Spoilers for Kiss of Deception and Heart of Betrayal. Let’s dive into it!
So Lia and Rafe are stuck in Venda and they gotta navigate all these cray politics with the Komizar of Venda.
1) Worldbuilding – continues to deliver quality content to an e-reader near me
First of all, I’d really like to mention I impressed I was with how MEP developed the different cultures of the kingdoms. While I’m still iffy on what the gift actually is, the world around I am completely on board with. There are obvious distinctions between the mindsets of Vendans, Morrighans and Dalbretchs (?? idk is that what their demonym is?). We learn with Lia how Venda really is vs. the barbaric image Morrighan and Dalbreck has of it.
MEP makes good use of the holy text excerpts. At first I brushed them off in the first book, but they’re of the utmost importance once you start to realize what they mean.
2) Characters – interactions between the big bad and Lia are a treat to read (I mean in terms of how intriguing their dynamic is), Kaden’s tragic backstory is revealed (my assassin son!), Rafe and Kaden finally feel distinct enough from each other, again also very solid minor characters whose interactions with Lia makes the world feel very real. Rafe’s squad and Griz are also pretty damn good. The Vendans are good. They’re just all good.
So, the Komizar. He’s everything I wanted the Darkling from Greg to be (which was not delivered) and hell yes did he deliver. Dear Regi isn’t a cartoon villain or too easy to beat or stupid – if you know anything about my quips with villain characters, my main complaints are that they’re usually all INTJ and their plans fail too easily. No such thing with Komizar, he’s got motive, he’s got goal, he’s got the method and the manipulation and he ain’t afraid to use it and Lia’s gotta be able to perform at his pace or else he’s gonna chip away at what’s left of what she has.
Komizar is manipulative and loves control and dangling bits of control in Lia’s face. He’s so nasty, but it seems like he’s doing it for the “good of his people” or framing it as such at least. This dude was one of the highlights of the book. He’s just so nasty and sleazy but he has charisma and charm which makes him stand out a lot as a villain. He has the ability to back his shit up. Unlike your stock INTJ villain whose plan fails at the first flub *COUGH*.
Komizar’s relationship with Kaden is interesting as well. One of the main strengths of this series is that it establishes character relationships very well and it doesn’t waste time. Every interaction is meaningful. Relationship Chekov’s gun.
Kaden – I’ll always be rooting for Kaden, my moe assassin son deserves happiness and justice. I did predict that his father would be the viceregent because of Andres’ hair description. While I do prefer his and Lia’s dynamic vs Lia and Rafe’s, it’s obvious at this point there isn’t a love polygon, which I’m fine with because y’all don’t need romance to be happy. They have a connection that goes beyond romo even if they aren’t truthful to each other.
Lia – I love Lia more with each book. Yes, she’s in a dangerous situation, but she still maintains that brazen quality that I like about her. This installment also gives us a generous display of her intellect and savvy. AND IT SHOWS US not tells us. Lia’s intelligence is always in action because she always has to be on her toes because of the conflict btw her and Komizar. I love how she learns so much about Venda and is a badass motherfucking translator, picking up the language so fast mmmm.
ALSO SHE SHANKS KOMIZAR oh lorddd
Rafe – Is fine. He and Kaden always be fighting lol. His interactions with his squad is pretty endearing.
3) Writing + plot – MEP is rocking it tbh
The Kiss of Deception series isn’t exactly told in a linear fashion. Yes, we follow the POV characters chronologically with flashbacks, but there’s lots of planting of elements that are brought back later with satsifactory pay off that I didn’t even see coming. I can say that is also the case for the last book, The Beauty in Darkness (I just finished it before writing this review). We see this with the holy texts and stuff we see in the Morrighese court. I’m always trying to predict what happens in stories because usually i can see the tropes and indications of how the story will unfold. MEP utilizes the story elements she introduces very well and I couldn’t the story outcomes even if I was able to pick up on the planted elements.
Writing is good as always. I didn’t notice anything too awkward and I’m glad for the consistency of the quality.
What an ending tho. I read through like a third of the last book right after I finished this because the momentum !!!!
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars