Thank you to Edelweiss+ and HarperCollins for an eARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review!
When King Jameson declares his love for Lady Hollis Brite, Hollis is shocked—and thrilled. After all, she’s grown up at Keresken Castle, vying for the king’s attention alongside other daughters of the nobility. Capturing his heart is a dream come true.
But Hollis soon realizes that falling in love with a king and being crowned queen may not be the happily ever after she thought it would be. And when she meets a commoner with the mysterious power to see right into her heart, she finds that the future she really wants is one that she never thought to imagine.
While I really enjoyed Cass’ first series, The Selection, it was a romance novel that tried to get politcal and left a lot of plot lines hanging. I still enjoyed the style of writing and that her female MC was a strong and smart girl that could hold her own at court. The Betrothed sounded very similar and I went into it expecting something very similar. Cass has proven me wrong and the ending left me reeling.
Hollis has grown up at court expecting to marry well, but never did she imagine she could be Queen. Just by being herself she has managed to catch the eye of the King along with his affection. While she has shunned most of what society considers proper, she might want to be queen. Past queens are more remembered than kings, staking a claim to the most impactful moments of history and that’s what Hollis strives to be. She’s more than just a pretty face, but can the king see past that like the foreigner who caught her eye and possibly her heart?
Hollis was a different kind of MC. I’m ashamed to say that I thought her ditzy and shallow at the beginning of the novel. Even her closest friend points out how she knows nothing about what’s happening in the kingdom, past or present. Studies were never really her thing. I was like great another shallow female who is only there to catch the heart of the king and known for being pretty and kind. It’s not until the character of Silas is introduced that we get to see that not only is she unafraid of being herself, she is smart and quick in situation while also being good at making people feel safe and that they too can be themselves.
While one can be kind and strong, one can also be used especially if they’re as nice as Hollis was. Her best friend, Delia Grace, rubbed me the wrong way instantly. Hollis with her kind and selfless heart took Delia Grace under her wing despite the nasty court rumors and all that girl did was try to control her life and be a crap friend behind her back. I felt like Hollis had been used and truly had no real friends beyond Scarlett, Silas’ sister. I understand that every eligible girl wanted to catch the eye of the king, very cutthroat business, but Hollis was so unhappy and her best friend just brushed it off. Sounds like a terrible friend to me plus she seemed to rub everyone the wrong way and maybe if she were nicer or a better person people wouldn’t be so mean to her.
There is obviously some romance happening and while front and center it still somehow didn’t feel like a romance novel. There were a few moments sprinkled in here and there but I found myself more focused on Hollis and her personal development. Both romance options seemed a bit insta-lovey. The king is a king and who isn’t romanticized by a crown? Silas saw her and made her think, but I didn’t see any passion.
I originally thought that the political plot of the book took a backseat to the romance but the more I think about it the more I feel like I was more focused on what was happening politically and with Hollis herself. We knew things were going on behind the scenes of what Hollis was introduced to. Some things weren’t really discussed until the end though. Love and marriage were definitely first and foremost to Hollis until suddenly there weren’t. The political plot is going to be a strong one here, especially in book two and I’m really excited to see where Cass takes it. Romance will be taking the backseat from here on out.
The Betrothed was a solid first book in what I’m anticipating to be a very high stakes political drama. It didn’t end on a cliffhanger exactly, but I’ll be anticipating the sequel eagerly for the next year. Hollis was such an intriguing young women and I’m curious to see how the events of book one will shape her in the second book. She’s already coming into her own and is showing people how she’s more than just a pretty face.