Series: Valiant Hearts #1
Publisher: Bethany House (2015)
eARC (368 pages)
Reading Challenges: 2015 Alphabet Soup, Read 2015
Though 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?
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This was an engrossing story. I had a hard time putting it down, particularly after I crossed the halfway mark. The story follows Lady Merry Ellison and her band of survivors.
Merry is the leader and basically mother figure to the only survivors of her village which was attacked by King John because of her father’s involvement in a failed assassination attempt. They need to stay hidden and anonymous among the forest as the king would order their deaths if he knew they survived.
This is all well and good until Merry accidentally steals the tax money being sent to the king. Now the group has taken something more substantial than clothes, food and herbs.
Timothy Grey is in service to the Earl of Wyndeshire and tasked with bringing “the ghosts” to justice. He is determined to accomplish this feat and make his way in the world. However, there is a small complication. Timothy spots Merry, his one-time betrothed whom he thought dead, among the band of thieves.
The survivors from Ellsworth, Merry’s village, are all young. The oldest is seventeen, the youngest two. They have been living the woods for two years since King John killed Merry’s family and burned Ellsworth to the ground.
This group is great. They are
like a family to each other. There is Merry, the mother figure. There are the older boys who are the “warriors” and the older girls who take care of the younger children. Then there are the young ones.
I love Wren so much. She is the baby of the group at two years old. She was just an infant when the children escaped from Ellsworth. She is so sweet and has her great friend the “sunshine man.”
Sadie is also a great character. She is in about the middle of the group age-wise. She is athletic and wants to learn to fight as Merry does. She is a very talented gymnast as are most of the group since they practice “agility” a lot. She also has a lot of spunk and I like that in her.
Merry is a strong young woman. She has survived so much and she feels responsible for all of the other survivors of Ellsworth. There is a love triangle between Mary, Timothy (once he knows she’s alive) and Allen. Until almost the very end I could see it going either way. I think it was very well written.
I really enjoyed this book. Thanks so much, Bethany House!
- You Read How Many Books? Reading Challenge
- Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge (D)
I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.