See The Cover For Spring's Must-Read YA Debut

By Kerri Jarema

Debut author Erin Beaty's The Traitor's Kiss is one of the most hotly anticipated young adult fantasy reads of 2017, and for good reason.

The book follows the sharp-tongued Sage Fowler as she navigates a world where she doesn't quite belong. Her unruly temper does not befit a lady and makes her unfit for marriage. Though that's quite alright with Sage, it won't fly in her uncle's household, and he ships her off to be apprenticed to a matchmaker. There, Sage is tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances―which also involves spying on the girls and the soldiers escorting them. But the girls' military escort soon senses a political uprising, and 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 the kingdom.

As if that didn't already sound like a swoon-worthy, fast-paced thrill ride of a fantasy novel, there's another outrageously cool aspect to consider. Erin Beaty's first career was not novelist―it was weapons officer in the United States Navy. If you had any reason to doubt the authenticity of the combat action and sensitive spying going on in this novel, it's high time to squash those worries.

OK, so you're probably feeling like you can't wait any longer to get your hands on this one. We're with you, and we've got good news and bad news. The bad news is that The Traitor's Kiss won't hit shelves until May 9, 2017. The good news? We've got the insanely gorgeous cover reveal right here!

But the cover is not the only thing we've got to tide you over until May. We got to speak to Erin Beaty and we were not surprised to find that her story is just as interesting as any we've read in a book:

"People often ask me how being a weapons officer in the navy led to writing young adult fantasy novels, and for a long time, my response was just a laugh and a goofy shrug," Beaty says. "The truth was, I had no idea how to answer that question. There never seemed to be a logical, linear progression-or even a regression-between those accomplishments, even with a stay-at-home mom stint in between. I finally realized they were just different manifestations of who I am at my very core. They were two (of several) ships on the surface that everyone could see, held in place by the same anchor. It’s also why no one who knew me was really surprised."

But although the career moves might not be linear, Beaty's own upbringing and her fierce take on gender inequality definitely had something to do with it.

"We talk a lot today about gender privilege and how damaging the phrase 'you can’t do that because you’re a girl' is to both sexes. I totally agree. Growing up, I think the greatest advantage I had was that that belief did not exist in my home. Oh sure, those people made me mad. I probably went home and repeated that to my parents at some point, and I imagine their reaction nipped that idea in the bud. It must have happened pretty early, too, because as many times as I remember being told 'girls can’t do that,' I never recall considering it might be true. It never damaged my inner sense of self."

As a teen, reading books from authors like Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley, and even Jane Austen, offered Beaty heroines with the same core values she possessed―the passion to control their own happiness, whatever it took, whatever the cost. Beaty later went on to serve in the Naval Academy and major in engineering.

"It was easy to prove that being female wasn’t a liability because I never, ever believed it myself," she says.

But, why the change from naval officer to writer? Beaty's got a great answer for that, too.

"If I could give teens today anything, it would be that same unshakable foundation. My kids have it, but unfortunately, not everyone can get that from their family. But they can find it in books. And that’s why I write."

The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty, $10.79, Amazon