Cover Image: The Traitor's Kiss

The Traitor's Kiss

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Member Reviews

The cover for this book was very lovely and drew me to it at first, plus the description promising a girl who refused to be married and was a spy of sorts? That sounded like it would be pretty interesting, combined with the fact that this girl's country is apparently on the brink of war. However, once I got to reading it, I found that it boring, dull, and had story lines that didn't make sense.

Let's start with Sage. She's the main female character, meant to be this strong person who is a spy for the matchmaker, enabling the woman to make stronger matches. However, the time jump between when she meets the matchmaker (as a candidate herself, which does NOT go well) and 5 months later when she's into her apprenticeship is quite awkward. When she's sent away from the initial meeting with Darnessa the Matchmaker, she's given the task to observe a visitor to her uncle's home to gauge her aptitude. We never find out how she did! One has to assume she did well to get the apprenticeship, but glossing over the whole event felt jarring. Plus, we never find out what Sage's uncle has to say about the apprenticeship when he was the one pushing for her to get married, not a peep!

Then there's the matter of espionage. Sage and Darnessa are escorting brides to the Concordium, a big meeting where they'll be matched. Escorting them are about 30 soldiers and some officers. Among these officers, multiple ones are engaged in using false names and alternate identities; starting early on in the book, this device felt problematic because it wasn't clear. I understand wanting to be mysterious for the sake of a spy novel, but there's mysterious and then plain messy. Not being able to keep a story line straight falls into the latter of the two.

 Speaking of the brides that Sage is traveling with, we hear almost nothing about them! There's one that's slightly mean to her (Jacqueline), one that's nice (Clare), and that is all we hear about nearly a dozen or so young women. They never factor into the story, really, other than being mentioned, and really the whole thing could have been done without them. If they were going to be mentioned as the reason for the journey, I would've expected to get to know them, at least the ones mentioned like Jacqueline or Clare, beyond the bare necessities we get (we hear a little of Clare's family, but not enough to really get to know her as a person).

40% of the way through the book I felt like I was dragging myself through the story and truly wanted to DNF it because I didn't care about anyone involved. There was anyone that was interesting, especially not the main character! Sage get's built up as this strong willed girl who won't be married, who's going to make a life for herself, and I'll bet you can guess what happens by the end: engagement! Like nothing up to this point mattered because that was going to be the end game anyway. I would've been more interested if she'd been one of the Concordium brides that fell into spying with the soldiers and found a way out of her arranged marriage.

The political intrigue in this book tried so hard and fell flat. There was plotting within the country with enemies that had been annexed some four decades ago, but the traitor was not a very bright man and ended up being an arrogant sod rather than someone I thought could pull anything off. The only thing he did that made me feel something other than boredom was hatred when he killed the 9 year old brother of the main male character. At that point I wanted to throw the book across the room. What was that for, really? It added nothing to the story because the character in question already had sufficient motivation to kill this man.

The Traitor's Kiss tried to be far too many things: a romance, a medieval political thriller, and other things I'm sure. I wouldn't recommend it because the writing got far too uninteresting much too quickly and never recovered.
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The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty is a young adult fantasy. It is the first book in the Traitor’s Trilogy, and it is one of my favorite reads of 2017! By far. I freakin’ loved this book. I wanted to re-read it immediately after I finished it. It actually took me 4 days to read because I kept forcing myself to stop because I didn’t want it to be over. I need the second book ASAP. (I have re-written this review twice now, because every time I look at it, it feels super gushy. But I’m not toning it down any further because I want to share my excitement for this book. I seriously loved it so much!)

The Traitor’s Kiss is the story of Sage Fowler, a young lady who ends up as a matchmaker’s apprentice/secret spy when she doesn’t wish to be wed herself. The book is told in multiple perspectives, including Sage’s, and some of the soldiers they encounter. Sage accompanies the matchmaker for her country along with lots of young ladies who wish to be matched at a grand event, where people from all countries come to be matched. The story develops on their journey to the event.

