early in their marriage, but I had heard the stories of before, when her gift was strong and what she said mattered. That is, if any of it was even true. I wasn’t sure anymore.

I had little patience for such gibberish. I liked my words and reasoning simple and straightforward. And I was so tired of hearing about tradition that I was certain if the word were spoken aloud one more time, my head would explode. My mother was from another time.

I heard her approach and felt her warm arms circle about me. My throat swelled. “My precious daughter,” she whispered against my ear, “whether the gift comes or doesn’t come is of little matter. Don’t worry yourself so. It’s your wedding day.”

To a toad. I had caught a glimpse of the King of Dalbreck when he came to draw up the agreement—as if I were a horse given in trade to his son. The king was as decrepit and crooked as an old crone’s arthritic toe—old enough to be my own father’s father. Hunched and slow, he needed assistance up the steps to the Grand Hall. Even if the prince was a fraction of his age, he’d still be a withered, toothless fop. The thought of him touching me, much less—

I shivered at the thought of bony old hands caressing my cheek or shriveled sour lips meeting mine. I kept my gaze fixed out the window, but saw nothing beyond the glass. “Why could I not have at least inspected him first?”

My mother’s arms dropped from around me. “Inspect a prince? Our relationship with Dalbreck is already tenuous at best. You’d have us insult their kingdom with such a request when Morrighan is hoping to create a crucial alliance?”

“I’m not a soldier in Father’s army.”

My mother drew closer, brushing my cheek, and whispered, “Yes, my dear. You are.”

A chill danced down my spine.

She gave me a last squeeze and stepped back. “It’s time. I’ll go retrieve the wedding cloak from the vault,” she said, and left.

I crossed the room to my wardrobe and flung open the doors, sliding out the bottom drawer and lifting a green velvet pouch that held a slim jeweled dagger. It had been a gift on my sixteenth birthday from my brothers, a gift I was never allowed to use—at least openly—but the back of my dressing chamber door bore the gouged marks of my secret practice. I snatched a few more belongings, wrapping them in a chemise, and tied it all with ribbon to secure it.

Pauline returned from dressing herself, and I handed her the small bundle.

“I’ll take care of it,” she said, a jumble of nerves at the last-minute preparations. She left the chamber just as my mother returned with the cloak.

“Take care of what?” my mother asked.

“I gave her a few more things I want to take with me.”

“The belongings you need were sent off in trunks yesterday,” she said as she crossed the room toward my bed.

“There were a few we forgot.”

She shook her head, reminding me there was precious little room in the carriage and that the journey to Dalbreck was a long one.

“I’ll manage,” I answered.

She carefully laid the cloak across my bed. It had been steamed and hung in the vault so no fold or wrinkle would tarnish its beauty. I ran my hand along the short velvet nap. The blue was as dark as midnight, and the rubies, tourmalines, and sapphires circling the edges were its stars. The jewels would prove useful. It was tradition that the cloak should be placed on the bride’s shoulders by both her parents, and yet my mother had returned alone.

“Where is—” I started to ask, but then I heard an army of footsteps echoing in the hallway. My heart sank lower than it already was. He wasn’t coming alone, even for this. My father entered the chamber flanked by the Lord Viceregent on one side, the Chancellor and the Royal Scholar on the other, and various minions of his cabinet parading on their heels. I knew the Viceregent was only doing his job—he had pulled me aside shortly after the documents were signed and told me that he alone had argued against the marriage—but he was ultimately a rigid man of duty like the rest of them. I especially disliked the Scholar and Chancellor, as they were well aware, but I felt little guilt about it, since I knew the feeling was mutual. My skin crawled whenever I neared them, as though I had just walked through a field of blood-sucking vermin. They, more than anyone, were probably glad to be rid of me.

My father approached, kissed both of my cheeks, and stepped back to look at me, finally breathing a hearty sigh. “As beautiful as your mother on our wedding day.”

I wondered if the unusual display of emotion was for the benefit of those who looked on. I rarely saw a moment of affection pass between my mother and father, but then in a brief second I watched his eyes shift from me to her and linger there. My mother stared back at him, and I wondered what passed between them. Love? Or regret at love lost and what might have been? The uncertainty alone filled a strange hollow within me, and a hundred questions sprang to my lips, but with the Chancellor and Scholar and the impatient entourage looking on, I was reluctant to ask any of them. Maybe that was my father’s intent.

