The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty | Review

Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: May 9, 2017
Source of my copy: Publisher
Series: Traitor's Trilogy #1
An obstinate girl who will not be married.
A soldier desperate to prove himself.
A kingdom on the brink of war.

With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.

As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

Surprising, riveting, and full of twists and turns, The Traitor's Kiss was a book I read within days. I'm giving it:
Going into The Traitor's Kiss, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it as much as I did. The plot line was intriguing, yes, with all of its discussion of espionage, deceit, and war in a medieval-like world, but the novel, of course, did not begin in the thick of all of that. It began with Sage Fowler stubbornly refusing her demeaning uncle's wishes for her to marry.

It took a while for me to like Sage Fowler. As much as I admired her for her love of teaching, her ability to lie to or deceive people so easily and willingly worried me and made me distrust her. However, 20 or so pages into the book, I found myself growing more and more curious about Sage, her perspective, and the kind of world she lived in. After losing her parents at a young age, she had to live with her uncle and his family, who belittled her for her refusal to ever marry and for the low type of marriage her parents had--one of love instead of the expected political or economical advantage. She becomes an apprentice for a matchmaker of high regard, and, although the position provides her with the acceptance and stability she needs--not to mention the opportunity to practice her spying skills--she is nonetheless deprived of her freedom as she must still submit to those who are above her. In the end, I liked Sage and her deceitful ways very much because, if she is to conform to society, then she can at least do so on her on terms for her own benefit, and a heroine who strives to pave her own way through society is always greatly appreciated.

With such a feminist heroine to boot, the world-building and plot line of The Traitor's Kiss interested me to no end. Erin Beaty's military background shined in the characters' constant planning and spying in anticipation and preparation for a war, and their tactics (e.g., a biological weapon to first weaken the numbers of their enemy and reversals of roles to spy and gain information from others) always surprised me and excited me. I also liked how marriage and matchmaking played a role in the novel to reveal the characters' vulnerabilities as well as strengths. Seeing all those matches, both of those for social gain and of those for sincere love, and all the researching and, yes, spying that went into them was an interesting take on what is often debated and frowned upon. The setting reminded me a lot of the setting of Mary E. Pearson's The Remnant Chronicles, so it in itself didn't strike me as original, but the world and characters that inhabited it intrigued me. I wish the next book of Beaty's trilogy was out already so I can be back with Sage and her world; I miss it so much.

What also reminded me of Pearson's The Remnant Chronicles in The Traitor's Kiss was the romance. In the first book of Pearson's series, The Kiss of Deception, there is a love triangle between two boys and the heroine, but the boys remain anonymous and are only referred to by their occupation--Prince and Assassin--when the story goes to their perspective in the next chapter. Only until the heroine figures out which boy is which is their identity revealed, so even the reader does not know which boy is the prince and which boy is the assassin for the majority of the book. In Beaty's The Traitor's Kiss, there is no love triangle, but, because Sage and the "handsome soldier"--as the synopsis refers to him as--are both committing espionage, the true identity of the soldier is kept secret in the story until Sage herself finds out. Like in Pearson's novel, there is some switching of perspectives between Sage, the soldier, his comrades, and the antagonist, but all the spying and deceit in the novel makes the "handsome soldier" remain anonymous. I liked the romance in The Traitor's Kiss because it was gradual, very swoonworthy, and surprisingly quite heated, but all the anonymity seemed unnecessary. It added to the suspense in the novel, but, in hindsight, could have been done away with and the story would have been just the same.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Traitor's Kiss for all its action, espionage, and suspense. The world-building was very interesting and the heroine Sage became an unexpected book-friend. I liked the romance as well, but I wish it didn't have all the anonymity around the hero. I recommend The Traitor's Kiss for any who want a YA read that is fairly quick to get through but is not all fluff and for any who have read and liked a couple of Mary E. Pearson's books in The Remnant Chronicles but want something shorter. The Traitor's Kiss has much to offer in its plot, setting, characters, and romance, and it is a riveting read that is sure to satisfy.

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