The Heart of Betrayal
by Mary E. Pearson
Published July 7th, 2015
Goodreads: See here
Plot at a Glance:
Picking up exactly where The Kiss of Deception left off, The Heart of Betrayal sees Lia and Rafe escorted as prisoners into the kingdom of Venda, a land reknowned for its barbaric treatment of its enemies. Trapped within its walls with little hope of rescue, Lia finds herself forced to engage the Vendan Komizar in a game of wits, where the stakes are life and death and nothing is as it seems.
This one might win the award for toughest review of 2017.
You might remember my earlier review for the first book in the series: The Kiss of Deception, which I loved and showered praise on. While I was really excited to crack into this one, and still really enjoyed it, I felt a little let down.
One of the biggest disappointments to me in this book revolved around the situation Lia found herself in. “But Bentley,” you say, “isn’t that the point of conflict?” Well, yes, but in a way I feel like this book undoes a lot of what I really enjoyed most about the first. Take for example, that dreaded love triangle from book one that just won’t quit.
Lia had essentially made her choice at the end of book 1, and although I knew she would be in close proximity to her potential second love interest, I had hoped she’d moved past him. However, because of the danger of her situation this time around, it actually turns out to be safer for her to pretend to still be interested in this guy, which of course leads to sort of feelings on both ends.
So, in a way Lia loses that powerful agency she had in the first book in favor of prolonging the inevitable. She’s still extremely intelligent and driven as a character, which I love, but she’s no longer making decisions for herself and for her own future. Instead, she feels trapped under the thumb of not one, not two, but three different men in this book, who all want to get into her pants.
During the earliest pages of this book, when I knew we were about to meet the Komizar I was literally sending up prayers that he would turn out to be either old or ugly, or a combination of both. Of course when he’s introduced he’s young, hungry and just as handsome as the other two men in Lia’s life. You can pretty much guess where that storyline goes from page one. A lot of my friends who read this book seemed to love the Komizar. I mostly hated him. I felt like Lia was really hampered by her connection to him and cringed every time I realized he was going to be in a scene.
It just felt a little bit tired to me. I wanted more exploration of Venda and more politicking between the kingdoms, but instead this sort of sophomore slumped for me into a romantic story set in a fantasy world.
I will give Mary Pearson the same commendation I awarded her for the first book. Her writing skills are top notch. She has a masterful command of prose and dialogue. I feel like she’s sort of unfairly categorized in Young Adult to be honest, when her prose seems a bit stronger than the typical books you’d find in the genre. I think she’d do quite well writing fantasy novels for adults at some point in her career.
I don’t mean to sound like I hated this book – on the contrary, it was still quite engaging. I did enjoy learning more about Venda, and exploring all its hidden secrets alongside Lia. I also took a shine to a few of the ancillary characters that Lia bumped into from time to time. There is a lot here still to love, and I am sure that this book was building up to some major events that are going to take place during the final installment. I simply kept going back and forth on how I felt about it while reading.
I just hope book 3 moves past all the love triangle drama and really engages in the story I’m most interested in: Lia continuing her journey of self discovery both of her gift, and of her strengths as a woman who doesn’t need to chain herself to a man in order to survive.
🌟🌟🌟🌟✩ = 4 stars out of 5!
Have you read this? How did you feel about book 2 compared to book one? Without spoiling me, do you think I’ll enjoy book 3?