The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. PearsonThe Heart of Betrayal Published by Henry Holt and Co. on July 7th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Royalty, Action & Adventure
Pages: 470
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Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!
Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia’s erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.
Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there’s Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country… and her own destiny.

It should be noted that I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Kiss of Deception but I found the ending so promising that I really wanted to give this series another chance.
If you loved The Kiss of Deception, don’t let this review make you anxious, I’m pretty sure you will like this one more than the first. If you are like me however, and thought TKoD was very meh then this review is for you. To summarize: I was hoping THoB would remedy many things I disliked in TKoD but that didn’t happen unfortunately.
Warning: This review contains spoilers for the first installment in the Remnant Chronicles series, The Kiss of Deception.

When I picked up The Heart of Betrayal I had expectations (as you do with second installments).
Expectation #1: Lia, who is now being forced to enter Venda, will mature and develop as she has to learn to adapt to her new surroundings. Whatever the outcome, she will come out of it wiser and more patient.
→ Wrong. In the first 10% of the book or so it actually seemed like this would happen. Lia kept her mouth shut and kept telling the reader how she was going to wait for the right moment before she acted. She kept saying how she was going to play the game better then everyone else. As you might guess, I was excited. I was thinking of what happened in The Winner’s Crime. Unfortunately, Lia doesn’t even come close to the calibre that is Kestrel. From that point onward, Lia actually seemed to regress, becoming her old, impulsive, reckless self. Now, I actually really liked Lia in the first book; there is nothing inherently wrong with a character being impulsive and a little reckless (as long as they aren’t stupid) BUT I need to see that a character learns from their mistakes and changes. Lia did neither.
Expectation #2: The first novel was focused on the love triangle. It was all about boy issues and kissing. Surely, the second one will take a very different route; the romance will fade into the background as more interesting and important matters come into play.
→ Wrong. This book still has entirely too much romance and entirely too little of everything else. How Lia still manages to expend so much brainpower on her men in this life and death situation is beyond me.
Expectation #3: In the first book, Kaden and Rafe blended together for me. I didn’t care about either one. However, there is more opportunity in this one to make me choose one over the other. One of them (if not both) will grow on me. Kaden will show his badass side and actually become a man worthy of the title assassin.
→ Wrong. The love triangle is worse than ever, I hated it even more than in the first book. I wanted to punch both Kaden and Rafe in the face. One says that in a good love triangle, the reader hops between love interests because they don’t know which one to chose. Well, this happened to me here. I truly couldn’t chose. Which one I disliked more.
I genuinely thought I would fall for Kaden because come on, he’s an assassin, I always seem to like the bad guys. He has to choose between the girl he loves and the loyalty to his kingdom. That’s romantic, right? Except that Kaden was so freaking gullible and weak-willed that he made me want to scream. He’s supposedly an incredibly skilled assassin. Apparently. I have yet to see proof of this. In this book, he is still just a boy who can’t do his job and is too busy making googly-eyes at Lia instead of seeing through her charade. Oh, and of course he has a tragic past that justifies all his actions *rolls eyes*
Rafe was slightly better, at least he wasn’t as naive and pathetic as Kaden, but I still couldn’t get myself to like him. He kind of bored me, just like in the first book and he made some seriously stupid decisions all in the name of love.
Expectation #4: What made TKoD a little more tolerable than some other YA fantasies was the fact that Lia wasn’t really a special snowflake. Yes, she is a princess but she is also a normal girl. Has flaws and supposedly doesn’t possess the gift. This notion will be maintained in the second book.
→ Wrong. In this one, Lia becomes the most special of all special snowflakes. Both Kaden and Rafe love her with unwavering devotion and are willing to sacrifice everything for her even though they only met her a few months earlier. The people of Venda love Lia even though she is “enemy swine”. She is the one who has the gift and is prophesized to save the kingdoms. How original.
Expectation #5: The plot is going too be more fast-paced and action-packed since Lia is now in enemy territory.
→ Not really. The plot is slightly more exciting than in the first book (which really isn’t very difficult) but it still retains the meandering, slow-going quality. This isn’t always bad but in this case it just felt like a let-down. The book should have been exciting and suspenseful but it wasn’t until the very end (much like TKoD).
Expectation #6: We’re going to get more world-building and insight into the political structure of the kingdoms.
→ Not really. There are some well-written descriptions of Venda and how the kingdom works and we do get a tiny bit of politics. However, this is not enough for establishing an intricate political “chess game” or creating real suspense.
Expectation #7: In this one, things will actually make sense.
→ Wrong. I can’t say too much because of spoilers but some of the things that happen in this book are very unlikely and illogical. The way Lia gets through with everything she does. The way nobody ever questioned her motives. The fact that Rafe wasn’t found out. It just all seemed very convenient.
Despite my very negative review, The Heart of Betrayal isn’t a terrible book. The writing is still quite lovely (though Mary E. Pearson overuses similes in my opinion), the plot overall is somewhat entertaining and Lia is still a character I can root for. The ending surprised me. However, I cannot say that I really liked this book, which is why I gave it this rating.

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