It is really hard to explain the magic that is The Traitor’s Kiss. I loved the mystery of it all. I loved Sage and I really, really loved Ash. The romance is incredibly swoon-worthy and epic. The characters are dynamic and excellent, the world building is rich and detailed and really well done, and I even loved all the military lingo and strategy that played into the storyline. I thought Erin Beaty did a great job of making all of the military tactics/strategy not only accessible and easy to understand, but also super interesting.

I have so much more to say about character specifics, but I will save them for later because I don’t want to spoil anyone, but I would love to chat about this book with anyone and everyone so comment below if you have read it!!

Bottom line: if you love YA fantasies that have excellent world building, great political and military intrigue and an epic-ly awesome romance, The Traitor’s Kiss is sure to be a favorite of yours. It certainly is a favorite of mine. The Traitor’s Kiss is one of my favorite reads of 2017. I am dying for more!
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An interesting retake on Mulan. I enjoyed the journey the MC went through. Though it was slow at times, I look forward to reading book 2.
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This book was so GOOD!!  Though part of it I thought there was a major typo but it all ended up being part of the story.  This one has a lot of intrigue and spy work going on.  So just because you think you know you don't!  At least not for a little while.  One person, I had pegged as a spy wasn't so there's that too.  The ending summed up very well and left us with a slight cliffhanger.  I am very happy that this is a series as I am so not done with this world and these characters.  The setting was pretty straight forward which was nice.  No pesky magic, millions of weird names, etc to remember how everything works.  It's here are the people, here is their world, and this is the situation. It was all done very well and I enjoyed the world the author created.

The characters were also very good.  I loved the banter between Sage and Ash as well as their romance.  I also loved the Matchmaker and I wish would have had a bigger part in the story as a whole.  She was one character that I so SO want a prequel story too! The side characters were also great although we only get to see/read about a few of them. I hope this gets expanded in the next book.

The story/plot of this one will make you laugh, cry, laugh, and then cry your eyes out as you will never be happy again.  Then just around the corner, you are bursting with the feels of happiness. So to say this book will take you on a rollercoaster of the feels is an understatement. This one also has something for everyone. It has a very nice historical setting, war, action, romance, and a very interesting hierarchy that parts of it will make you roll your eyes until you figure out what it all means.

I really enjoyed this one and I can't wait for the next two books!
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I need to pour myself a drink — not many books reduce me to desire alcohol consumption due to extreme irritation, but Traitor’s Kiss gets that dishonourable distinction from…pretty much page one. I should have known — I really should have known better.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t super-excited about this book; it didn't really seem like my cup of tea, but there was just enough in the description to make me think that, maybe, I’d be surprised. It’s happened before — c.f. something like Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones — and so, as always, I am ever the optimist, hoping that a book will exceed my initially low expectations.

Not only did Traitor’s Kiss fail to exceed my low expectations, it didn’t even manage to meet them. I don’t think there are enough negative words in the dictionary to express my disappointment, my irritation, and, by this point, my blistering fury with this novel. This is every young adult-fantasy trope I hate, rolled into one book, that doesn’t even have the decency to be, at the very least, marginally entertaining.

And the core problem lies in its protagonist. Sage is a terrible protagonist — I’m sorry, there’s no polite way for me to say this. She’s awful. Clearly the author wants her to seem “special” because, boy does she go out of her way to have Sage deliberately isolate herself from other characters. The amount of vitriolic “You other girls dress yourselves up so you are clearly vapid and shallow and I am better and smarter than all of you becuase I don’t”-girl-on-girl hate that makes up the entirety of Sage’s inner monologue and dialogue is both staggering and exhausting. It starts to feel like a personal attack from the author upon girls who either (a) like to put effort into their appearance and/or (b) have cleavage. 

