Author: Sally Slater
Series: Paladin #1
Publisher: Perfect Analogy Publishing
Publication Date: May 14th, 2015
Purchase: Amazon US | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBooks
My Rating: 3ish stars of 5
"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?"
While much of this book does use common tropes in this kind of YA fantasy, I still really enjoyed it, pay no mind to the cartoony cover. Sam, while a fairly cliche character, had better reasons for why she ran off to join the Paladins than "I don't want to follow the standard rules of high society." After a tragedy and her father becomes a recluse, Sam decides she wants to take matters into her own hands and seeks training. She is still pretty annoying sometimes with her bravado of "I'm so tough I can beat all you men." attitude, she walks the line between cocky and confident.
I liked Tristan. He wasn't really a cliche of a character, but at the same time, he wasn't exactly original either. He's noble, and not the cliche "bad boy" or "boy-next-door" he's mostly just a guy that is really good at being a warrior. His age was never really clear until closer to the end of the book, and it was only mentioned in years of how long he was in certain places but doing the math, he's 25. A bit old for a character in a young adult book, not really a problem except he acts like he's the same age as Samantha, which is maybe 18 by the time the story really picks up.
Braden, he was kind of interesting, but there was little that was actually all that special about him. his place in the story is what made some of the things I've seen before in the genre seem like something new, and his presence seemed to be the driving point for most of the plot, not Sam
There is a little hint of a romance in this book, and while I don't know if it was actually needed, the way it turned out wasn't how I predicted; but I don't know if that's a good thing or not. The person she ends up with she didn't really share any chemistry with, but I don't mind that it went the way it did. I don't know if this is a stand-alone or not, but it had a little bit of an open ending, so I assume that there will be more.