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The Traitor's Kiss

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Member Reviews

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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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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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 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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This novel is about espionage, spies, and even a wee bit of love in this light fantasy novel.

Sage Fowler, our main character, loves knowledge and teaching, but she’s a female whose parents have died in a world where women have few choices. Her uncle took her in after her father died; she doesn’t remember her mother much. Her aunt treats her well and Sage loves her cousins, especially teaching them. She dislikes her uncle, although I don’t know if it’s warranted. When he informs her that she will be married off by the matchmaker, Sage is far from happy. After ruining the interview, Sage becomes the matchmaker’s apprentice because she is so smart. She observes everything and comes to accurate conclusions. A huge event--the Concordium--is about to occur where the matchmaker matches a large number of girls from upper-crust families. Sage will be the spy--she needs to learn as much as possible about the girls and the men to help determine who should be with whom.

In the midst of moving girls across the lands to the party, political intrigue is afoot. There is a duke who is plotting a takeover. The military doesn’t have all the details, but they do know that they are finding bands of the enemy about. Captain Alexander Quinn and his men Casseck, Luke Gramwell, and Ash Carter encounter one group, but their mistake costs the military knowledge, so they are re-assigned to escort the ladies to the Concordium. They quickly realize that this trip may not be as safe as they had hoped. They must now protect the girls from danger and hope help arrives soon. They will also need a spy, but who could possible be brave enough and smart enough to determine motivations of so many people?

I really enjoyed this novel. The character development and relationships were believable and the pace kept me turning pages. The author is clever in her managing of the spies and spying. I especially loved that it was a stand-alone; then, I saw on Amazon that it is a trilogy. Sigh. Therefore, you can look forward to more spying and adventure I would imagine in the following books. We hope to have this novel in the library at the beginning of next school year.

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I loved reading this book. My interest was high from the beginning but it was captured completely as soon as Quinn, Cass, Ash, Robert, Gram and the guys came into the story. I knew I wanted to go on adventures with them. I fell in love with Quinn right away. The chemistry between mouse and starling was very strong. I am surprised by the low ratings I have read. They don't have anything to do with the story, the strategy, the excitement, the fun of reading this book. Being a librarian, I know there are many who will love reading this.
I do hope the next books focus on romance for some of the other guys and don't take away from the strength of the romance in this book or put it in question. I only had one moment of annoyance with the character who makes an obviously flawed decision but it was slight. The ending felt a bit rushed and it leaves me a little in doubt of the strength of the love story (see my hopes for the next book), and one of my favorite characters died and broke a little of my heart. Those are my only negatives.I look forward to reading more.
There is some passionate kissing and touching but no further than that. Language is ok, and the violence is strong, but not excessive.

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Debut author Erin Beaty's The Traitor's Kiss is a pretty decent fantasy for YA. It's a broadly-drawn fantasy romance that ties together marriage contracts and military maneuvers! Admittedly some of the novel can fall a bit flat - especially in the introduction - and the pacing can become more of an issue as the story progresses. There are some high-stakes fun and entertaining moments to Sage's story, but it's also one flawed in its premise, execution, and characterization. Very much a debut novel, this first in a planned trilogy reads like a mashup of Mulan and The Winner's Curse - but with some problematic elements and some original plot-trickery all its own.

The characters in the pages of The Traitor's Kiss are.. interesting. Some are likeable, some are confusing, and some are rather ill-defined; most secondary (i.e. non love interest) characters feel rather underdeveloped. As the main, Sage receives the bulk of the novel's focus and is the most dimensional person. She both defies and fulfills expected roles for women in fantasy. She subverts genre tropes and also follows them. Her worth is tied to marriage prospects but her keen eye for detail and tactics help the military in key situations. Sage is not always nice and has some troublesome characteristics, but she's an engaging character because she is flawed and realistic.

I had conflicting emotions about The Traitor's Kiss as I read my way into it. At times the ship and the spying fun and plot creativity made me feel around 4-stars-worth of enjoyment. But the technical issues encountered in the writing and the appropriative nature of the plot tempered my feelings to.... 3ish? There are some racial undertones that require dissection and discussion, as well as the fact that this definitely seems to be a white-washed Mulan. There's also some harmful tropes to be found in how Sage regards other girls -- especially ones who happen to like being feminine. Sage befriends at least one girl over the course, but a novel cannot boast a "strong" heroine if its at the expense of every other female character in the novel.

Some of the plotting is good and some of it is less so, but the author is clever, I will give her that. The worldbuilding is shallow and often lazy -- there's no real sense of time, place or history to Demora. The writing has issues with clarity -- often at key plot points which is distracting and can make the "reveal" of what happened hard to understand. There are some slight Jane Austen similarities here but The Traitor's Kiss is much more along the lines of a romance/fantasy than a mix of magic and Regency.

