By Sara B Larson
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Source: NetgalleySummary: A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.
Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.
The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?
Review: Oh man, I've been looking forward to reading this book for MONTHS. I was so excited about the prospect of a love triangle between the best friend and the prince with a girl pretending to be a boy who was one of the best soldiers of the king's guard. While the book was definitely a good read, it just didn't live up to my expectations.
When Alexa's parents died when she was 14, she and her twin brother are left to fend for themselves in their country on the verge of war. The only way they can survive is for Alexa to disguise herself as a boy and enter into the army with her brother. Three years later, Alexa and her brother are at the top of the King's guard, and Alexa has proven to be the best fighter while concealing her true identity. But when Alexa is captured with the detestable Prince Damian and her best friend/fellow guard Rylan, the identity she has worked so hard to conceal unravels and she is faced with two men who want her heart.
I was beyond excited for this love triangle. I know some people hate love triangles, but I personally think they can make such good stories if they're done the right way. For this one, I think the summary greatly exaggerated the love triangle. It's more that two guys like her, but she has decided who she loves pretty much from the moment she realizes they like her. There's no real struggle within herself on who she likes, which takes all the fun out of love triangles. While it was still a really sweet romance, I wish there was more drama.
What I wasn't expecting going into this book was so much anticipation revolving around the war and fights the characters get into. You don't really figure out exactly why their nation is at war until well into the book, but knowing that enemies are out there keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire novel. Are they going to survive? Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? Who will live and who will die? People you like will die, which I really admire when authors do that. Yeah, it's sad that some good people die, but it makes the story so much more real.
While this one didn't reach my high expectations, it was still a great YA read. The summary is a bit misleading, but there is still enough romance and action to keep you entertained. And there's even a little bit of magic involved, which is always fun. The ending was a bit anti-climatic and left some things completely unresolved, but I figured out that this is the first book in the series, so I'm not as upset with the ending as I initially was. I'm excited to see how the next book will play out and what will happen with Alexa now that everyone knows her true identity.