I finally got around to re-reading Betraying Season, the sequel to Bewitching Season, and now I remember why I was so reluctant to tackle this one again. Not only is it not particularly good, but it’s also weird. If the first book is a pleasant afternoon tea in a sunlit parlor, then the sequel is more like gnawing on stale fried chicken by the light of the full moon–odd, unsatisfying, and more than a little off-putting to witness.
After her twin sister marries at the end of Bewitching Season, Penelope Leland travels with her former governess to Ireland to study magic. Pen feels terrible because, after neglecting her studies for far too long, she was unable to help save the young Queen Victoria’s life in the Leland Sisters’ previous adventure. While staying in Cork, Pen meets the intimidating Lady Keating and her children, haughty and vicious Dioreann and charming Niall. Pen finds herself falling for Niall, but there’s more to their whirlwind romance than meets the eye. As she’s drawn deeper into both Lady Keating’s plans and the strange magic of Ireland, Pen becomes overwhelmed by her conflicting desires.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
I had two major issues with Betraying Season. The first is the huge tonal shift from the previous book. Not only do we get very little of Persy–instead, we’re treated to Niall’s POV–but the entire system of magic has changed in this book. In Bewitching Season, magic is treated as essentially a science based on certain rules and limited by the caster’s will. In this book, there are goddesses and faeries and ghosts. There’s also a surprising amount of frank discussion about menstrual cycles and premarital sex.
Which, conveniently, brings me to the other issue. Marissa Doyle seems to have a messed-up idea of romance. In the first book, Miss Allardyce (the girls’ governess) is abducted and held against her will for weeks by an Irish wizard embroiled in a plot to harm Princess Victoria. The fact that the wizard is a reluctant accomplice doesn’t make their subsequent romance between them any more palatable.
The romance in Betraying Season is even more distasteful. When his mother commands Niall to make Pen fall in love with him, he’s willing enough to charm her. It’s a familiar enough plot–a man wooing a woman under false pretenses but falling for her despite himself–but then things get gross. Niall discovers that his mother intends to use Pen as part of a ritual to murder Queen Victoria, but the plan will only work if Pen remains a virgin. He tries seducing her, and when she says no, he decides to try forcing himself on her. A hero willing to rape the heroine “for her own good” is not cool. It’s not romantic, and it’s certainly not the kind of thing that makes me root for a happy ever after ending for those two crazy kids. He’s a spineless shitweasel, is what I’m saying, and it would have been a much more satisfying conclusion if Pen had remained single.
There are two more books in this series, a prequel and a final novella. I hate leaving series unfinished…but I don’t know if I’m going to continue with these books.
Emperor Cupcake’s Rating System Explained:
1 Star: This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.
2 Stars: Not great, Bob.
3 Stars: The emperor is pleased. You may live.
4 Stars: Ooh, shiny!
5 Stars: *Incoherent, high-pitched fan-girling*