Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save Lia’s life, her 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 savages. Now that she lives among 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. (Via Goodreads)
I really enjoyed The Heart of Betrayal. It was fast-paced with a levelheaded heroine. This will be brief since I want to start The Beauty of Darkness.
This time we find ourselves in the dreaded land of Venda with Lia as a hostage and a prisoner. She is surrounded by people who would much rather see her dead. Her captor, Kaden is under the misguided notion that despite being taken to a kingdom responsible for killing her brother, somehow she would fall in love with him (excuse me while I go throw up) More on him later. Then there was Rafe, the prince who pretended he was a farmer, but he follows Lia only thinking of trying to save her, even if it meant going into enemy territory by himself. We finally meet the Komizar and while there are instances where the reader can see the man he was, the man he is in the present is someone who is ruthless and hungry for power.
The Heart of Betrayal was fast-paced and engrossing. Most of the chapters were from Lia’s perspective but there were some that were from Rafe and Kaden’s point of view and the odd chapter from Pauline’s perspective. The world building is good and the characters are excellent, especially the secondary characters. They were memorable and you couldn’t help but care about them. Pearson made the kingdom of Venda more hospitable through the people who greet Lia, from the servants to the various clans. We come to care for these weary and hardy people, they are far from the monsters that the other kingdoms think them to be.
I loved the characters. I really liked Lia, she was cunning and willing to bide her time. She was willing to play on the insecurities of those who had captured her. She was playing the long game. She used the gift to her advantage and also gained the loyalty of the clans and those believed in the Gift.
Kaden was someone I wanted to hit on the head repeatedly for his obliviousness. He was convinced that Lia would fall in love with him and she could live out her life in Venda. This couldn’t be further from the truth. She was constantly in danger, if not from the other councillors, then from the Komizar himself. And yet Kaden refused to see what was in front of him.
Rafe, in contrast was like a breath of sunshine. He played his part and he too played the long game. Gaining the trust of those around him. And while, he had moments of being overprotective towards the Lia, he soon saw sense and trusted her to take care of herself.
I was initially concerned about a love triangle but thankfully, Lia chose Rafe and stuck with him. And truly, in my opinion there was no competition. One kidnapped her while the other rode into certain danger to try and rescue her, was I meant to conflicted?
Starting The Beauty of Darkness now, can’t wait to see how that turns out.