She’s captured the king’s heart. But who’s captured hers? #1 New York Times bestselling author Kiera Cass is ready to retake her crown as the queen of YA romance with this sparkling new duology. The young king of Coroa has never been the type to settle down—that is, until he meets Hollis Brite. Hollis has grown up at the castle, among the other daughters of nobility who hoped beyond hope that they’d catch the king’s eye. So when King Jameson declares his love for her, Hollis is shocked—and thrilled. But she soon realizes that along with the extravagant presents and fawning attention, this new life brings outsized expectations—expectations that make her wonder if she’s really cut out for life as a royal. And when she meets an Isolten stranger with the mysterious power to see right into her heart, she starts to wonder: Is there more to life outside the palace walls?
Jameson begins giving Hollis a chance to make decisions with him when they receive a foreign family seeking asylum. It continues when foreign royalty visit, and Hollis accompanies Jameson as he hosts the other King and Queen. As this trip continues, Hollis begins to realize that being queen is not everything she had hoped it would be.
What I loved: The book moves very quickly, and the pacing is fast. Combined with the characterizations, this book feels appropriate for a younger (middle grade, maybe) audience. It's very clean with only a few kisses, and so this would appeal to younger readers as an early romantic read. It is certainly engaging enough to keep reading until the end. This is the biggest strength of the read in that it is interesting and does keep the reader guessing until the end.
What left me wanting more: Hollis comes across as one-dimensional, very naive, and sometimes foolish. She makes brash decisions, and does not question much. I would have liked more oomph behind her character with more motivations and backstory. The same would be helpful for the secondary characters, including Jameson, Delia Grace (who had a lot of potential but fell a bit flat), and Silas (the other love interest). The romance also felt pretty forced, and I would have liked more build-up. Instead, it reads like insta-love and did not feel substantial or solid. Considering the later events, more build-up would have been warranted for the way Hollis takes things.
Final verdict: Engaging and appropriate for a younger audience, THE BETROTHED is an engaging and fast-paced romantic read. Would recommend to younger (middle grade) readers who are looking for royal romances.
Hollis Brite, a 16 year old girl who lives in the royal castle with her parents, is the newest object of the king’s affection. Two things are clear from the beginning: Hollis is not that special (which she knows, so that’s good) and king Jameson is the most flat character in the history of flat characters. At least - in the beginning. We know nothing of him, yet Hollis wants to be with him very much. It’s not instant love, it’s instant ‘want’.
Then there’s Hollis bestie and chamber maiden, Delia Grace. She has more personality than Hollis and Jameson, but she didn’t impress me much. In the end, she was there all for herself, which is okay, but didn’t make me like her that much. Not the best friend she pretended to be, it seems.
Then there’s Silas, the mystery guy from the neighboring country. King Jameson is not a big fan of Silas’ king - King Quinten - and offers Silas and his family refuge at his castle. So naturally, as this is a YA novel, Hollis has an instant interest in him. She feels a connection with him she cannot explain. And now… she has to make a choice.
Even though I wasn’t very impressed with some of the characters, the storyline kept me entertained very well. I finished the book within a weekend, and I wanted to keep reading. There is enough action and romance in the book to keep it interesting, and combined with all the royal drama, The Betrothed is an entertaining read.
As I am not into the historical novels, I cannot comment on the accuracy of the setting. However, the castle felt really real and I think it is described pretty well in the book. Especially the room with the thrones in it, where most important royal scenes take place, is worked out very well.
So overall it was an interesting, entertaining read. The end came as a surprise, so I am guessing there’s a sequel coming out as well. The characters didn’t impress me, but the storyline made up for that. If you like romantic novels in a historical settings, this is your cup of tea!