Book Review: Chivalry is for more than just male knights, this strong heroine has it in spades!

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Chivalrous

 Valiant Hearts Book Two

by Sleiman, Dina L

Teen/YA, Romance

Author Dina L. Sleiman adds another installment to her Valiant Hearts series with another strong heroine perfect for women of all ages to admire. Gwendolyn Barnes at sixteen years old has managed to escape entering an arranged marriage such as her contemporary nobles are forced into for power and alliance gains. However, that is soon to change when her tyrannical father returns from one of his extended forays.

Since he’s been gone Gwen battle-trains as a knight like her older brothers, learning sword play, jousting, archery etc.; however, reality comes quick when her father claims he is staying home for good.  Gwen will have to hide her true self to behave like a proper lady of her status.

Gwen doesn’t want to be married for she fears to end up like her mother and sister-in-law, suppressed beneath their husbands’ will.  Her father believes women should be subservient to men and that their true purpose is to bear children, tend the home and be decorations on the men’s arms. Through lessons of the bible, he has demanded his household live under those conditions when he is home. When he is gone, he doesn’t bother to know or ask what Gwendolyn is doing. He assumes it is to his orders.

Allen of Ellsworth enters the story as he leaves the village of Lindy. He leaves behind Lord Linden, Merry Ellison, and Timothy Grey of book one, Dauntless of the Valiant Hearts series to enter a jousting tournament in Edendale in North Britannia.

Gwen’s father wants to take her to the same tournament in Edendale to find her a groom.

As a last hurrah before she is doomed to marriage she arranges to have one day of rebellion before she is imprisoned into an unwanted marriage. It is during this rebellious act that she meets Sir Allen, a newly knighted hero that just might change her mind about marriage.

However the duty of knighthood and the code of chivalry put a damper on their burgeoning romance, not to mention her father’s will that she marry into higher status.

As most teenage girls go through an identity crisis, or into a period of identity exploration, so does Gwen. She has to blend both her “lady” side with her “knight” side as the adventure unravels. Just when she softens to the idea of love, it is ripped from her grasp. Adventures prevail and the reader is left to wonder who will truly save the day.

This novel has so many threads that make it a rich tapestry befitting the walls of a castle throne room. The exploration of identity can effect both teens and adults alike as people are ever changing. It showcases how brutal life could be during that time period for women, not to mention the class structure under the feudal system. Add in relationship dynamics and a graphic picture is painted in how some military nobility fathers dealt with their daughters and wives.  The story mentions the corruption in the church relating to keeping the masses in line and in sync with the ruling class. It also highlights how interpretations of the Holy Bible can differ and can be used to the advantage of oppressors to mold the actions of the masses. Many of the morals/ethics of the code of chivalry are presented and affect the characters in the book.

In today’s technological age, this code and versions of it would be a great reminder to all of society that we still need these guidelines in dealing with each other; If only…

To see other works by Dina L. Sleiman follow her on her facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/authordinasleiman

You can also find out when her next book in the series is released from her author page at Baker Publishing Group at: http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/authors/dina-l-sleiman/2002

FTC Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this title by Net Galley and Baker Publishing Group for review purposes only, no other compensation was awarded.

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