Confession: I am over forty but enjoy reading young adult novels. Sure, I can use the fact I have three teenage nieces and a nephew as my excuse for reading them. After all, there are plenty of books out there about things like demons, werewolves, vampires, and more. And then there are the books that go too far with the physicality between the characters. But honestly, even when those kids are off to college, I will still read young adult books.
Book two of the Valiant Hearts series by Dina Sleiman is Allen’s story. If you read Dauntless (or even read my review), then you’ll remember the boy whose interest in the leader of the forest outlaws was unrequited. Now, Allen has grown in physical stature, knowledge, and ability. He still feels drawn to the land of North Brittania where we hopes to make a way for himself as a knight.
Upon his arrival, he meets Gwendolyn Barnes and is immediately drawn to the tall, blonde beauty. But when he is asked to choose between duty and love, he believes he is doing God’s will by following the leading of the counsel.
Gwen longs for adventure. Her brothers allowed her to train along beside them as they grew into knights. But now they are gone and Gwen’s father insists she marry a brute exactly like him. Her opinion of marriage shifts when she meets a kind knight and dreams of a future. One that she must release when the Duke is murdered.
I love Gwen’s strength and determination in this book. Without giving anything away, she makes a couple of decisions that no woman would normally choose during this time. Yet, her heart is vulnerable. She cares for her friends, her brothers, and her mother, she cares for the children in her village, and she comes to care for Allen. When there is a difficult task ahead, Gwen approaches it with courage.
As Allen walks a fine line between duty and pride, he loses his way. He must marry one woman when his heart belongs to another. And when danger comes to his friend Merry, he must choose between angering the counsel or saving his friend. When he takes his eyes off God, his steps veer from the path laid out before him.
Over all, this book was fast-paced and enjoyable. My one complaint is the love triangle thing showing up again in the second book. Thankfully, it’s different enough that it isn’t too off-putting. And I felt for Allen, Gwen, and Rosalind (Gwen’s maid and the third point of view in this story).
****Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions are my own.