Cover Image: The Traitor's Kiss

The Traitor's Kiss

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Member Reviews

The Traitor’s Kiss is offensive and incredibly disappointing. Right off the bat, the readers are exposed to racism and misogyny. Adding to the slow pace, the shifts between POVs being rather abrupt and confusing, the lack of world-building, and the disinteresting plot, it is very difficult to find something good about this book.

Erin Beaty still has a lot to learn, both as a writer and as a human being. Her debut novel fails to meet all expectations, makes use of the dark skinned aggressor trope, has girls hating on other girls, and fails to capture the reader’s attention with an interesting and engaging plot. So while I thank the publisher for the sending me ARC, I have to give this just 1 star.

First off, addressing the racism. Like all YA Fantasy books, there are kingdoms on the brink of war. In this particular case, we have the Kimisar and the Demora. The Kimisar often are described as just ‘dark’, and are usually seen by other characters as being uncivilized/savages. It’s reminiscent of the problems found in other YA books released this year, as you can read here.

This also contributes to the lack of world-building. Beaty is very vague when it comes to the kingdoms’ culture and traditions. Her descriptions mostly fall on superficial aspects like clothing and, again, saying POC characters are ‘darker’ than others. This makes it difficult to understand and care about the conflict between kingdoms.

There is also a lot of girls hating on other girls in this book. Sage, our main character, finds work as a matchmaker, and her job is pretty much to pair people off into marriage. Every girl that goes through Sage’s interviews is beaten down and hated on. Sage is very much a ‘I’m not like other girls’ type of character, and that’s just sad and extremely frustrating and angering.

The abrupt shifts in POV between the main characters are also a problem for me There are no chapter headers in the ARC copy, so it is super jarring going from Sage’s POV to an entire different character voice and back again. Hopefully this won’t be a problem in the physical copies. But, when another POV character is introduced, things get extremely confusing. With the way things are written, once the third character comes into play, I actually had to reread the previous three chapters to understand what was happening.

The spying and romance could have been interesting, but all the problems mentioned above contribute to making this a rather tiring and angering read. It’s so very difficult to care about what’s going on when there’s blatant racism and misogyny every other chapter, staring you right in the face. So in the end, The Traitor’s Kiss is a very hard no from me.

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I'm not really sure what to say about this book. I found it hard to keep the characters and information straight. Partially because the same person is often called by many different names--first name, last name, title, role, another name. This all seemed like sloppy writing to me and left me confused a lot of the time. It does end up that some of this is an intentional part of the plot, which made me feel a little better about it (but I was still confused by some aspects of the plot, even at the very end).

Overall, the story was enjoyable enough, but I did feel it kind of dragged on and had some flaws. I wasn't a huge fan of Sage's character and there were quite a few sexy scenes that I could have done without. It does look like this is a part of a series, but I can't really see why more books are necessary, to be honest. The story was mostly tied up by the end.

Racism and Gender Bashing

About halfway through reading this, I noticed the other reviews that talked about racism and gender bashing. The only thought I'd had up to that point was that I wasn't getting a clear visualization of who the characters were or what they looked like, so I was a little surprised. After that I tried to pay attention to those to things (not excessively, but just to see if I could see what others were talking about). As far as racism goes, I honestly didn't see that. The main, male character and love interest of the heroine is described as having dark skin and dark eyes. The prince is also described this way. The heroine is described as have lighter hair and freckles. The villain is described as having blue eyes. Needless to say, I didn't see them demonizing a certain race--they were all a mix (the only description I noticed for the outsider, bad guy army was that they were tattooed). The one thing I will note is that this story did remind me a lot of Mulan, but it is not set in China and the characters are not Chinese. Now, this may have not been meant to be a Mulan retelling and the similarities may just be coincidental. Who knows? I'm going to give the author the benefit of the doubt and say it wasn't intentional.

As far as the gender bashing goes, I would say there is a bit of that. Sage seems to have an air of superiority and that seems to be based on the fact that she doesn't care about the things that the other girls do. There is one female character in particular that is painted in a very negative light because she wears makeup, dresses up, and tries too hard. Sometimes that kind of thing can be funny, but it was more looked down on with distain here. I wasn't a huge fan of it and, while it did affect the way I felt about the book as a whole, there were only a few instances and it wasn't effort for me to write it off completely.

