*I read this in May 2017 and reviewed it then. I read this as an ARC. As always, this is my honest opinion.
If this book were two seperate books, it’d be a lot easier to review. As is, my feelings are mixed. There were some parts that I really loved and others that weren’t so great.
An obstinate girl who will not be married.
A soldier desperate to prove himself.
A kingdom on the brink of war.
With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.
As the girls’ military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.
This book is sort of a retelling of Mulan. I say sort of because it’s only evident for the first 50 pages are so, and then it takes a life of it’s own. It starts off pretty strong. It’s interesting, and even though Sage is kind of over the top and not generally great, you enjoy it. It continues at a nice pace with intrigue and suspicions and that thought in the back of your mind that maybe this isn’t really what you think…
…and then the plot twist happens.
And then the book becomes slow and just meh. It’s odd. When I updated my goodreads status, I mentioned how I wish it had stayed with the same storyline for longer. It was interesting. Between Sage, Ash, Quinn, and Darnessa there was a lot of misdirection and intrigue that Beaty handled really well. If it had kept on going, I’d given this book 5 stars, as it is, it’s 3.5 for me.
There are another plot twists, one of which I knew was going to be there from the getgo, and even then, it was confusing to keep track of. It’s so hard to describe why this book didn’t work for me, other than unmet potential (I smell a blog post on this soon).
At the beginning of the book, we are rapidly introduced to Quinn’s men and they all have some import, but we’re introduced so quickly that it was hard to keep track of all of them.
This book is frustrating on so many levels. Retellings are my favorite, and even though this is loosely based on Mulan (and I didn’t know this until I started reading), it doesn’t have the charm of retelling. It starts off strong, but then meanders it’s way to the end. There were a lot of political things in it, that I glossed over. The villain has perspective chapters that I skimmed over because overall, they didn’t do much for the story. 3rd person alternating perspectives is tricky at best, but Beaty pulled it off well enough.
Overall, I just wish this book had kept the charm at the beginning and drove it home instead of the ground.