As I’ve mentioned before, I prefer to read books in paperback and because of that the wait for a novel can sometimes be long since not ever book is published in paperback right away. This is the case with The Remnant Chronicles
, were I had to wait some time for the first installment, The Kiss of Deception
, and even longer for the sequel, The Heart of Betrayal
. I’m so glad to finally have it in my hands;
In the first installment, Princess Lia flees her wedding day and leaves the Prince of Dalbreck at the alter in the hope of finding her true love. Instead Lia ends up working as a tavern maid in a seaside town with two guys veering for her attention. One is an assassin sent to kill her and the other is the prince she fled from. Lia does not know this and develops feelings for one of the guys, right before choosing to return to the royal palace in the hope of setting everything right with the wedding and the allegiance with Dalbreck after realizing her duty to her kingdom. But on her way back Lia is abducted by the assassin, Kaden, who turns out to be from the enemy kingdom of Venda. Along with a handful of comrades, Kaden brings Lia with him to his home and leaves Lia’s lover, Rafe, the Prince of Dalbreck, with the only choice of going after her in the hopes that he can save her. But the only thing Rafe can do when he finally finds her is following her, along with Kaden and an army of Vendans, into hostile territory, hoping that he and Lia can manage to break out.
The sequel takes off right were the first book ended, with Lia and Rafe entering Venda. It is a land full of blood, murder and barbarians and Lia is afraid that they won’t even survive the night, especially not after her first meeting with the legendary Komizar. But after a while living in Venda and getting to know the people, Lia realizes that not everyone is a barbarian and that many are just fighting for survival. Her heart softens for this broken kingdom but she knows that she’s still living there on pardon and that both she and Rafe can be killed any day. They need to leave, but it seems impossible to break out of the kingdom. And can Lia really leave the place she’s grown fond of, the people she cares for, and Kaden?
I remember reading The Kiss of Deception the first time thinking it was amazing and then rereading it a few weeks ago ending up a little disappointed since it wasn’t quite as good as I recalled. I remember longing for The Heart of Betrayal since July last year and waiting for the day that I finally had a copy in my hand. After rereading The Kiss of Deception I was afraid that The Heart of Betrayal wouldn’t be as good as I’d hoped last year but I didn’t end up disappointed here. It’s true that many of the things that bothered me with my rereading of The Kiss of Deception still was present, like the writing. Mary E. Pearson isn’t a bad writer at all but I think the stories lacks a certain flow and I did get caught a few times with sentences I had to go back to and read again. I also lacked more detailed descriptions of the landscapes and surroundings of the characters and sometimes felt that certain parts, when Pearson told something in present, then jumped back into the past for a few sentences and then returned to the present, could’ve been clearer. Sometimes I got confused as to what was happening now and what had happened, told as a memory.
The story itself is definitely intriguing with the feisty princess Lia leading the way and with prince Rafe silently making planes beside her and the ever-interesting Kaden always looming in the shadows. Like the previous book, The Heart of Betrayal is told in alternating chapters between the three of them, all in first person, with a few chapters from Lia’s friend Pauline’s point of view as well. Most of the story is from the eyes of Lia however and we get to see her try to navigate the new world she’s in, much more savage than anything she’s left behind but also full of love, trust and bravery. Venda is not at all what she imagined it would be and neither is the scary Komizar she’s heard so much about. If anything, Lia soon realizes that her hate for Venda and its people might be very, very misplaced. Kaden, a guy she cared for and who deceived and betrayed her, also shows another side and Lia is again struck by how everything isn’t what it looks like at a first glance.
I liked how Pearson made Lia so strong and brave but at times I found her to be too much. She took to Venda fast and the people accepted her surprisingly fast as well. This has an explanation in the book but I still thought it felt a little weird. On top of that, Lia has a temper which can be fun at times but mostly was just annoying. She knows she needs to be careful and yet somethings she explodes anyway. I was struck by how often she got the people on her side and how many liked her even though she was everything the Vendans were taught to hate. The same can be said of Rafe and Kaden, who both love her, and I can’t really see why. It felt like Lia just entered a room and everyone threw themselves at her feet and loved her instantly but I, as a reader, couldn’t quite see why and certainly didn’t love her as much as most of the characters did.
When it came to the two guys I have to say that Kaden took me by surprise. I had a soft spot for Rafe throughout the first novel but my feelings changed during the second. Rafe is still a great guy and one I like very much but I can’t help but feel for Kaden. He had a tough childhood and the Komizar was the one who saved him and now he’s drawn between his friendship with the Komizar and the love he feels for Lia. She, who only have eyes for Rafe, ends up using Kaden when she deems it necessary and even though she says she cares for him he’s still left hurt again and again. Whatever happens to Kaden in the third book I hope it’s justice for everything he had to endure during this one.
I actually never feared that The Heart of Betrayal would have Second Book Syndrome and it certainly didn’t. It was filled with action and tense moments along with a very tricky love story which Pearson carefully treaded, something that allowed for the tension to grow. I was overall happy with the book, happy but not entirely satisfied, mostly because I still want to know what’s going to happen in the next one. It is painful that the paperback won’t come out until late next summer and I am yet again considering bypassing my principles and getting the hardback just because I’m not sure I can handle a whole year without knowing what’s going to happen when the book is actually already on sale. If you haven't already figured it out, I obviously find this series entertaining and certainly recommend it!