Now, I’m certainly not particularly invested in my appearance unless it’s a “special occasion” or I’ve got some errant whim to exert effort, but I am definitely a gal with cleavage and, let me tell you, Ms. Beaty, my possession of cleavage — something I cannot control — and wearing of clothing that shows it off — not always something I can control, but usually a personal choice — doesn’t make me, in any way, supercilious, vapid, or unintelligent. My possession of breasts has no correlation whatsoever to my intellect. So what’s with Sage’s hatred? And what’s with reinforcing her attitude as “correct” by making Sage seem special and, therefore, better when in the perspective of male characters? Women can exert effort in their appearance while also wanting to wear trousers or ride horses or push themselves physically. I know plenty of incredibly strong woman who can be both tomboyish and dress to the nines in highly feminine styles, while also (shocker!) being fiercely intelligent and well-read.

Also Sage smells like sage. Someone, please, put me out of my misery right now.

And let’s talk about the writing. Well, first off, the plot is unbearably slow. Now, I don’t mind slower novels, especially if they’re doing interesting things with character development and world-building. Except that Traitor’s Kiss isn’t, and this book is a slog. As much as this novel promises betrayal and intrigue, you’re not going to find any of it here. I mean, if anything, it betrays you by thinking it might be interesting. It’s, truly, a masochistic endeavour, reading this book, begging for it to do something interesting or, at the very least, end soon so that you can be put out of your misery.

Or maybe that was just me.

I doesn't help that there were moments where Ms. Beaty actually wrote jump-cuts in the middle of chapters. I was so jarred by these, I actually flipped back and forth between my kindle-edition pages to make sure I hadn’t accidentally skipped a page. But, no, it’s true: she rights one scene going somewhere and suddenly jumps to something else without so much as a hint or even the decency of a chapter break.

This book is barely over 350 pages, but it feels like twice its length and I, for the life of me, cannot understand how anyone would want to read this unless they were (a) a fan of slipshod writing with poor world building and a special snowflake of a main character that has a vendetta upon the members of her own sex and/or (b) completely inebriated.
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I had a lotof trouble gettinginto this and eventually deemed it to not to be worth the effort. Its possible that i may try to read it again at a later date however, perhaps when i haven't already been inundated with many, better, fantasy novels!
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Wasn't able to fit this into my reading calendar. So sorry!
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This title was just not for me. Thank you for letting me read and review it even still.
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Sage is not a lady, her mother may have been high born but her father was common, and her prospects become limited when her uncle decides to marry her off. The matchmaker, however, offers Sage an alternative, to work as her secret assistant. Posing as a potential bride, Sage accompanies the brides-to-be and spies on them, and soon on the soldiers that accompany the ladies on their journey. As evidence of a plot to overthrow the king arise, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to spy for her kingdom. As Sage and the soldier grow closer, so does the danger, and Sage will soon uncover that not everything is as it seems. 

Great Fantasy read.
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This book is filled with mystery, intrigue and lots of secrets. As a matter of fact, I have a feeling that fans of “The Winner’s Trilogy” by Marie Rutkoski will absolutely love this book! It's a satisfying slow burn of a novel filled with intrigue, drama and swoons.
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Sage Fowler, 17, is an apprentice to a matchmaker.  She was taken on in part because she herself would not be much of a “threat” to matches proposed vis-a-vis other girls - she was an orphan with no property of her own, she wasn’t into dressing up or “acting like” a girl, and perhaps most importantly, she could not long maintain a subservient demeanor.

Her job is to help evaluate potential partners, which is especially important during the upcoming Concordium  during which many of the matches are made.  Because of recent unrest in the kingdom, the girls are to be escorted by a division of soldiers made up in part of members of the royal family traveling incognito.  They too are interested in surreptitiously evaluating people to see if they can ferret out the intentions of one of the hosts along the route, Duke Morrow D’Amiran.

Sage spends time with the army’s cart driver, Ash Carter, with both of them using the other to gather information.  They end up falling for each other, but it is based on a lie about who each of them is.  Meanwhile, there is treachery afoot, and both the brides and the army are in extreme danger.  The pace of action picks up, as does the possibility of romance.  

Discussion:  There are many caricatured aspects of this book, from the shallowness of most of the girls seeking husbands, to the beard-stroking villain.  But the non-villainous characters are well-drawn, and so appealing you will overlook the cartoonish figures.  

Likewise, the plot has little unpredictable about it, except perhaps for one tragic event that happens at the end, a development that took courage for the author to include.