The Timekeeper, a pudgy man with bulging eyes, pulled out his ever-present pocket watch. He and the others ushered my father around as if they were the ones who ruled the kingdom instead of the other way around. “We’re pressed for time, Your Majesty,” he reminded my father.

The Viceregent gave me a sympathetic glance but nodded agreement. “We don’t want to keep the royal family of Dalbreck waiting on this momentous occasion. As you well know, Your Majesty, it wouldn’t be well received.”

The spell and gaze were broken. My mother and father lifted the cloak and set it about my shoulders, securing the clasp at my neck, and then my father alone raised the hood over my head and again kissed each cheek, but this time with much more reserve, only fulfilling protocol. “You serve the Kingdom of Morrighan well on this day, Arabella.”

Lia.

He hated the name Jezelia because it had no precedent in the royal lineage, no precedent anywhere, he had argued, but my mother had insisted upon it without explanation. On this point she had remained unyielding. It was probably the last time my father conceded anything to her wishes. I never would have known as much if not for Aunt Bernette, and even she treaded carefully around the subject, still a prickly thorn between my parents.

I searched his face. The fleeting tenderness of just a moment past was gone, his thoughts already moving on to matters of state, but I held his gaze, hoping for more. There was nothing. I lifted my chin, standing taller. “Yes, I do serve the kingdom well, as I should, Your Majesty. I am, after all, a soldier in your army.”

He frowned and looked quizzically to my mother. Her head shook softly, silently dismissing the matter. My father, always the king first and father second, was satisfied with ignoring my remark, because as always, other matters did press. He turned and walked away with his entourage, saying he’d meet me at the abbey, his duty to me now fulfilled. Duty. That was a word I hated as much as tradition.

“Are you ready?” my mother asked when the others had left the room.

I nodded. “But I have to attend to a personal need before we leave. I’ll meet you in the lower hall.”

“I can—”

“Please, Mother—” My voice broke for the first time. “I just need a few minutes.”

My mother relented, and I listened to the lonely echo of her footsteps as she retreated down the hallway.

“Pauline?” I whispered, swiping at my cheeks.

Pauline entered my room through the dressing chamber. We stared at each other, no words necessary, clearly understanding what lay ahead of us, every detail of the day already wrestled with during a long, sleepless night.

“There’s still time to change your mind. Are you sure?” Pauline asked, giving me a last chance to back out.

Sure? My chest squeezed with pain, a pain so deep and real I wondered if hearts really were capable of breaking. Or was it fear that pierced me? I pressed my hand hard against my chest, trying to soothe the stab I felt there. Maybe this was the point of cleaving. “There’s no turning back. The choice was made for me,” I answered. “From this moment on, this is the destiny that I’ll have to live with, for better or worse.”

“I pray the better, my friend,” Pauline said, nodding her understanding. And with that, we hurried down the empty arched hallway toward the back of the citadelle and then down the dark servants’ stairway. We passed no one—everyone was either busy with preparations down at the abbey or waiting at the front of the citadelle for the royal procession to the square.

We emerged through a small wooden door with thick black hinges into blinding sunlight, the wind whipping at our dresses and throwing back my hood. I spotted the back fortress gate only used for hunts and discreet departures, already open as ordered. Pauline led me across a muddy paddock to the shady hidden wall of the carriage house where a wide-eyed stable boy waited with two saddled horses. His eyes grew impossibly wider as I approached. “Your Highness, you’re to take a carriage already prepared for you,” he said, choking on his words as they tumbled out. “It’s waiting by the steps at the front of the citadelle. If you—”

“The plans have changed,” I said firmly, and I gathered my gown up in great bunches so I could get a foothold in the stirrup. The straw-haired boy’s mouth fell open as he looked at my once pristine gown, the hem already sloshed with mud, now smearing my sleeves and lace bodice and, worse, the Morrighan jeweled wedding cloak. “But—”

“Hurry! A hand up!” I snapped, taking the reins from him.

He obeyed, helping Pauline in similar fashion.

“What shall I tell—”

I didn’t hear what else he said, the galloping hooves stampeding out all arguments past and present. With Pauline at my side, in one swift act that could never be undone, an act that ended a thousand dreams but gave birth to one, I bolted for the cover of the forest and never looked back.

Copyright © 2014 by Mary E. Pearson

Meet the Author

Mary E. Pearson is the author of many novels for teens, including the popular Jenna Fox trilogy and the New York Times bestselling Remnant Chronicles. She writes full-time from her home in Carlsbad, California, where she lives with her husband and two dogs.

