Title: Traitor’s Kiss
Author: Erin Beaty
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Synopsis (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.
Gah. I was over the moon after receiving an arc because I have heard such phenomenal reviews of this book. All 5 stars on Goodreads and a lot of big bloggers I look up to raved about it, so I thought it must be amazing! Oh boy was I in for a surprise. I honestly don’t even know where to begin. The first half of the book dragged on for waaaaay too long in my opinion and pulled a Kiss of Deception move that made me have to reread some chapters to understand what was happening.
First, we meet Sage Farrow, an orphan living with her Aunt, Uncle, and their kids. Within the first chapter, we are told that she is exceptionally smart and has a sharp temper that makes her stand out among all the other prim and proper girls of her age. A matchmaker takes Sage in as an apprentice to help form matches. *sigh* Here is where I took stars off.
Every single girl who was mentioned throughout this book, but one, was criticized in such a derogatory manner. The overwhelming girl-on-girl hate is really upsetting in my opinion. Clare was the only girl among the group that wasn’t branded as slutty and spoiled, but Sage didn’t even like her in the first half of the story. She constantly reasons that Clare is only being nice because she had ulterior motives to take advantage of her. Plus, Clare is such a minor character and has no effect over the plot or anything in the book at all. Throughout the story, it is emphasized that Sage is so special and not like all the others girls. This kind of description have gone on far too long, when will it ever end?! The “main character is smart, witty, unlike all the other girls that are mentioned in the story. Who are all described as being catty and guy-crazy.” Like no, do not put down all the other girls just to make your main character look good. Do not make her a special snowflake. Just, gah.
“Well, what do you think?” asked the Matchmaker.
Sage leaned back and made a face. “I don’t like her. She is spoiled, rude, and overbearing.”
Darnessa rolled her eyes. “I can count the number of girls you’ve liked on one hand. She’s a Concordium candidate-of course she’s a spoiled brat. Have you learned nothing?”
“Maybe that’s the reason for the showy cleavage. When she can’t keep up, she can use the hill scenery to keep suitors hypnotized.
During the journey to the capital, Sage and the girls are accompanied by soldiers for security. Here, she meets a handsome young soldier named Ash Carter, the romantic interest. Sage, on the hunt for more information about the soldiers so she can make matches, is instantly seen as a threat and spy to Captain Quinn after he notices the numerous questions she asks about them. Here is where we learn more about the political conflict. The Kimisar are Demora’s rivals, from a bordering country. Every time they appear, the Kimisar are described as dark. Characters of color should not just be written as dark repeatedly. After voicing this on twitter, a fellow friend linked me to a guide on how to describe People of Color, and it’s really helpful! Check it out!
The man nodded once from under his hood but said nothing. Kimisar were even darker than Demorans from Aristel, and this close he almost faded into the shadows. Swirling tattoos on his exposed forearms added to the shapeless effect.
Ash drew his brows together. 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, contrary to her aunt’s endless lectures on ruining her complexion.
When buddy reading with Aila from One Way Or An Author, we talked about how yet again, the enemies, Kimisar, resemble the ones from other disappointing novels. Aila then shared a link with me that I would like to share with you guys about the dark skinned aggressor trope that is seen often in problematic books like The Continent and more.
Anywho, the action and plot finally started to pick up near the end but by then, I was pretty much done with this book and was about to just DNF it. It was such a crazy ride and the plot was really confusing in the middle but it ended up okay. I’m a sucker for romance so I do have to admit there were a few swoony scenes sprinkled about but overall, I am crestfallen with how this anticipated book turned out.
Thank you to Aila (and Macmillian) for the ARC!