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A Daring Sacrifice Paperback – March 1, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-The Cloaked Bandit has been robbing the noble families of Wessex for years and has yet to be caught. Skilled at hiding in the forests, this bandit is able to conceal the fact that she is a girl, Juliana Wessex, and a member of the ruling family, who everyone believes is dead. Her talents allow her to feed and shelter the peasants of the land. While playing this Robin Hood-like role, she encounters Collin Goodrich, who recognizes her from years past. He encourages her to stay on his estate after she is injured, and teens will want to read on to find out if Collin is able to win her heart and if he will sacrifice everything for her. While Juliana and Collin are interesting characters and the action is easy to follow, the story is idealistic as opposed to realistic. While Juliana is 17, she doesn't sound authentically teen, though falling in love and resisting temptation will be themes that will resonate with some young adults. The book includes discussion questions in the back matter relating to its Christian motifs. VERDICT A great selection for collections looking for titles with strong Christian themes or for readers who enjoy fairy tales.-Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MIα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Prolific Hedlund is back with another tale of medieval romance, a sequel to An Uncertain Choice (2015). Lady Juliana of Wessex lives in the forest, disguised as a boy, stealing to provide for the remnants of her father's uprising against her vicious uncle. She doesn't want to steal but must even though she is the rightful heir to the rich Wessex lands. But she goes too far when she tries to steal from the lord of the neighboring Goodrich lands and is injured in the process. Collin Goodrich has seen through her disguise and takes her to his castle to protect her. Their friendship builds and warms into a budding romance…until Collin's sister invites the Wessex usurpers into the Goodrich home. Juliana's no longer safe---and now neither is Collin. Hedlund's light on historical detail and makes no apparent attempt to find a medieval voice to suit the 1390 English setting. Nevertheless, this narrative told from Juliana's and Collin's alternating points of view has engaging-enough characters and plenty of derring-do to entertain young romance enthusiasts. Formulaic but fun for genre fans wanting a quick read. (Historical romance. 12-16) (Kirkus)
The Cloaked Bandit has been robbing the noble families of Wessex for years and has yet to be caught. Skilled at hiding in the forests, this bandit is able to conceal the fact that she is a girl, Juliana Wessex, and a member of the ruling family, who everyone believes is dead. Her talents allow her to feed and shelter the peasants of the land. While playing this Robin Hood–like role, she encounters Collin Goodrich, who recognizes her from years past. He encourages her to stay on his estate after she is injured, and teens will want to read on to find out if Collin is able to win her heart and if he will sacrifice everything for her. While Juliana and Collin are interesting characters and the action is easy to follow, the story is idealistic as opposed to realistic. While Juliana is 17, she doesn’t sound authentically teen, though falling in love and resisting temptation will be themes that will resonate with some young adults. The book includes discussion questions in the back matter relating to its Christian motifs. VERDICT A great selection for collections looking for titles with strong Christian themes or for readers who enjoy fairy tales. (School Library Journal)
Historical fiction author Jody Hedlund writes her second young adult novel about a fourteenth-century young woman living an unconventional life. In A Daring Sacrifice, Juliana Wessex is the rightful ruler of Wessex. But the current Lord Wessex (her uncle) believes she died three years ago when her father lost his life. Juliana hides in the forest and steals to provide a livelihood for the peasants on her land, impoverished by her uncle’s harsh rule. It is a life filled with risks and danger, and she struggles with the justification of her actions. When she is forced to flee Wessex after escaping capture, Juliana makes the mistake of trying to rob Colin Goodrich, who recognizes Juliana by her red hair. Colin takes her to his castle after she is injured and introduces her as a distant cousin. But her uncle discovers her presence. To what lengths will her uncle go to keep Wessex for himself? Who makes the daring sacrifice? Different text fonts indicate Juliana’s and Colin’s points of view. The spiritual element is evident but not heavy-handed; Colin and Juliana ask for God’s leading and try to live godly lives, which is especially hard for Juliana since she steals from the nobility. Filled with descriptive narrative and endearing characters, A Daring Sacrifice is an entertaining read–except for the necessary violence in the fighting scenes. Its believable plot has enough twists in the last third of the book to keep the reader up late! Fans of Lisa Bergren’s River of Time series, Dina Sleiman’s Valiant Hearts series, and Melanie Dickerson’s medieval young adult books will also enjoy Hedlund’s medieval trilogy. Readers may want to read Hedlund’s An Uncertain Choice (reviewed in Christian Library Journal, Jan/Feb/Mar/Apr 2015). A third book is in the works. Recommended for teen collections in public libraries and school libraries. Carol R. Gehringer, worthy2read.wordpress.com (Christian Library Journal)
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While there are aspects to the story that mimic the Robin Hood tale, Hedlund makes it her own and does a wonderful job of winnowing out truths, as well as a delightful tale. This story engaged me early on but really wowed me in the last half of the story. The romance was sweet and clean, and without giving too much away, a wonderful example of true love. There are a few kisses but nothing inappropriate for the age level. And while young adults will enjoy this story, I believe adults will be equally swept up into the tale.
