Review: The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty

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Published: 9 May 2017

Publisher: Imprint

Category: Fantasy/Young Adult/Romance

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.

Rating: 1 Star

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.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.
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