Reviewed by Mandi
This story was originally posted on WattPad.
Brash, cocky, and unbeatable with a sword (well, almost), Sam of Haywood is the most promising Paladin trainee in the kingdom of Thule… and knows it. The only problem is that Sam is really Lady Samantha, daughter of the seventeenth Duke of Haywood, and if her father has his way, she’ll be marrying a Paladin, not becoming one.
But Sam has never held much interest in playing damsel-in-distress, and so she rescues herself from a lifetime of boredom and matrimonial drudgery. Disguised as a boy, Sam leaves home behind to fight demons-—the most dangerous monsters in Thule—-alongside the kingdom’s elite warriors. Pity that Tristan Lyons, the Paladin assigned to train her, is none other than the hero of her childhood. He hasn’t recognized her–yet–but if he does, he’ll take away her sword and send her packing.
Sam is not the only trainee hiding secrets: Braeden is a half-demon with a dark past that might be unforgivable. Whether he can be trusted is anyone’s guess, including his.
As demons wreak havoc across the land, rebellion stirs in the West, led by a rival faction of warriors.
A war between men is coming, and Sam must pick a side. Will saving the kingdom cost her life–or just her heart?
The first 40% of this book completely engaged me, as a strong fantasy story emerges with a kick ass heroine who just wants to be one of the guys.
We have three main players in this story. First our heroine, Sam. After a demon kills her mother and her father wants nothing to do with her, all Sam dreams of is to leave home and join the paladins, a very skilled set of men who fight demons and keep the innocent safe. But Sam is a girl, which means she is supposed to get married and not fight. But screw that! Sam decides to cut her hair, band her breasts and pose as a man. She makes the journey to join the trainee ranks of the paladins along with many other men. The paladin she is assigned to for training is named Tristan.
Tristan is the most powerful and skilled Paladin, so when he sees scrawny Sam as his appointed trainee, he isn’t too happy. But he does his duty and tries to make the best out of it. He also gets another trainee – a young man named Braeden. Braeden is very unique – he is half human, half demon. This immediately makes him an outcast, as the goal of paladins is to kill demons. Braeden’s mother died giving birth to him, and growing up he had to learn to keep his demon urges under control. Now all he wants to do is kill demons too, but he has to convince others of this. Sam takes a liking to him quickly, and together these three are tasked with heading west, to search out a new demon threat and a possible coup by a new group of demon hunters.
The first half of this book is so cute. I’d call this more of a YA fantasy. Sam is such a fun heroine. All she wants to do is play with the boys and when she finally realizes she can pass as one, she has so much fun. A talented sword fighter, although she is small, she fits in pretty well. This story has great action – I could see a movie playing out in my head as these three fight demons along the way. I also loved the dynamics of their relationship. Tristan is frustrated for having scrawny, smart-mouth Sam and Braeden who is part demon who he isn’t sure he can totally trust. Braeden just wants to live a normal life, and not be ridiculed everywhere he goes.
A very light romance develops between Braeden and Sam, obviously once Braeden learns Sam is a girl. I wish the romance had been more prominent because I loved Sam and Braeden together. I really wanted to see their romantic relationship unfold more. It happens more in the background.
The second half of the book lagged for me. I felt like this book was too long. The very end was good, it was just 50%-85% that really slowed down for me.
I like this author’s voice though. She created a fun world with cool characters. But the story needed to be tighter and with my love of romance, I wish that had been more of the focus.