Formulaic but fun for genre fans wanting a quick read.

A DARING SACRIFICE

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)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-74937-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zondervan

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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A successful romantic enterprise.

THE UPSIDE OF FALLING

High school seniors do the fake dating thing.

Brett Wells has always been focused on football. Brainy Becca Hart’s faith in love was destroyed by her parents’ divorce. The two have little in common other than being pestered by their friends and families about the lack of a special someone in their lives. They embark upon a “fake relationship,” but, predictably, it gives way to a real one. Debut author Light sprinkles in just enough charm and good-natured romance as the narrative bounces between Brett’s and Becca’s perspectives to keep readers engaged but not overwhelmed by twee sentiment. Becca is a much better developed character than Brett (handsome yet doofy, he has the complexity of a golden retriever), and her chapters are the novel’s highlights. Brett’s whole deal is a bigger pill to swallow, but readers who go with it will find a pleasant story. The novel is a syrupy ode to what it feels like to slowly fall for someone for the first time, and that mood is captured effectively. Becca and Brett have chemistry that feels completely natural, but sadly there are some late-in-the-game plot mechanics that feel forced. Fortunately, the author seems as uninterested in these disruptions as readers will be: Things are resolved quickly, and the novel ends on a high note. Whiteness is situated as the norm; main characters are white.

A successful romantic enterprise. (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-291805-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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May well beguile readers with its mix of magic and political intrigue.

SHIELDED

From the Shielded series , Vol. 1

A princess fights to save her kingdom while trying to conceal her magic.

On the eve of her 17th birthday, Princess Jennesara learns of her betrothal to the prince of Turia, an alliance made by her father to secure the neighboring kingdom’s military support in quelling the fighting at his borders. Before she is sent away to safety in Turia, she learns of other worrying developments brewing at home: A burned letter references a search for the mages’ library, illicit magic is being used in skirmishes at the borders, and there is a potential betrayal within her father’s circle of trust. She frets, too, about her own secret magic being discovered, for only her older brother, Ren, is supposed to possess magic. On their way to Turia, Jenna’s party is ambushed and she narrowly escapes. She is forced to fend for herself and find her own way to Turia to discover who betrayed her family and what secrets lie in the rumored mages’ library. Jenna conceals her identity and ingratiates herself with her betrothed’s family as she eludes the threat of a shadowy, sinister foe. Though overflowing with common fantasy tropes and featuring lengthy expository passages, this series opener nevertheless features affable characters and moves at a solid clip that will keep readers entertained. Jenna’s people are fair-haired while Turians are olive-skinned with dark hair.

May well beguile readers with its mix of magic and political intrigue. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11853-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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