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I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I originally thought it would be a Fantasy book, but in reality, there was no fantasy whatsoever. The MC was humorous and amusing, and her love interest was charming and brooding. However, the plot was a no, no. I couldn't connect at all. I felt like an after thought. To be honest, I hardly remember why kings were fighter about. It was as compelling as the author thought it would be

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***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty
Book One of the Traitor's trilogy
Publisher: Imprint (Macmillan)
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

This is probably going to end up ending the most mixed of mixed reviews of all time. I feel both extremes of the spectrum, with this book. On the one hand, there were parts of the story that I really enjoyed. On the other hand, there were parts of the story and the book in general that I abhorred. I recognize some problematic content, but mostly it was the boring quality of the writing and storytelling that dragged my enjoyment - and the rating - straight down.

Sage Fowler was taken in by her uncle, a nobleman, at a young age. Now sixteen, she is not marriageable, and she becomes apprenticed to a matchmaker. Sage detests matchmaking, but Mistress Rodelle - Darnessa - is extremely astute and a master manipulator when it comes to making matches. Sage learns how to be crafty and astute from Darnessa - more than she already was. Sage isn't working for Darnessa for very long before she, Darnessa, and a bevy of eligible noble ladies begin the journey to nation's capital for a large event to see the noblewomen married. Escorting them are highly trained young soldiers, led by Captain Alexander Quinn. Alex has a secret undercover mission to accomplish while escorting the ladies, one that Sage must not know about. But he decides to recruit Sage when he realizes how clever and observant she is. Navigating the web of deceit and scheming that surrounds them proves critical, because they uncover a plot that is on its way to toppling the kingdom.

This book is written in third-person, limited to several POVs. There is Sage's, and Alex's, and several others', though Sage's and Alex's are the most important. The chapters do not alter between characters. I personally really enjoy third-person narratives (most of the time), so this worked for me. Especially with all of the deceit going on (on both Sage and Alex's part, to the world and to each other).

Speaking of deceit, it was cleverly done, by Beaty - this very particular thing that she did that I won't talk about more specifically. She had me fooled for a little, but I figured it out long before the major hints were dropped. Mostly it was hope, and not quite "figuring it out". You'd have to read the book to see what I mean!

I had a hard time caring about Sage (and I'll take about her in the next section), but I did like Alex a lot. Alex is the first son of the General, and he is already a captain, at twenty-one years old. He is young but very mature, intelligent, clever, and selfless. He commands the attention and respect of everyone who meets and knows him, and with good reason. He kind of reminds me of Brigan (from Kristin Cashore's Fire, a.k.a. my favorite book of all time). He's quiet, alert, calculating, and perceptive, and he is brave and selfless and always concerned about protecting and accounting for everyone else. Alex is a good man and a good person, and I am in awe of all of the clever planning and scheming he did throughout this book.

The politics and the scheming were a lot to handle at times, so I commend Beaty on doing a fairly decent job of packing so much of it into a YA book. To be honest, I'm going to complain about how boring this book was in the next section, and that boredom is partly due to the amount of political "stuff" the author has going on (maybe too much). But on the other hand, it was cool that she went so far with everything political.

What else... I guess I liked the romance. No love triangle, and the romance is kind of neat, if you think about it (I won't say too much). I liked how little drama there was - especially since there was potential for A LOT of drama towards the end of the book. Again, no love triangle, and probably no love triangle in the future, though I don't want to speak too quickly. This latest crop of YA debut authors reaaaaaally seem to like introducing love triangles in book two.

The book ends very well, though one could argue that most book ones of a trilogy end really well. It's a good ending, and I liked it! In general, I liked the story, though it's not super original. Once I got past the first one hundred pages or so (maybe one hundred and fifty), I got a little more invested in the story and I wanted to know more. But I also had issues with the book - see below.

What I Did Not Like:

Ohhhhh boy. This might take a while. Or it might not. It's 2:30 AM and this review should have been posted two and a half hours ago, so, this section might be brief in comparison to how much I really want to discuss.

The beginning of this book was incredibly boring. Friends, I usually muscle through anything. I power through boring like nobody's business. Slow start? No problem! I will keep reading because I believe in you and your book and I want to give it a fair shot. Slow starts are the worst (or one of the worst) but they almost never deter me. But, friends. I almost stopped reading this book, after about one hundred pages.