Evaluation:  While there isn’t much surprising about this story, I found it very entertaining and even edge-of-your-seat towards the end, and eagerly look forward to the next “installments.”  (I thought it was a standalone, but found to my surprise after completing the book that it is part one of a trilogy - surprising because the story does in fact have an “ending,” a nice feature one doesn’t always find with trilogies.)
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My Rating: 3 hearts

Thoughts on the Novel: The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty was a book I was really excited to read because I love fantasy, especially if it contains political intrigue and spying. So, I was thrilled when I got my hands on an ARC of The Traitor’s Kiss.

The story’s beginning reminded me of Mulan – and perhaps that’s why it was initially pitched as a Mulan retelling but has now been changed to “Jane Austen with an espionage twist” (which is more accurate) – with Sage, an orphan living with her uncle’s family, not wanting to be married but getting dressed up, going to a matchmaker, screwing up, and then getting told that she’s unfit to be married. After that, the plot diverges, with Sage apologizing to the matchmaker so as to not affect the marriage prospects of her younger cousins and being hired on as the matchmaker’s apprentice.

Although I enjoyed The Traitor’s Kiss overall, I had two major issues with it. First, there’s a lot of girl-on-girl hate in the book. Throughout the novel, Sage makes fun of the girls that are being matched for caring about beauty, and considers herself as better than them. Meanwhile, these girls are written as clichéd characters – they served no purpose other than to be dumb, catty, and only interested in money and marriage. I wish Beaty could have portrayed some of these girls as having both beauty and brains rather than succumbing to the stereotype that girls that care about their looks lack intelligence.

Secondly, there was a lack of worldbuilding in The Traitor’s Kiss. All I literally remember about the world is that there are two countries at war and the Kimisar have invaded Demora because they’re experiencing a famine. There was no map; and the Kimisar are simply described as being darker and having tattoos, indicating that Beaty relied on the use of another trope – that of the dark-skinned aggressor. 

The Traitor’s Kiss will be released by Imprint tomorrow!

Comments About the Cover: All I need to see is a sword on the cover to automatically put the book on my wishlist!  

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Raincoast Books) for free.
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Matchmaking, politics, handsome soldiers, war espionage, smart women and cozy tea time, The Traitor's Kiss has everything I love.

TTK is an original fantasy novel that combines a Jane Eyre-type of lead character with political and strategy plot lines. From the start, i fell in love with Sage, a smart and opinionated young woman who teaches her uncle's siblings and reams of independence. I truly pictured her as a Jane Eyre, sure of her own mind, fond of books, hurt and isolated in her social condition, but proud and outspoken. 

There's an aura of cozy tea times and proper manners in every scene as it surprisingly and stimulatingly expands into political matchmaking of noble families, turmoil, covert strategy and espionage. So interesting!

Matchmaking is approached as a chess game with unexpected political repercussions. A military escort comprised of brave and well-connected officers work in a double mission as they protect a group of brides intended for a traditional ceremony held in the city, but conspiracies, old feuds and treasons haunt them all the way. I really took to this beautifully clever mixture of Jane Austen's social gatherings and strategic counterbalance of political machinations. 

It's not adventurous in pace, but intelligent, with attention to detail, lively dialogues and a forbidden romance that will leave you breathless when the first (very passionate) kiss takes place. And the explosive plot twist that hides in the middle of the web of deceit will leave you even more breathless. It took me by surprise and really blew my mind.

Then all the secrets, all the plans and enemies and surprises converge in an epic finale full of action and heartbreak! And I loved every word of it. 

The storyline is quite sealed, but could there be more? A second book with the general storyline? I wonder...
Favourite quote: Mend a broken plate with that apology, and I'll accept it.
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I really enjoyed this book! I wasn't sure what to expect with such a premise for a story. I love how fierce and adventurous Sage Fowler is. She definitely learns to embrace her true nature in a world full of ladies striving for the best arranged/matched marriage. Her love of books and teaching is amazing. I love how she really embraces her abilities to take on new roles when asked to spy. It was amazing to see her WANT to learn more and help Ash/Alex with his mission. 