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The story follows Sage. An orphan with no desire to ever marry and a great talent for observing people found herself a professional match makers apprentice. Marrying through a match maker being the status symbol of the rich and powerful.
I had not read anything about the book before hand. I had no clue of the story line or even genre. And what a great surprise I had. I absolutely loved it!!!!
The writing is easy to read.
The storyline relatively plausible.
There were perfect amounts of action vs love, with enjoyable characters and great plot twists.
I really liked Sage. She is everything you look for in a female heroine. She was believable and real, ruthless yet thoughtful and dangerous but selfless. In fact, she was not annoying in the slightest unlike the usual female characters found in YA at the moment.

(I am furiously typing, aware that I am rambling and probably making no sense but there are so many great things I want to say about this book)

The addition of Clare was a brilliant move as it gave me a chance to see Sage's softer side.

The story was fast passed yet not over complicated. There was never a dull moment and I was never bored. I was hooked throughout, which is probably how I managed to finish it in two sittings.
The story was entertaining enough without any twists or turns, however the did provide another great element to the story that made me rethink everything I had just read.

My only fault with the book would be, why was it so short?
I don't know if was just me power reading but the whole journey to the concordium seemed to last mere pages.
I would of liked to of seen more interaction between Sage and the other brides. Or even just the bride's. Where were they when Sage was fighting evil??

Each relationship Sage had brought out a different element of her personality, Darnessa, Clare, Charlie and each member of the army troupe. Sage and her interactions and relationships definitely the shining stars. I found the idea of the match making as a status symbol and a way to advance political agendas fascinating.
I would recommend this book to any and everyone.
It was a fast paced read with a great plot, easy to follow story line and likable characters.

Thank you NetGalley, Macmillan and Erin Beaty.

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The Traitor’s Kiss follows Sage Fowler as she becomes the assistant to one of the matchmakers of the land. They travel with all their eligible, noble ladies, accompanied by a group of soldiers to the capital for the matching, and intrigue ensues. Personally, I thought the story was okay, but the narrative structure led to a lot of confusion as to what was happening. The initial chapters had way too many characters thrown at the reader without much explanation, and why things were the way they were politically was glossed over.

Another thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the first appearance of one of the “bad” guys, a “darker” skinned man with tattoos. The main male protagonist was described as having dark skin, which was vague, but a little better than the usual white skinned protagonists that generally fill novels. Unfortunately, any half-success the author had with Quinn’s vague race was definitely aggravated by her heavy handed dealing with the Kimisara. Since the only person that really interacted with those characters wasn’t a good person himself, I could have forgive it a little if Beaty showed another side to their nation of people, but as is, it left a sour taste in my mouth.

Overall, any good things about this book were overshadowed by the confusing narrative structure and icky undertones of girl hate (Why all this focus on Jacqueline without even giving her a redeeming quality?). This book could have been really good, but fell short.

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The Traitor's Kiss was not quite what I was expecting. While an emphasis on details in the fantasy genre work for some, they certainly don't impress me unless its balanced with richly developed characters. In all honestly I struggled to keep up with the political world that was created here and quite frankly I found it tiresome after awhile. I was much more interested in the characters and I just didn't feel that the author dived deep enough into their characters.

I also wasn't a fan of the way that the author tried to hide the true identity of the "hero". This went on far too long and the resolution too quickly. For me, the ambiguous nature of who Sage's romantic interest is was not particularly compelling. It's pretty clear to readers who this hero is and Sage is left in the dark for the majority of the book. The continued dropping of hints to the reader just didn't work for me; it was so frustrating and made the plot unnecessarily complex. I was left wondering what the point of the whole mystery was. I'm not a fan of the whole "secret identity" thing in general, so having the plot element continue on for so long was not something that appealed to me.

The story did have a lot of potential; the plot devices used just aren't something that are ever going to appeal to me as a reader. So, I will be picking up the book, as long as we don't have another secret identity situation on our hands!

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Oh man! I devoured this book today! I started it a few days ago and got busy with school but today I finished it all and I loved it!!! I need more now!! It was fantastic! Highly highly recommend! Such a fun adventure with amazing characters and fun twists and turns! Can't wait to read it again!

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Sage is a strong willed young woman in a time of compliant maidens. She prefers breeches to skirts, and climbing trees to needlepoint. When forced to meet the matchmaker, she reveals her aversion to being matched. The matchmaker decides to take Sage under her wing as her apprentice, where Sage demonstrates her keen observational skills and sharp intellect. The royal guard also admires these skills, and she is recruited to gather information for the crown as they sense an uprising brewing.