Most of you know me well by now - I don't stopped reading. I don't DNF. I always finish books I start. And yet, I was so close to setting this one aside (and arguably never coming back to it, because who has the time for that). The first one hundred pages are so incredibly boring! My goodness, they are the reason why I am writing this review so late! I didn't care for Sage, or her tragic backstory (which doesn't really add up to me, by the way), or her pity-party in which she doesn't want to get married or be forced to do blah blah blah. I also didn't really care about whatever scouting mission Alex was on, because it was a real snoozefest.

Things started to look up when Alex and his soldiers begin escorting the caravan of ladies to the Concordium in the capital, to hopefully become brides of lords and nobles. Then things start to get a little more interesting - though still boring. I think I was fully invested when they reach a duke's home, because that is when action actually starts to happen.

Is this a slow-burn type of story? Maybe? But it took way too long to get to any type of "good stuff", especially for a YA fantasy novel. Sure, Sage is supposed to be some great intellectual, and Alex is supposed to be a very clever soldier, so you'd expect a lot of mind games and internal action happening. But there was too much thinking and politics and it was incredibly boring.

Keep in mind, I usually love the intellectual mind games and the politics. But in this book? Snooze.

Also, the fact that this book is a YA high fantasy baffled me a little, mostly because I had a hard time grasping the world-building. I could barely keep track of the names of the countries, let alone figure out who was an enemy country and who wasn't. The author did a poor job of conveying the world to readers. I don't even know what nation Alex is from and is serving! Demora? I don't think it's Kimisara because I'm 80% sure Kimisara is the enemy country. Maybe? See!

The author also had me a little lost when it came to the skin tones and physical descriptions. I think she was trying to be purposefully vague AND make sure we knew that she had some diversity going on, in her book. But I was just so confused. So is Alex some sort of golden/tanned-skinned guy? Mixed heritage? Sage is pale? The enemies are "dark"-skinned? It bothered me how often the author used the same word to describe skin tone (dark, dark, dark), though I suppose there isn't anything flagrant about the word.

I didn't really like Sage - well, I liked her sometimes, and other times I didn't. I didn't like her at all, in the beginning. She is incredibly stuck up! She grew up with poor parents who let her run around in the forest and become one with nature (I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea), so when her uncle of genteel birthing takes her in with his wife and small children, Sage is not amenable to the domestic lifestyle and refuses to get married. What's more, she really looks down on the ladies that are sent to the matchmaker to get married. Who are you to judge young ladies who want a matchmaker to help them secure their future? Who are you to judge whether they are frivolous or shallow because they like gorgeous dresses and looking pretty? Sage is such a snob! Look, I have nothing against girls who don't like what are known as typically "girly" things (dresses, hair, giggling about boys, whatever), but I also have nothing against girls who DO like those things. Sage could be a little less judgmental? Read: a lot less.

But she sort of grew on me, as the story went on. She is so nosy and way too intrusive for her own good, but I don't deny that she is smart and occasionally capable, and realistic in many cases. Like, she knows she isn't suddenly an expert in defending herself after having one lesson in fighting.

Originally, this book was pitched as a Mulan retelling. Now I think they're pitching it as some sort of Jane Austen inspired novel. In any case, the Mulan retelling aspect is garbage, and I don't know why the author and publisher were selling this one as that. Helllooooooooo, whitewashing! And I'm really not understanding the Jane Austen pitch (and yes, I've read enough Jane Austen to know).

Tl;dr - the book was boring and not just in the beginning, though mostly in the beginning. There are problematic aspects, there are annoying aspects, and I didn't always like the female protagonist. And I was confused about the world-building.

Would I Recommend It:

I'm going to go ahead and say no, I don't recommend this book. Who even knows what kind of mess the author will make, in book two? There was NO HINT of love triangle in this book, but I'm pretty much going to just brace myself for the introduction of some mysterious hot prince or something, who will fall in love with Sage (and of course she'll return those feelings even though she has found her one and only, in this book). This book wasn't impressive, it wasn't a big hit like I expected, and it's a trilogy written by a debut author. Yeah, I don't recommend it.


2.5 stars. I think I'll round up to 3 stars because there were aspects of this book that I really liked (Alex, the romance, the general story, the amount of insane deception going on). But it really wasn't anything special, and there were enough problems to irritate me. I might read the rest of the series? I might not? I think I need to see the synopsis of book two to make that decision.

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I was originally interested in this book as it was marketed as a Mulan retelling. however upon starting it, the entire story was white washed and came out very prejudice. Judging from past reviews, i noticed tons of others thought the same thing. If you can even get past this, the plot is low and very boring. The characters are one dimensional and do no grow. I DNF this because of how discriminatory the book was.

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Actually enjoyed this book quite a bit. There were enough twists and turns to keep me engaged with the story. I did not think that the writing was racist at all. I look forward to the second in the series.

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