I must admit I did not see that Ash/Alex switch coming and felt like it was so obvious after I realized what was going on. Alex Quinn is quite an interesting character. I'm really excited to see what develops in the rest of the series! I know this book focused mostly on Sage and Alex, but I would love to see more of their friends and the people of Crescera. The world building was great and I'm really genuinely curious about the Kimisara people. I just know there is so much more to their story and Sage will be the one to tackle that for the kingdom. 

The only thing missing from the e-arc was a map. I ran out and purchased a copy when it was release to have that extra visual aid (which helped immensely to track their journey).
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I loved the way this one started. I was immediately pulled in, but slowly I started to lose interest and felt very confused by some of the chapters. Not sure if that was the authors intentions or not, but I almost DNF'd the book. If it wasn't for my friend giving me a bit of a spoiler I'd probably would have stopped reading. Eventually the story did pick up some more. Things got super interesting and I was able to finish reading and look past the lil issues I had. Overall, it was a good read with a complete HEA.
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Rating: 3.5

There's been some controversy behind this book because of the author's use of the "dark skinned aggressor" trope so I went into this book with some reservation. However, despite that I wish the author hadn't use that offending and harmful trope, I found myself enjoying the book.

When first getting into this book, I was told that this was supposed to be a Mulan retelling. However, I found that this story had almost no resemblance towards the much beloved Disney story other than the main character was sent to be matched for marriage. If this is supposed to be a Mulan retelling then I understand why some reviewers were also upset over the fact that the main character was white.

However, all that aside, I actually quite enjoyed this book. The Traitor's Kiss is about this girl named Sage who was sent to be matched by her uncle for marriage by the land's most esteemed matchmaker. But instead, Sage, our main character, butchers her chances of being matched by bombing the interview. She does it on purpose as she has other plans for her future than become a wife to some important man. So instead of being matched, she becomes a spy for the matchmaker and is tasked to find out as much as she can about the men the matchmaker intends to match with the girls. The plot of story thickens when Sage becomes involved with a soldier in order uncover a political conspiracy against the kingdom.

First, I absolutely loved the character of Sage although she did come across as very "Mary Sue" sometimes. I loved the love interest as well. I'm not gonna lie and say that he's not the typical brooding, handsome YA love interest but he still tugged at my heart strings.

The "dark-skinned aggressor" trope is a problem. I felt like the author tried to be diverse with her characters but honestly, did not do a good job of it. The constant skin tone description was completely unnecessary.

Some examples:
"Kimisar were even darker than Demorans from Aristel, and this close he almost faded into the shadows."
"He had the darker skin of an Aristelan as well as the nearly black hair. She'd never be able to match his color even if she stayed outdoors all summer."

I felt like the plot dragged a bit. The whole middle of the book was primarily the characters traveling and the main character and the love interest being suspicious of each other. However, despite the drag, I still found the book really interesting and I was definitely invested in the main character and the overall plot of the story.

Overall, I gave this book a 3.5 star rating. The book was good enough but the author really needs to rethink the way she decides to portray skin tones in her books.
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I know there is a lot of controversy about this one and complaints of whitewashing the story, but I really enjoyed it. I don't really pay much attention to race etc when reading (I probably should care more, but I usually that goes out of my focus in lieu of the story and character depth), so I can't really speak to any of those claims. I also don't really read this as a retelling of Mulan. I enjoyed it for its own story, and not because of any possible retelling aspects. 

I saw another reviewer who compared this to "The Kiss of Deception" by Mary Pearson, and that is probably a good match. Pearson is one of my favorite authors, and that series is very well written. I felt the same sort of twist took place here, though on a much smaller scale. It was also a much darker story, with a lot of suspense and grief.

Hopefully Beaty can move beyond all of this controversy and continue writing. She has a way with words that brings readers into her world. Also, I really like this cover!
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This is a must purchase for YA collections. The characters are strong, particularly Sage, and I look forward to seeing them develop in future installments.
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Review is published on youtube as well as video will be published on the blog on 05.05.2017
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