I would like to state, that I am a hard-core contemporary reader. However, I do delight in a fantasy novel from time to time, and especially like when the story lean towards high fantasy. I love taking that trip back to an undefined time, to another world, that is entrenched in its own history, geography, and politics. Ahhh, a true escape from the day to day grind.

I was very pleased with the escape provided by The Traitor's Kiss. I know there are some things that will disappoint the hard core fantasy lovers out there. As far as I know, there is no map, and I know it is somewhat crucial to understand the lay of the land. Perhaps, there will be a map in the finished copy (?). And, although Beaty did a wonderful job with the history and politics of the realm, the world building was still a little lacking. Alas, this is slated to be a trilogy, and Beaty can get that done in the next book. But, like I said, I am a contemporary reader, so this did not bother me. This book was all about the characters for me.

I think at this point, we expect strong heroines, and Sage was just that. She had her own thoughts and opinions. She wanted to make her own decisions, and to make her own way in the world. She valued intellect and learning over preening and being matched. She was essentially an anachronism in this undefined medieval-like time. I loved her spirit, her sass, her can-do attitude. I liked that she was not afraid to get her hands dirty. There were so many sides and layers to her. Her past broke my heart, but what a future I sense for her.
"I could never be happy pretending to be something I'm not. I just wish being myself didn't cause so much trouble."
I thought the matchmaker was well crafted, as well. Mistress Rodelle had this air of superiority, that came along with the power to arrange political unions, but she also had this nurturing side, which was apparent in her dealings with Sage. Some of her plotting elicited grins from me, as I knew I would love the result. She was crafty, and I liked it.

The captain and his men wormed their way into my heart as well. They were swoonworthy, but also so loyal and dedicated to the crown and each other. Their bonds of brotherhood were quite apparent, and their interactions were often amusing. But what I really liked, was the way they respected Sage. Once she was pulled into their circle, they listened to her, and treated her as an equal. They considered her suggestions, and when they worked, they gave her credit. They appreciated her, and didn't underestimate her abilities. That scored them points in my book.

Some reviews I have read did not like when the book took a romantic turn. Um, I love romance, and this one was totally ship-worthy. I smiled and swooned and all that good stuff. It was a slow burn, but once it got there, it was a wildfire.
"Kissing her had been like tasting sunshine."
This is also the type of trilogy I like - no cliffy! I am a fan of series, which have an overarching story, but also a story arc that is completed in each book. This BIG plot is not resolved, but the smaller plot is. We know enough at the end of this book to expect more, but also be sated, and that always pleases me.

Overall: a promising beginning to a new series replete with great characters, battles, duplicitous plots, espionage, and romance.

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I loved this.. It's classic fantasy and all the characters were well developed and relatable.

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Sage, an orphan of marriage age, rebels against the planned future her Lord uncle seeks for her. A somewhat acceptable alternative is to be apprenticed to the matchmaker who told her uncle is was unmatchable. Sage soon finds herself involved in a dangerous adventure to save her land from invaders and discovers a future that is perfect for her. A delightful romp.

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The pacing of The Traitor's Kiss was slow in the first third of the book. It started to pick up and was great at the end of the book, unfortunately it was the end of the book. The writing was nothing special.. I really wished the arc had a map because I was confused on the places mentioned in comparison to other places.
None of the characters had any qualities that made them stand out. Sage got on my nerves a few times because of her stupid decisions and realizations.

"Most of all, she was done being Quinn's pawn

So she wasn't the one volunteering to do all that stuff then.. Okay...

The thing that really saved this book for me was the romance aspect. I appreciated it so much, it was adorable. How The Traitor's Kiss ended was touching yet annoying. I want to know more! The little surprise in the middle was a great touch; I thought it was a nice twist. I sorta guessed it :)

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It’s rare to find a refreshing take on young adult romance, particularly when the story depends on political intrigue and complicated relationships to drive the plot forward. The Traitor’s Kiss, by Erin Beaty, is nothing if not archetypical, but I can’t help falling in love with the protagonists, and if you love young adult romance with some action and a touch of strategy, then you’ll enjoy this read. Spoiler-free review below!

