Kiss of Deception: Remnant Chronicles, #1, by Mary E. Pearson
Me, while reading The Kiss of Deception: Hey, this is so much fun! It's got the same feel as the Girl of Fire and Thorns books and since that series is over, it's so awesome to find another one that OH MY GOD I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING.
GOOD SHOW, MARY E. PEARSON.
Yeah, this one's got me all caps-happy.
Proof via the FB:
Rather than be forced into an arranged marriage to a prince from another country who A) can't be bothered to even MEET her before getting hitched, let alone even CORRESPOND WITH HER, and B) expects her to have a magical ability that she DOESN'T HAVE, Princess Arabella Celestine Idris Jezelia, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan, runs away with her maid.
They travel hundreds of miles, doubling back and leaving false trails and doing everything they can to avoid being followed—disobeying the king, after all, is an act of treason, and punishable by death—and eventually make their way to a small fishing village on the coast, where they settle down and get jobs as barmaids. It's hard work, and a very different life than either girl is used to, but they're both very happy there.
But despite their best efforts at avoiding detection, there are at least two men on their trail: one is the prince, who is partly angry about Lia's flight but MOSTLY curious about her, and the other is the assassin who has been ordered to kill her.
- EVERYTHINNNNNNNNNNG. There's action and romance and romantic complications; the characters are smart and strong and the emotions are palpable; the focus seamlessly shifts from Lia to the Prince to the Assassin and back again; the worldbuilding and creation of multiple cultures is super; the details about daily life are just as compelling as the action sequences. As you'd expect from a girl who's grown up a princess, Lia is capable of being QUITE imperious when roused as well as QUITE bossy, but she's also wonderfully stubborn and hugely empathetic and even if I didn't always AGREE with her decisions, I understood them. There are threads about family and duty and friendship, and OH MY STARS, IF YOU LIKE HIGH FANTASY, THEN JUST READ IT.
- Very occasionally, the dialogue would veer from Semi-Olde-Fashionedy-Formal-Fantasy ("You serve the Kingdom of Morrighan well on this day, Arabella.") to Modern-Day-American ("Pull your royal head out of your ass and get used to it!"), but that is a TOTALLY minor quibble in the face of SO MUCH AWESOME.
OH MY GOD DO I SERIOUSLY HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL 2015 FOR THE NEXT INSTALLMENT?
*flails some more, just for good measure*
Book source: Review copy via Netgalley.