This novel can be read as a stand alone, however, it does have characters from Hedlund's previous novel, An Uncertain Choice. My recommendation would be to read them in order, but as I said you do not have too! For those of you who did read the previous novel, you will be delighted to know that the noble night in this story is Collin or Lord Goodrich! Yay! Not only that but it looks like there is in the works a 3rd novel for Sir Bennet!
To wrap it all up, this one is definitely worth the read! It left me with some good truths to chew on, a grin on my face and a smile in my heart!
(Though reviews are inherently subjective, I prefer to provide some organization to my opinions through the use of a personal rubric. The following notes may contain spoilers.)
Plot and Setting: 4.2 -- Plot is engaging, with both cliche/overly convenient elements and some more unique aspects. Has a few shaky bits and/or a slight lack of focus. Setting is clear and believable. Timeline may be a bit hard to follow. This book has echoes of a sort of gender-swapped Robin Hood, though it does take the story in interesting directions of its own, which I also liked. I did find some of the plot twists to be just on the too-convenient edge of things, plus it took a turn toward the overly corny/sappy romance near the end, and it was slightly challenging to track how much time was passing along the way. And, like book 1, it has a tacked-on bit of next-book drama at the very end, slightly marring an otherwise stand-alone story.
Characters: 4 -- Main characters are relatable, realistic, interesting, and dynamic. Some minor characters have depth, while others may be slightly stereotyped or simplified. Definite strong points in the relationships between characters. As with the previous book in the series, we mainly focus on our two main characters, and other characters are fairly simplified, with a few defining features and little to no growth. Collin and Juliana both have rather dramatic story arcs, though. Juliana shifts from her thieving ways and blanket hatred of all nobles into a more thoughtful, just leader who judges even nobles by their hearts, not their purses. Collin becomes aware of his spoiled, indulgent lifestyle, and is moved to compassionate generosity and truly self-sacrificial love.
Mechanics and Writing: 4.5 -- Few, if any, typos, punctuation issues, or word errors. (<4/100pgs) Generally solid use of POV, with a few errors or oddities. Skillful writing that adds to the story. Errors include: compound word confusion, mild punctuation or formatting issues. Really very few typos. POV is all first person, but alternates between Juliana and Collin. There are no labels or other indications of whose perspective it is at the start of each section; you just have to read and figure out from context who is narrating, which is frustrating.
Redeeming Value: 4.7 -- Well-developed, central, uplifting themes. Drugs, alcohol, violence, etc, are not glorified, though there is some shaky ground. No explicit sex scenes. Clear moral guidelines for behavior. Similar to book 1, there's palpable attraction, but chaperones and no more than kisses, and some cuddling, especially after they're married. Violence and torture, as well as robbery. Juliana and her friends are involved in the robbery and violence, though her conscience is nudging her away from that way of living. Torture is described in enough detail to be clearly horrible, but avoids getting too graphic. Lessons in judging people by their character, not their wealth, and also using what you've been blessed with to help others.
Personal Enjoyment: 4 -- I liked it a lot. Highly enjoyable and very entertaining, with perhaps an issue or two that tempered my pleasure. I’d enjoy reading it again.
The plot, too, was a bit formulaic and predictable. All in all, this story fell short to even be an okay read.