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The Kiss of Deception 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 129 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was so confused as to who the prince and the assassin were. When it said Rafe and Kaden i was switching back and forth multiple times as to who i thought they were; it was confusing because the author switched back and forth by calling them assassin and prince or Kaden and Rafe. The details meant "help" distinguish them got switched around a lot. At times throughout the book i thought Rafe was the prince then the assassin in others parts and vice versa for Kaden. Other than that, i found the book entertaining and fun thanks to a strong thick headed woman. A refreshing twist from the usual meek, weak, fragile girl we're all used to.
MonicaEmme More than 1 year ago
I love this book completely. I so can't wait until the next! It had that Graceling feel to it. I could live in this world every day. It was one of those books that stays with you, and when you finish you want to just open back to the first page and start reading it all over again just so you can stay in it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once you start you cant stop
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The confusion between Rafe and Kaden is meant to keep the reader guessing. I had to know if she was falling for the prince or the assassin. I knew both were in love with her. How could they not be. She is strong, smart, kind, and powerful! Great characters!
Bria808 More than 1 year ago
Fantastic Read I absolutely loved it! As for the confusing parts, I understood why the author decided to take that approach. It was certainly a pleasant surprise for me. Lia is a wonderful character. She is relatable and courageous. I loved how the story not only wove together nicely, but also showed how our characters matured. Very nicely done and I can't wait until the next book comes out this July.  Happy Reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely just joined the list of all time favorite books, has a bit of something for everyone. Im even gonna buy the hard copy if I can get my hands on it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont know who to ship! I like both of the guys and hate both of them too and now i seriously just want to finish this series and write a teensy weensy lotta bit faster cause the SUSPENS is KILLING ME. I love that the prince's name is Jaxon and Kaden ha a cute name too. AGHH I FIND BOTH WORTHY OF FAGIRL ATTRACTION AND YET BOTH DESERVING A BIT OF FANGIRL CONTRADICTIVE HATE?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
May E. Pearson did a brilliant job of hiding & then revealing who was whom in this book. The reader is certain, at first, that Rafe is the Assassin, & the Prince is Kaden. I was confused when the reveal was made, but delighted when I discovered that as in real life, one can easily make assumptions on the "look" & "demeanor" of people. It caused me to sit back, consider & then connect the details of each description of the two main male characters inabling me to see how it actually made since that they were reversed. Bravo, Ms. Pearson! I am anxiously awaiting the sequel!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the character of Lia. Also like the twist of who is who, definitely got me. The book is so good it makes you want to immediately reread it! Can't wait for the next book in the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Action throughout the book and I loved that you were kept guessing on what was coming next. Easy read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The multiple perspectives kept the reader guessing who was the assassin and who was the prince. Once they are finally revealed the reader can reread the book in a whole new light. I was completely thrown off! From the secret meetings and stolen moments of affection, each character is completely developed and when all is about to be revealed the reader is still caught off guard. Best book I've read in a while!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is extremely good, some of the other comments are spoiler alerts so be careful. The identities of some of the characters are supposed to be unknown to the reader until the end. Otherwise the book is indeed a love triangle but a very good one and the way the book was set up allows never a dull moment! Its a must-read!
AwkwordlyEmma More than 1 year ago
This book was magnificent. I loved Lia, and I loved how she found a strong group of women to support her. I enjoyed both guys, and before we learned who was who, I definitely thought I knew who was the prince and who was the assassin! I didn't expect any of the twists, which made reading The Kiss of Deception all the more enjoyable. The worldbuilding is great. I still can't decide if this is fantasy or post-apocalyptic, although I think I'd prefer fantasy. In all of my reviews, I note inappropriate concept, and I'll do that here as well. The only thing that bothered me was some of the sexual content and references. I'm dying to get my hands on the sequel, and every day I had to wait to read The Kiss of Deception was worth it. This is definitely one of the best titles of 2014. It's a must-read for all lovers of YA fantasy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story! Loved the twists as I thought I had the guys straight but didn't. Love Lia, can't wait to read more about this girl's life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've never really been interested in books that includes kingdoms and royalty but this was a good book. Although it got confusing as to who the prince and the assassin were, I still liked the mystery as to who the princess was falling in love with. This is a really good book that I deeply recommend.