We meet Sage Fowler, the daughter born to a man of low status and a woman of high birth who were deeply in love. In this world, it’s typically bastards who receive the name of a plant or flower. Though Sage is legitimate by birth and by any other means, the very fact that her parents chose to go against these archaic traditions and name her “Sage” (a very pretty name, I think!), is telling of how she doesn’t quite fit into her society. She doesn’t want to be married and would rather spend her time with her nose buried in books or following a teaching vocation. Instead, she is apprenticed to a matchmaker, whose craft is much more complicated than Sage would have thought. Matchmakers hold the kingdom at their fingertips as they weave political alliance and maintain power balances. They prepare to bring a group of select ladies to the kingdom’s capital for the Concordium, a celebration where ladies and lords are betrothed and matched.

We alternate between Sage and a few other characters from the military escort intended to escort the women. The soldiers we meet are full of character and are distinct from each other. Each soldier has a clear purpose and talent, and I particularly love the brotherly relationships between them. They eclipse the gaggle of women they’re supposed to escort, and I didn’t bother paying them any attention.

Sage is a real gem among gems. I am a huge fan of strong female protagonists, but that strength is hard to balance in romance. I think Beaty did a great job of introducing Sage to us as an intelligent young woman, and kept reminding us that her last name is Fowler, after all, and she’s adept at all things outdoors. She prefers to ride horses in breeches instead of skirts (the travesty!), can shoot targets with a sling, and is not afraid of getting roughed up in order to protect herself and the people she loves.

The political drama of the court was a little complicated to follow, since one of the powers in contention had only brief appearances and seemed negligible, even though their name was thrown around quite often as a threat. So instead, I just focused on Sage and her developing attraction to one of the soldiers in their Concordium escort. Let’s call him Mouse, shall we? Mouse is a lovely and deep persona, and was crafted really well to match Sage’s level of maturity and dignity.

The Traitor’s Kiss could easily be read as a standalone novel, though there are now plans to work the story into a trilogy called The Traitor’s Circle. So, if you don’t care for series’, you can still read The Traitor’s Kiss and feel pretty satisfied.

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I found the pacing too slow, but more than that, I could not get invested in the characters, and I found the portrayal of the "bad guys" to be super problematic.

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I did not and will not read this book because:
- Girl on girl hate & misogyny.
- Dark-skinned aggressor trait. Read Justine's post about how harmful this trope is here:

When will books stop being racist and misogynistic? I'm TIRED of this.

Read the Aila's full review (with specific quotes) about how harmful and hurtful this book is here:

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Published: April 20th,2017

Published: May 9th

Genres: Young Adult

Reading from: ebook/hardcover


Pages:352 pages

Series or Standalone: Trilogy

Rating: ---

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.

OKAY................ I don't feel exactly comfortable for supporting this book after reading about how this book was offensive. I actually really loved this book but I want to say i'm blinded by my enjoyment by not being able to pickup up on the issues of this book. So this is why i'm leaving my rating as blank, because i;m not even sure how I feel about it.

So the main character, Sage Farrow is an orphan living with her Uncle's family. And lets just say they don't have the best relationship out there.

We get to know she intelligent, calculating and just pretty much good at everything.

there's really no extremely strong friendship between Sage and any other girls in the beginning, not really good thing a book. However she does become friends with a girl in the book, and it seemed really sweet .
There also was a lack of description in everything in a way, I also had nothing really to imagine, the author just kept repeating darker, or dark, It was very difficult and could be interpreted in several different ways. And can be harmful and offensive.

The pacing was slow but i absolutely loved it, it was really written well in my opinion. And the romance was slow burning and not instalove(which is a major plus), They developed a nice friendship, and it was extremely well written.

This book also slightly reminded me of The Kiss of Deception, with the whole characters POVs.

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Sage Fowler has no interest in getting married; in fact, she hopes it never happens. When she is hired by the local matchmaker, Sage can't believe that this job will be anything more than mindless prattle and boring tasks. Boy was she wrong; pretty soon Sage is wrapped up being a spy to help the king figure out where loyalties lie and Sage herself my just start to re-think her thoughts on marriage.
A fun, fast paced debut novel that I read in one sitting and has me interested in the next in this series!

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Holy cannoli I LOVED THIS BOOK!

I just really enjoyed the characters and I love the breadcrumbs dropped along the way that made you question what was coming and i'm proud to say I guessed right.

