Betrayed, by Jamie Leigh Hansen

>> Monday, June 15, 2009

TITLE: Betrayed
AUTHOR: Jamie Leigh Hansen

PAGES: 336

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Paranormal Romance
SERIES: Starts one.


A love found at first glance can last for lifetimes...

This is their last chance. After nine loveless lives and nine horrible deaths, Kalyss must save Dreux from his stone prison--or pass without him into an empty eternity.

When two strangers violently enter her life, Kalyss's gift awakens--along with the memory of her past lives--and she must learn who she can trust in order to break the cycle of hatred and betrayal that has held them captive for centuries. For only then can she free Dreux from his prison of stone.

But will Kalyss be strong enough, now that the last chance has arrived--now that she must face not only the pain of this life, but of all her lives before?
Betrayed promised to be a kind of paranormal there's not much currently around of... no creatures, just human beings caught in a curse and struggling to break out of it. It did deliver on that, but didn't quite capture my imagination.

The real beginning of this story takes place in the 11th century. His mind poisoned by his mother's lies, Kai decides to take revenge against him half-brother, Dreux, and kills him and his wife, Kynedrithe. However, a larger force intervenes, and the three of them, plus one of Dreux's knights, who'd unwittingly betrayed him, are caught in a seemingly neverending cycle.

Dreux is turned into a statue, while Kynedrithe gets reincarnated every time she dies, having the purpose of freeing Dreux in each and every new lifetime. As for Kai and Geoffrey (Dreux's knight), they find they simply cannot die. They resurrect each time they do, and so spend their time on their own missions: Kai's being to prevent Kynedrithe from awakening and saving Dreux, Geoffrey's being to aid her in doing so.

And so we reach the present day. Kynedrithe is on her 10th reincarnation, her previous 9 having all ended in tragedy. She's now called Kalyss, and has no conscious memories of her past lives. The memories of her more recent past are bad enough, as she is a survivor of an extremely abusive marriage. After escaping that situation, she's become a fighter, and even teaches self-defense.

When a strange man attacks her in her gym, and another rescues her and uses her long-denied psychic abilities to give her instructions to escape and get to Dreux, Kalyss is plunged back into the cycle. But this time she's different, and she and Dreux suddenly have a real shot at getting out of it for good.

It sounds interesting, doesn't it? It's the kind of book where if you think objectively about the plot and about the character, you think you should have loved it.

There's an intriguing set up and pacing that never drags, but still leaves the characters plenty of down-time in which to fall in love again. Which they do, it's not a matter of just picking up where they left off 1000 years before. Kalyss is a different person now, shaped by her past into someone a lot stronger than Kynedrithe. Dreux has to deal with that, and it's to his credit that although he loved his medieval wife, he loves what's she's become even better. There's subtlety in the feelings and there's a well-drawn cast of secondary characters.

But for some reason... I didn't love it. I didn't really dislike it, either. It just left me cold, I suppose, enough that I don't feel at all tempted to read the next book. Weird. I don't even have any specific criticism, other than the two following details.

First, the presence of something larger... angels and nephilims or whatever they were, manipulating and watching the action, felt completely unnecessary. That aspect of the world wasn't adequately explained, and I think removing it altogether wouldn't have affected the heart of the story at all. Everything would have still been completely understandable. I think it felt as if its only purpose was a bit of sequel baiting (ohh, now Maeve's free, danger is coming!).

Also, it might sound petty, but the names annoyed the bloody hell out of me. Dreux is bad enough, in its faux-Medieval, trying-hard-but-not-succeeding to sound French way, but Kalyss? Kynedrithe?? Holy made-up name, Batman! Where did those come from, Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing? The "my heroine's so speshul she needs a speshul name" vibe made me roll my eyes. *Sigh* Sorry, sorry, that's a bit ranty. Wow, I didn't know I felt that strongly about it! Anyway, I promise I'm not letting this affect my grade.

I would actually recommend this book to other readers, as I suspect it was just something about the tone that didn't hit the right note for me. If you do try it, do let me know how you felt, ok?



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