SYNOPSIS (via 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.”
For me, The Traitor’s Kiss was a quick read. I read most of this book in one day. The beginning did drag a bit for me, and there were a ton of characters introduced in a very short amount of time. Once Sage and the army meet up, the story really picks up and flew by. The chapters are also super short, which I think helps. I do think Sage could be hit or miss for some people. I enjoyed her because I’m someone whose temper can cloud her judgment at times. I did like that she would see the error of her ways and apologize, not something you always see. Though her not liking some of the girls because they enjoy more feminine pursuits was frustrating. The troupe is so common and stupid, and one of my bigger pet peeves.
I also figured out the twist pretty early on. There are clues dropped throughout and I don’t think it is hidden very well. I don’t think figuring this out early hindered the book for me. I loved Sage and Alex’s chemistry. Their love grows organically and isn’t rushed. They are both loners, so it was nice to see them genuinely open up to each other. Tension is high throughout the novel, seeing who’s plot is going to succeed so there really is never a dull moment.
Before reading this book, I saw a lot of reviews saying it was “a whitewashed Mulan”. I think from the synopsis, you can see where that misconception comes from. You have matchmaking and the military elements right there. Once the story starts though, you realize that they’re not similar. Sage never joins the army in disguise, she isn’t a good fighter. She has great observation skills thanks to her time working with her father as a fowler, and her love of learning. She is in a unique position thanks to her being the matchmaker’s apprentice which the army uses to their advantage.
I will say the characterization of the villains is problematic. You have the main villain, joining forces with “dark-skinned tribesmen”. They are harmful stereotypes and not fleshed out at all. This was probably my biggest problem with the book. It is frustrating that this is still an issue when more and more books are released with some amazing representation. The other issue I have is that I thought this book was a stand-alone. Honestly, it should be! Not everything needs to be a trilogy! There could have been a nice little time jump epilogue at the end and it would have worked perfectly. Instead, there are two more books in this series.
Overall, I enjoyed the espionage elements to the story. I think the author has a lot to learn about not using gross stereotypes.
Has anyone read the rest of this series? Should I check it out or should I just ignore them?
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