Not too long ago, I finished a book called Dauntless by Dina Sleiman. It’s a historical romance fiction, and while I’d love to have amazing things to say about it, as I had high hopes, I have mixed feelings and so I suppose this will be a mixed review.
I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t love it either. But it isn’t because of the writing, so please read on 🙂
Here’s the excerpt from the back of the book:
Though once a baron’s daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village. Dubbed “The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest,” her band of followers soon become enemies of the throne when they hijack ill-gotten gold meant for the king.
Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, will he choose fame or love?
I’ll admit a bias ~ medieval history isn’t my favourite, even though I love historical fiction. Also, I suspect this book would suit better to a young adult genre, and I don’t fit that category. I know that I shouldn’t be limited to what I read, and that’s why I chose this book, but it’s possible that it just straight up isn’t my jam…. though that sentence makes me sound far younger than I am… gosh. I suspect that it would be a great read if I were a little more into the young adult genre as a whole.
I suppose what I didn’t like about it was that I found it took a while to pick up. I was also left with the impression that the men in Merry’s troupe were younger than they were until the story progressed and we found that they were actually young adults. I found some of the writing in the prologue/introduction quite hard to follow, and while it would likely have been closer to what patterns of speech would have sounded like at the time (Robin Hood era England), I had a hard time keeping up with it. I was very thankful that the writing didn’t stay that way. I found the rest of the book though, after those initial pages, to flow quite nicely and the writing style was great. I’m at a bit of a loss though as far as why the first few pages were written differently than the rest of the book.
While I found that it took a while for the book to pick up for me, by about Chapter 10 I was thoroughly invested in the characters ~ especially the kids! I had contemplated not finishing it a bit before then, but it did pick up and I became quite engaged. I found I needed to know how Merry and her friends made out.
I did LOVE that there’s a strong female lead in the book, though, and I love that though she really wanted love, she also saw that she had a role to play in the lives of so many others and she didn’t just flit off at the first available opportunity. Merry has a good heart, and she’s very protective of and loyal to the ones she loves. I loved her for that.
By the end, I devoured the pages quite quickly. I was on a cruise and plowed through the last several chapters between basking in the Caribbean sun and sitting squished on a plane on the way home. My traveling partner wanted to play cards on the plane on the way home, but I really needed to know what happened, so I finished the book just before we landed for a layover in New York City. (We did get some cards in while en route to Detroit, though, don’t worry 😉 )
While the book had grown on me, I found it ended quite abruptly and that while conflicts did get resolved (and that’s all I’ll say, don’t worry ~ no spoilers), it’s my opinion that they were resolved very quickly. I could have been OK with one more chapter to spread some of the ending details out.
All said, I recommend the book if you’re a fan of young adult historical romance fiction. If that’s not your thing, this book probably won’t be either. What it taught me is that sometimes, even a pretty good book can’t fix your overall need to not pick books from that genre, but I suppose that’s good for me to know, as well 🙂
If you’re in your teens or early 20s, I recommend you give this book a read! Or if you’re not in that age group and you just like young adult fiction, I suggest you check it out. Like I said, overall, a pretty good book. I was glad I read it!
I received a copy of this book to review for free through Graf-Martin Communication’s Nuts About Books program.