By Colleen W

“In the end, we made enemies with our heads, but we unmade them with our hearts.”

*Note: This review will be spoiler free until otherwise indicated later on 🙂

Kiera Cass has recently re-launched herself into YA’s radar, with the news of The Selection movie and the release of the first novel in her new duology, The Betrothed. I was excited to read The Betrothed, as I enjoyed The Selection a fair amount and really loved The Siren. I like that her books are quick reads, and can be mildly addicting even if the characters, writing, or world-building aren’t the most noteworthy out there. 

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When The Betrothed arrived in the mail, I started it almost immediately. Virtually as quickly, I discovered that this book would likely not be my favorite Kiera Cass creation. 

I love fantasy worlds and the unique cultures, histories, and stories I can uncover when an entire book is set somewhere completely new. The map in the front of the book gave me hope! Unfortunately, we truly only focus on two countries, and even then, our main character, Hollis Brite, spends 90% of the book at the royal palace or in her family manor. There’s plenty of casual mention of other locations and peoples, but no lush descriptions or importance to them.

Speaking of lackluster descriptions, the cast of characters in The Betrothed all seemed to be missing some final piece of themselves. Hollis, King Jameson, Delia Grace (Hollis’s friend), and Silas (the synopsis-mentioned heart-stealer), were relatively bland. Parts and pieces were entertaining, and while Hollis and characters met later in the story (no spoilers) had their touching moments, the overall story didn’t feel driven by them. Events sort of just fall into place around them. 

Now, the romance. Isn’t that the main reason we all came here? To read about a girl torn between a king and a dashingly attractive forbidden lover? Well, that sort of happened? The love triangle didn’t feel as back-and-forth as I would have hoped. There is very little scandal or complications with Hollis’s feelings minus her inability to identify them. That being said, both Jameson and Silas have enough of a way with words to make you feel Hollis’s torn sentiments, so it wasn’t a complete loss.

Overall, I didn’t love or hate The Betrothed. It sits sort of in the middle realm of “I read this in a day and had emotions like twice but likely won’t read it again”. The book improved as I progressed through it, though, and I’m hopeful that the sequel will delve more into the characters and the world. If you’re a fan of Kiera Cass or royal romance and court intrigue, I recommend giving this book a go! But if you like a lot of depth, expansive world building, and intense romance, this may not be the book for you.

Here are some notable quotes that I really enjoyed!

“The most valuable thing you can own is the assurance of your place in someone’s heart.”

“In the end, we made enemies with our heads, but we unmade them with our hearts.”

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I’m just going to give a few spoilery thoughts because most of my feelings were depicted above.

  1. I didn’t feel any chemistry between Hollis and Jameson. He started out okay, and turned out terrible, then was okay again?? I don’t know, we don’t learn anything about him except he reeeaaaaalllllyyyy likes Hollis. 
  2. Hollis’s and Delia Grace’s friendship felt forced to me and I much preferred her interactions with Valentina, Scarlet and the other Eastoffes.
  3. I was happy when Hollis fled with Silas, and had hope that his tiny, sweet seed of personality would grow into a full fledged character once he married Hollis. Then all my hope went up in flames. Literally. 
  4. The house fire scene really did hit me hard. The moment real relationships and chemistry began to form for me, everyone who I was getting to know or anyone nearing a redemption arc died. The other scene that got me was Hollis’s graveside goodbye to Silas. I felt that sorrow and genuinely wished I cared as much about Silas as Hollis did. 
  5. The Dark Knights and the mysteries of Isolte kept me in this series for the long haul. I really hope that the tragedy of the manor will spur Hollis into taking action.
  6. I love the color palette of the book (is that strange?). All golds and reds and glitter and blues… it just felt pretty for some reason. All of the sunshine compliments directed at Hollis fit the theme and I can’t wait for her to become some sort of symbolically rising sun in a new world or something like that. 
  7. I related so hard to the struggle of fancy long sleeves. That running joke made me smile.
  8. The gold handkerchief moment got me.
  9. Anyone else think Hollis is actually Isolten? 

I think that about wraps it up! You can count on me reading the sequel to this book out of sheer hope for where it can go. I’ll talk to you about it then!