Review: Dauntless & Chivalrous (Valiant Hearts #1 & 2) by Dina L. Sleiman

October 28, 2015 Christian, Dina L. Sleiman, historical, romance, YA 4

dauntlessThough 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?

my thoughtsI really enjoyed this story about Lady Merry and her band of “outlaws”. Their touching camaraderie and obvious closeness as a group shone as qualities to be envied in this day and age where we have 1000 “friends” but few we truly know. Timothy’s dilemmas of loyalty added an extra element of emotional tension to the ever-present suspense, and while I normally detest love triangles (they make my heart twist!) I can live with the one that Sleiman includes in Dauntless. I think mainly because it just made sense … and I really wasn’t sure which way it was going to go.  And I can’t talk about this book without at least mentioning precious Wren. Wren’s pure adorableness and her sunshine men brought welcome moments of levity and grace when everything else was edge-of-your-seat intense.

Bottom Line: Dauntless’ kick-butt Robin-Hood-esque heroine, Lady Merry, will appeal to both young adult and older readers.  I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I sadly haven’t been a “young adult” in quite some time.  Dina Sleiman has done a marvelous job of creating an endearing band of outlaws and a pure-hearted scribe as well as painting a vivid picture of the history and mood of the time period.

(I won this book in a giveaway with no expectation of a review; nevertheless the opinions stated above are completely honest and my own.)purple4

chivalrousStrong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers. However, that is not an option for her, not even in the Arthurian-inspired Eden where she dwells. Her parents view her only as a marriage pawn, and her domineering father is determined to see her wed to a brutish man who will break her spirit.


When handsome, good-hearted Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, Gwendolyn spies in him the sort of fellow she could imagine marrying. Yet fate seems determined to keep them apart. Tournaments, intrigue, and battles–along with twists and turns aplenty–await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.

my thoughtsAs much as I enjoyed Dauntless, I think I enjoyed Chivalrous even more! I was already invested in Allen and his story – and that certainly helped – but Gwen completely captured my heart all on her own.  She is such a wonderful and poignant dichotomy. Despite her tough exterior, she has an incredibly soft heart and longs for the same things that every girl does – whether she admits to it or not.

The achingly bittersweet dilemma in which she and Allen find themselves – forced to choose between each other and the good of the dukedom they both love – makes for some great emotional intensity.  Shades of Guinevere and Lancelot, in many scenes… but, you know, without the immorality.  As with Dauntless, I wasn’t entirely sure how this would play out. It didn’t seem that there were any options that wouldn’t produce dire consequences for someone, and I had no idea how Sleiman was going to “fix it” for the happily-ever-after I require 😉

While the action isn’t quite as non-stop, edge-of-your-seat intense as it is in Dauntless, it’s certainly in no way absent or lacking.  And the romantical side of things gets more page-time too… which we all know makes me a happy reader 🙂  The dukedom in Chivalrous may indeed be patterned after Arthur’s Camelot, but Dina Sleiman has also masterfully brought the spirit of the legendary kingdom to life.  Jousting tournaments, courtly romance, treason, sword battles, and a villainous pair of siblings who call to mind Mordred and Morgana… and of course, chivalry 🙂

The message in Chivalrous won my allegiance – how God views women & their role in marriage.  I so appreciated the author’s take on this hot-button topic, one that is vitally important for young women to fully grasp.  He never wants a woman to be battered or abused but rather to be cherished and respected.  She need never be ashamed of who He has created her to be, either!

Bottom Line:  If you love the legend of King Arthur, then you most definitely need to read Chivalrous! Also ideal for young adult readers, the book provides the perfect role model for girls in feisty, fierce and loyal Gwen.  Packed with courtly values, heart-stopping action, and breath-stealing romance, Chivalrous is a great bet for adults too. (A rather heart-breaking subplot sets the stage for the third book in the Valiant Hearts series – Courageous – due out in 2016, and I can’t wait to see where Sleiman takes one particular character’s story.)  While you don’t have to be a fan of The Hunger Games (I’m not) to enjoy this series, Katniss and Lady Merry and Gwen would, I’m certain, be great friends.

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

purple4dina sleimanAbout the Author:

 Dina Sleiman writes stories of passion and grace. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. Dina also serves as an acquisitions and content editor for WhiteFire Publishing. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/ or check out her latest series at http://valiantheartsseries.blogspot.com/p/series.html.

Carrie

4 Responses to “Review: Dauntless & Chivalrous (Valiant Hearts #1 & 2) by Dina L. Sleiman”

  1. Amy @ Pages of Starlight

    I’ve looked at these books several times, but never felt fully convinced about them. Well, I think you’ve just convinced me – especially on your review of Chivalrous, but I won’t start in the middle of the story and I do like the Robin Hood tale too (even if not as much as the story of Camelot). Adding to my TBR list!

    • Carrie

      you CAN read Chivalrous as a stand-alone but you will appreciate Allen more if you read Dauntless first! 🙂

  2. Kav

    I’ve read Dauntless and loved it so I’m super excited to get reading Chivalrous. It’s on order. So glad you liked it — and I’m all about King Arthur legends. Woohooo.