Review: The Kiss of Deception and The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

ARC: 490 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Synopsis
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.


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(WARNING: The synopsis of The Heart of Betrayal spoils The Kiss of Deception in a BIG way. Read it only if you already read The Kiss of Deception.)
ARC: 473 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #2
Synopsis
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.


I went into Kiss of Deception knowing little to nothing about it save for what I got from the brief and vague synopsis that was on the back of my ARC copy and getting told from my sister that there's a mysterious love triangle in the book. Mostly intrigued by the mysterious love triangle and how that was going to play out, I picked up Kiss of Deception and hoped for the best. I was happy to find that it was a great read full of excitement and action, and so, when an ARC of Heart of Betrayal came in the mail the next day, I immediately picked it up and read more about the ever-growing and complexing web of deception that Lia, her friends, and her enemies were getting caught into.

I overall came to like both Kiss of Deception and Heart of Betrayal for their exciting plot and cast of characters. I'm giving them each

There's a lot of suspense and a lot of secrecy in the story of Lia and her quest to claim her freedom and uncover her gift as a seventeen-year-old jaded by traditions yet destined to save millions of lives. False identities are given, hearts are wielded and broken, vows are made and kept, and lives are threatened and ended as Lia, her friends, her family, and her enemies try to meet their individual goals and desires--forget, really, how others may feel and react. As became a common mantra among the characters in the Remnant Chronicles, "There are no rules when it comes to survival." This rule, with all the lies and deception that resulted from it, fascinated me to no end. I found it hard to understand the necessity of all the dishonesty, but at the same time, I could see myself acting the same way if put in each of the characters' position and considering their various backgrounds. Whether or not I fully agreed with the characters' actions, however, the game of survival and the battle for power made for a great and riveting storyline that intrigued me from the beginning of Kiss of Deception to the ending of Heart of Betrayal. I must already say, I'm looking forward to the last book of the series and seeing how everything, everything, comes to an end.

The characters of the Remnant Chronicles were so very interesting and realistic with their individual histories driving their present actions and making for some ill-intended and some well-intended relationships. I really liked how I got to know each character, garnering with Lia pieces of information on everyone to get a clear picture of each and figuring who we were--who she was--up against and allying with. I can't say I identified myself or aligned myself wholly with Lia or any of the other characters because by knowing them each so well made me see myself a little in each of them or at least sympathize with them. Don't get me wrong, their pasts were no excuse for what harm and evil they brewed thus far in the series, but, like any true human being, they were all flawed, angry, and scared in their own yet similar ways. Then, knowing how they are the way they are, I was even more fascinated by all the alliances and relationships that were made in Kiss of Deception and Heart of Betrayal. Those that were made with good intentions but had scary and deadly circumstances frightened me and sometimes even disgusted me; those that were made with genuine and true regard for each other helped me feel hopeful for and support those characters. No two characters in the Remnant Chronicles were so alike that it was loathsome, but rather each had their own personalities and set of values that drove them to do what they did throughout the story line. I invested much interest in how the cast of characters in Kiss of Deception and Heart of Betrayal acted and interacted.

The romance in Kiss of Deception was refreshingly unusual. I thought how Pearson didn't outright reveal which boy out of Rafe and Kaden was the prince and the assassin was cool and different. Even as some chapters of Kiss of Deception were told in the Prince's perspective or the Assassin's, Rafe's, or Kaden's, for the first half of the book, she kept these chapters open-ended enough for the reader to feel unsure of who was who and merely judge each boy by who they showed themselves to be with only their names associated with them. I had a hunch, but halfway through the book, when Rafe and Kaden's identities were finally revealed to the reader, I found that I was wrong. The mystery aspect of the love triangle contributed to Kiss of Deception's ideas of lies and identities as well as gave each boy some fair chance in the reader's mind before being judged and disliked. It was a really unusual and great way to put a love triangle in a story. 

However, the continuation of the romance in Heart of Betrayal was a little unsatisfying. By the end of Kiss of Deception, Lia has made a choice of which boy she really wants to be with, and as much as I highly approve of it, in Heart of Betrayal, I wasn't really convinced of her and her hero's love until the very end of the book. I know that in Heart of Betrayal the couple gets separated and must pretend as if they don't like each other to survive in the brutal and impoverish Venda and I know they each had a lot to consider and plan for to escape together from the foreign kingdom, but I just wasn't feeling it when the Iloveyou's came out. I rooted for them in Kiss of Deception and I rooted for them at the end of Heart of Betrayal, but for the majority of the latter book, I was unconvinced and almost leaned toward the other guy. Hopefully, in the third book of the Remnant Chronicles, Lia and her hero will be together more and I'll be swooning over their love once again.

All in all, Kiss of Deception and Heart of Betrayal were both really great reads with an exciting plot, an interesting set of characters, and a different take on love triangles. I highly recommend the two books to anyone who love their fantasy, mystery, love, and deception because the Remnant Chronicles is surely delivering on those so far. I can't wait to read the third and final book of this series. Please, Ms. Pearson, hurry with the final installment; I'm hoping for all the best for Lia and her companions.

2 comments

  1. I won't lie, I'm Team Assassin but I don't think I'm reading this series for the romance per se. I didn't really get into Kiss of Deception until the later half and it seems like things get even more complicated in Heart of Betrayal so I can't wait to see how they all struggle to survive!


    Lovely dual review!

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  2. i really, really need to read this series! but i think i'm going to wait until all the books are out. i don't think i can take the wait from what everyone is saying about this series.


    -michelle

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