Title: The Betrayer: Baltin Trilogy Book 2
Author: Melissa Riddell
Genre: Science Fiction Romance / Post Apocalyptic / Alien Invasion
The Betrayer continues the story of Tilly Morgan and Jareth Averon, the leader of the aliens who unleashed a deadly virus on Earth to prepare it for their occupation. Now that Tilly knows who Jareth is, she’s returning to Earth to find her sister and sort out her feelings, but before she can do either, what remains of the Air Force captures her, helped by Jareth’s alien nemesis.
The book follows her attempt to get free and her difficult choice between protecting her sister and her dog, Kodiak, and betraying Jareth to his enemies. But there’s more to Jareth than she knows, and what she learns about him could change everything…even her feelings.
Tilly is as strong willed and vibrant as ever while Jareth is more vulnerable. The book lets Tilly and the reader get to know more about his past, focusing on emotions rather than the physical settings this time. Still, there are clear indications of where Tilly is and what she’s experiencing, outwardly. Her interactions with those around her are fitting and true to her character, and her first person, present tense narrative style reflects how she looks at the world.
The plot feels a bit disconnected at times, to where it feels like a necessary link between two novels rather than a series of natural events in the character’s lives, to where it is more about providing the background for whatever the characters are going to do and need to be equipped to do in the next book than a standalone experience.
Sparky, the robot who is starting to learn to have his own identity, doesn’t appear as much as he did in the first book, nor does Kodiak, as Tilly spends quite a bit of the book away from her dog, either in the Air Force base or with Jareth, but the scenes between her and Jareth sizzle with a satisfying relational and physical chemistry. Even though the romance heats up, most everything is left to the reader’s imagination, but her vocabulary keeps this book in the New Adult range, as she regularly uses expletives to express her frustration.
There are places where more editorial polish could help, and like with the first book, there are times when it feels like the book spends chapters on Tilly’s emotional turmoil when far less would still convey her struggles and yet keep the story moving. Similarly, the plot can feel a trifle contrived, especially when Tilly seems to ignore part of Jareth’s message so she can agonize over her decision instead of realizing what he said.
Perfect for readers who love a messy relationship and a deep, intense romance, this book continues a series that is rich in passion, realistic about the challenges of love, and full of fun. The characters are complex and well-drawn, true to life and remarkably vivid, and the adventure is fresh and intriguing. This novel offers a heart-wrenching journey into the troubled, jealous, and hurting—and yet arrogant, teasing, and delightful—soul of an alien sure to draw readers in and keep them hoping for a happy ending.
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