This is definitely a book that you'll want in physical form because my god the amount of page flipping back and forth that I did to compare and contrast characters and scenes would have been so much better with a physical copy.

Sage Fowler is a well rounded character that I found to be utterly believable. She was a like-able main character without being an unbelievable heroine. She seemed very self aware and I think that was what I liked most about her and her relationships with others.

I don't even know how to write about the other characters without spoilers so I just won't do it! But I loved the boys. I loved their comaraderie and I loved the relationships they built with the brides in this book.

So well crafted and really just delightful. A fantastic read and what looks to be the start of an amazing trilogy! Pick it up asap!

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I picked up Traitor's Kiss last night and I could not put it down! I was given an ARC of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review - and I feel like I got the better end of that bargain. Sage Fowler is a strong, relatable character for young women. I adore that Erin Beaty spends more time describing Sage's intelligence, wit, and thirst for learning than her looks and beauty. Sage does not allow people to walk all over her and instead charts her own course. She has a dream, to become a teacher, and she doesn't let anything get in her way - not her uncle, her well-meaning aunt, or her eventual relationship. She is also compassionate, offering to help those around her learn more and even willing to risk her own safety for that of others. She is clever and quick witted.

The plot was fast-paced and interesting. There was a twist that I really liked. There were definitely clues planted before it's reveal, but it still was surprising and enjoyable. I look forward to reading more about these characters and this world, and was pleased when I realized that this was the first book in the trilogy. This author will definitely be one to watch.

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, the cover is GORGEOUS! I love juxtaposition of the flowers with the sword. I saw this book on several bookstagram accounts and book blogs, and I thought it was too pretty not to pre-order. That it was a fantasy novel (my favorite genre) was just a boon.

The only part that gave me pause is this: The age difference between the teen protagonist and her eventual love. Sage is seventeen years old, and Quinn is twenty-one. While four years isn't a problem in real life for adults, I feel somewhat conflicted about these relationships when I share books with my teenage students. Books can help shape their beliefs and expectations about relationships - and if a four year age difference is normalized to a fourteen year old, it could lead them into an unhealthy relationship. That being said, Beaty's country and culture is clearly not our world, and she even puts in part about girls getting into relationships too early as a negative thing. And I really like how she shaped Sage and Quinn's relationship - he is respectful of her sexual boundaries, admires her intelligence, is willing to let her take the lead in plans regardless of her gender, and supports her dreams and career aspirations. In the end, it isn't an engagement ring that he gives her, but a job interview! If my students normalize partner behavior like Quinn's, I would be thrilled! The age comment isn't just about this book, and their gap isn't even the biggest I've read in YA fantasy (i'm looking at you, Vampire Academy), it's just something I've been thinking about.

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I really loved this book and couldn't stop reading it after about 80 pages. I was up until 2 am just reading on a Monday night. This book was adorable and I really enjoy reading about a kingdom with arranged marriages. Not that I enjoy arranged marriages but I like reading about how different main characters will react to the proposal. At least in this world, you can be matched by someone who tries to put you with someone who is "good" for you.

This book was not only fast paced but it was held my attention the entire way through. Once I had sat down and actually had time to start reading the book, I just couldn't stop reading. This is one of those books that once you're hooked, you just can't stop.

Sometimes, okay no, all the time, I like to read about people falling in love. Not the shitty, insta love, but like actual genuine love. I'm not a mushy person just reading about people being happy makes me so happy and I'm all about that. But that's off topic, I only wanted to start off by saying that I love love but hate insta love so this story was just perfect. The main character, Sage, doesn't just fall in love with the first man she sees. If anything, she thinks that no one will ever love her and doesn't want to get married. She's a character that I could really relate too and I didn't find anything that I really disliked about her. Sage is a strong and independent woman and I really liked how she was willing to risk so much for the land and people that she loved.

My only complaint is that this is going to be a trilogy and I don't really think it needs to be. It finished like a contemporary would and I think it ended perfectly. I'm not particularly interested in the politics of the kingdom and because of that, I did give the book 4.5 stars instead of a full 5. I think that if I had something that interested me besides the love story then I would probably read the next 2 books. That being said, I might read them, I just don't know.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fiction books and doesn't mind romance in their books. This is definitely a book for those who love reading about strong female characters. This book comes out May 9th, and I will definitely be recommending this book to my friends if they are looking for a book with romance but also an interesting story.

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