kdbee More than 1 year ago
Failing to have the gift of sight traditionally held by First Daughters, Lia is to be married to a prince from a nearby kingdom to forge an alliance. As she prepares the morning of her wedding, she waits until the one moment she can, and runs. Taking her best friend Pauline with her and they race to the coast to the town of Terravin. Chapter 3 intr oduces you to the Prince and Chapter 4 to the Assassin. What's intriguing is that when she meets them for the first time in the tavern, the author describes and names them but doesn't link who they are to their names. It's fun watching Lia learn how to live the life of a commoner but she is by no means a meek character. She is determined to live her life her way, loyal to those she loves, and has great strength. This is a very well written story, with a few twists to keep you guessing, hints of romance and leaves you wanting the next book right now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I broke one of my cardinal rules. I bought the first book in a series as a newly released book. I loved this book. I wish the second book was avaliable for pre-order, but sadly it is not even mentioned on the authors webpage. The book is a great read for any age.
Anonymous 8 days ago
It has been a long time since an authur has left me guessing! I enjoyed every word and I can't wait for more!
Anonymous 5 months ago
This book is amazing! Full of twists and turns that make you want more.
Reading_With_Cupcakes 6 months ago
I had been holding onto this book for a good while before I finally managed to pick it up and get it read. So what made me finally get to the point that I was ready to pick it up and read it? Mostly it was because this was someone else's unicorn of an ARC and I wanted to get it to her (I had gotten it in a trade myself), but also it was because I had kept hearing about this book. I kept hearing about it on Twitter. I kept seeing it make an appearance on Instagram. It just kept popping up all over the place. So, naturally, I had to pick it up and see for myself why this book kept being talked about and mentioned and photographed and all that jazz. Like normal, I had no idea really what it was about. I just knew that people liked it a lot. The book, it turns out, is about a princess who doesn't want to be forced into marriage by her father. So what does she do? She runs away right before her marriage. She doesn't go alone though. Her best friend (who also just happens to be a servant girl in her castle like home!) goes with her. They run to a port side town where they hope they will be able to go unnoticed by those around them and live the rest of their days all happy like and free from the pressures of what others want of them. Too bad our princess was followed. Not by one, but by 2 men. One wants to do her harm, the other wants to take her back. The fun part is...which one is which? The author doesn't tell us! We are left guessing and wondering throughout the majority of the book which guy is actually which! So clever. So evil. I mean, seriously, what if I choose the wrong guy? The pressure of it all! But it is pretty cool and I wasn't expecting to be in the middle of a giant guessing game of who is who, so mad props for that. What I wanted more of though? I wanted more magic. The magic that is in this book felt more like it was only a hint of it. Just barely there. Not really touched or used and I wanted to see more. Lots more. I like magic. If the world has magic in it, I want to see it. I don't want it to be under done and disappointing...but maybe in book 2 we will get more of the magic? I did appreciate that we were given a strong heroine that doesn't want to be pushed around by those around her. I hate when we have female characters that just do what everyone around them tells them to do or just sit in a corner freaking out because without the guidance of others they have no idea what they should do in any given situation. Do I use a fork or a spoon?!?!?! Someone please tell me!!! Ugh. Thankfully, The Kiss of Deception did not fall prey to that issue. That was nice and refreshing. All in all, I liked The Kiss of Deception. However, to me, it did not reach the hype that was built up for it... But when can a book ever truly reach the hype? I was at least not horribly disappointed and still enjoyed it quite a bit, which also means the hype didn't ruin it for me either. That is always good. Now to find time to get to book 2. That one is also sitting on myself waiting. Find more of my reviews here: http://readingwithcupcakes.blogspot.com/ This review is based on an ARC I received by trading with another book blogger. All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.
Anonymous 8 months ago
I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! It was adventurous with a hint of mystery in it. The romance made me not want to put the book down! Very fun and entertaining to read! Once you start you can't stop
Anonymous 10 months ago
I like the plot twist but when I first entered in the story I liked it so as i. Drew further I didn't really like it because of the ending if the chapters do . The writng is okay.
Anonymous 11 months ago
A book that draws you in to another world. Though I did manage to get some of the characters confused, it was easily righted. A book I enjoyed and i can't wait to start on the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PollyBennett More than 1 year ago
Wow this book chronicles the struggles and bravery of a young royal woman. I wasn't sure I was going to like it, but, it was a wonderful book, I hope the rest of the series is just as good.