Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!
Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's 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 barbarians. Now that she lives amongst 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.
"The wind, time, it circles, repeats, some swaths cutting deeper than others."
Nothing is certain anymore in The Heart of Betrayal. Lia is a prisoner in Venda along with Rafe. Her safety is almost forfeit. Her former companions have other intentions. Her jailers are not as barbaric and easy to exploit as she once thought. This book is basically Lia's journey to find a way out of the enemy state - by weaving up lie after lie, whether for herself, or for those she cares, or has come to care about.
Unlike its prequel, you don't really know what will happen next for certain, even though you probably have an idea of it. That's the beauty of this book. You know their intentions. You know their stances and loyalty. You also have a clear idea of their feelings. But there's no telling of their methods to achieve what they want. While the outcome might not be as epic as I visualized, the anticipation is definitely well-made. Enough to earn a 5/5 on Goodreads.
Except I didn't give that score. While complexity among characters is something I always appreciate, the way it is done in The Heart of Betrayal is not the most appealing thing. Sometimes I think Lia, Rafe and Kaden are a bit... bipolar. Some of their actions and thoughts are so separated from their feelings that it is as if I'm reading about some other people. Well, it's not all bad. After all, human actions are mysteries to be resolved. It can be interpreted as a sign of complexity, and that's partly what I did. The real problem is that this phenomenon spirals into an unending cycle. Bipolar, sane, bipolar, sane... it gets tiresome after a while. This is why, despite the book being unpredictable and therefore, exciting to read, I still can't give it a full mark.
Despite their more-than-weird behavior, I still find myself loving all three of them. Lia has gotten mature. She has evolved from a runaway princess yearning for freedom to a royal willing to lay down her life to save those she cares about and those who deserve to live. She can still be a bit reckless, but the two sides of her have been well-balanced in this book. Rafe's faith and feelings for Lia is pretty admirable, more so than in the last book. After all, he's willing to risk his life to get her out of Venda. The sad thing is that there's not much of his point of view in this book, because I'm desperate to know more about his nature. Kaden is the one I do not expect to like. He has told many great lies for his benefit. He has been pretty cruel to Lia in the previous book. His soft spot for Lia and strength is endearing, though. That is not something I'd miss. I've grown to like all three of them. They are great in their own ways.
It's almost impossible to wait for the third book. Goddamn those cliffhangers! The authors cannot expect us to read about cliffhangers and wait for an entire year (sometimes more) for the next book.