The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
With my last dying breath, I would make him regret the day he ever laid eyes on me. — Lia
Ouch. That ending was utterly painful. The last time I felt this way was when I read The Winner’s Crime. There were so many evocative scenes crammed into the last hundred pages. My brother recently asked what’s wrong with me because I couldn’t help but verbally express my shock and indignation at everything that happened to Lia and her comrades. I’m sure as heck going to start The Beauty of Darkness ASAP. However, for now I am obliged to stay sane and somehow justify my love for this book (series).
I wasn’t particularly fond of Lia in The Kiss of Deception, but I was amazed by her character development in this book. All of the pain she went through changed her in all the best ways possible. The harshness of her environment in Venda also contributed to the growth of her inner strength. Lia was like Kestrel of The Winner’s Curse in that she significantly relied on the sharpness of her intelligence (and tongue). However, unlike Kestrel, Lia was also adept at physically defending herself. Adding up all of these factors, Lia was a brilliant example of an empowered female protagonist. She definitely wasn’t someone you could easily trifle with.
This might come as a surprise, but I actually enjoyed Kaden’s characterization. Even though he bugged me to no end, it was intrigued to know the reasons behind his unswerving loyalty to Venda and the Komizar. His backstory was mysterious enough, but I must say that it failed to lessen my hate for him, if not for his title as the Assassin. Every time he was deceived into thinking Lia had romantic feelings for him, I experienced equal degrees of pity and grim satisfaction. I’m not sure if I’ll ever see him as worthy of Lia’s affection. If anything, I liked him only because he made the story more entertaining.
Unsurprisingly, I had no problem with Prince Rafe. From the very first chapter, I fervently wished that his relationship with Lia would push through in spite of their mutual deception in the past. It was clear that Rafe loved Lia not for her title, but for who she really was. I especially admired his self-control because I myself would crack in the presence of despicable men like the Komizar. Rafe prioritized Lia’s safety over his own emotions, and I applauded him for doing so.
The last thing I liked about this book was its infamous villain, the Komizar. As you have probably discerned from the paragraphs above, I absolutely hated him. To be more precise, I loved hating him because he was one of the most horrible villains I’ve encountered in literature. I will never forget how he almost made me cry when he did something to one of Lia’s close companions. There were so many shades to the Komizar’s depravity, and it reflected the author’s talent for creating such complex and meaningful characters.
With all that said, The Heart of Betrayal is an outstanding sequel to The Kiss of Deception. I honestly can’t say anything negative about it because I enjoyed it immensely. I am both afraid and excited to see how Lia’s journey will end.