Title: The Betrothed
Series: The Betrothed #1
Author: Kiera Cass
Genre: YA, Romance
Published: May 5th, 2020 (HarperTeen)
Synopsis: The young king of Coroa has never been the type to settle down—that is, until he meets Hollis Brite.
Hollis has grown up at the castle, among the other daughters of nobility who hoped beyond hope that they’d catch the king’s eye. So when King Jameson declares his love for her, Hollis is shocked—and thrilled.
But she soon realizes that along with the extravagant presents and fawning attention, this new life brings outsized expectations—expectations that make her wonder if she’s really cut out for life as a royal.
And when she meets an Isolten stranger with the mysterious power to see right into her heart, she starts to wonder: Is there more to life outside the palace walls?
Thank you to the publisher, HarperTeen, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Lady Hollis Brite is on the verge of having her dreams come true. King Jameson of Coroa, has all but declared her his future queen, something she has always hoped for, having grown up in Keresken Castle amongst other daughters of nobility with the exact same aim. But while her elevation in status comes with many luxuries and honours, Hollis begins to realize the weight of expectations and responsibilities that will also fall on her shoulders with this step into royal life. When the Isolten Eastoffe family comes to court to seek refuge and settle in Coroa, she meets the mysterious Silas Eastoffe and starts to wonder if there is a life outside the palace for her, better than the one she has always striven for, where she can be something more than an ornament to the throne.
Well. This is rather unfortunate. Often, when I love a book or series and then read a new book by the same author, it doesn’t measure up. So I was a little uncertain about this, since The Selection (which in my mind is only the first three books – let’s not talk about the other two) is a series I go back to reread even today. If I hadn’t read The Selection, I might have enjoyed this more – but not by much.
Hollis is mostly just boring, but she does have things she enjoys and is passionate about. What makes me most incredulous about her character is that she is realizing the pitfalls and downsides of royal life only now, when she is possibly weeks away from being betrothed to the king – and this is really hard to believe considering it is mentioned that she grew up at court. Delia Grace on the other hand, would have made for a much more interesting central character, with both her actions and motivations being suspect at best. Jameson remains as a largely unknown factor, and his character arc has the potential to be very interesting as it could go in multiple directions as things stand at the end of this book.
The remaining characters are all one-dimensional at best, particularly Hollis’ parents, whose main purpose seems to be to appear every few chapters to scold their daughter for whatever mistake she has made now, which is literally the sum of their interactions. There is a hint at a warmer relationship with her mother, but that is never explored. Silas is nice enough, I suppose, but we hardly get to know him either. All in all, the character development is lacking, which in turn, leads to no feeling of connection to any of the characters. I’m hoping that the sequel takes the opportunity provided by the sharp turn of events to build more on Hollis’ personality.
The worst part however, was the absolutely cringe worthy insta-love. I’m not sure what the exact timeline in this book is, but it can’t be more than a few weeks and about half a dozen conversations between Hollis meeting Silas and her series of ridiculously rash decisions. I get that there are reasons why it is set up this way, but it makes things that much less realistic, especially that Hollis could change her outlook on things and perhaps make one of the biggest decisions of her life that quickly, knowing how the society in Coroa will view her after such a scandal.
That is not to say that there weren’t good things about this book too. For starters, that is one gorgeous cover, which seems to be a common pattern with all of Kiera Cass’ books! The storytelling itself wasn’t all bad, and I felt that Kiera Cass’ writing style has definitely improved. Hollis’ conversations with Valentina were quite interesting, and reveal a lot of truths about the life of a queen to her, although I did find it odd that not only does she take Valentina, a foreign queen very much under her king’s control, at her word, but also automatically assumes that her life would turn out the same way in Coroa, which reveres several of its past queens. Jameson’s attitude at a few times does seem to suggest there could be problems though, and I’m not entirely convinced of his character either – is it just me or does he seem too nice after everything that happened?
The last chapters were really the saving grace of this book, along with the fact that the afore mentioned superfluous parts were mercifully fast-paced. The sudden dark twist to the tale was quite a shock considering the almost lazy feel to the rest of the book. While I would have liked to have had more information about Isolte and the political conditions there, as well as more elaboration on the Darkest Knights, the shock factor of the events undoubtedly hits its mark. Overall, while The Betrothed was definitely not up to the standard of Cass’ previous works, it is definitely entertaining and stirs up enough curiosity that I will be reading the sequel to see how Hollis’ story continues.
The Betrothed releases on May 5th, 2020.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!