The Betrothed by Keira Cass
HarperCollins, 2020. ISBN: 9780008158828.
(Age: Young Adult). Keira Cass fans have been eagerly awaiting for The Betrothed since the last book in her hugely popular The Selection series was published in 2016. Unfortunately, they may be disappointed when they read it. Unlike the author's previous works which focused on a Bachelor-style love contest set in a post-dystopian America, The Betrothed is a historical romance pivoting on a much maligned YA trope - the love triangle.
King Jameson declares his love for Lady Hollis Brite, a noblewoman who has grown up around the King, constantly vying for his attention. While initially delighted to have been singled out by the monarch, during their courtship Hollis meets Silas, an artisan from a refugee family that has fled a neighbouring country. Hollis is drawn to Silas, despite her inital attempts to resist him and when King Jameson proposes to her she must decide whether being queen is what she truly wants in life.
While the novel begins intriguingly and promises a fun romp, it soon devolves into cliche after cliche as Hollis 'ums and ahs' over what she should do and who she should choose. A frustrating ending is the unfortunate cherry on top for this disappointing plotline.
A positive for the novel is Cass' easy-to-read style. As in The Selection, her prose is frothy and bubbly; well suited to her target young adult audience. There are also some well-developed secondary characters who make for enjoyable reading. However, readers who were initially ecstatic for the start of a new Keira Cass series may find themselves reluctant to continue reading further. Themes: Love, Royalty, Friendship, Identity.