Defiance by C.J. Redwine
Summary: When Rachel’s father is pronounced dead after failing to return home after a courier mission, Rachel’s guardianship is transferred over to his apprentice, Logan. Rachel isn’t too happy about this, especially since Logan was her first crush (and first rejection). But the two seem to be more alike than they thought, and they set out to discover what really happened to Rachel’s father. Unfortunately, the leader of their village doesn’t like people leaving—and he wants to use Rachel to get something that he needs to maintain his power.
My thoughts: What makes Defiance stand out from the crowd is its utterly brilliant romance. The romance is based on mutual affection and respect: both parties are on equal ground. The guy isn’t focused on protecting, and the girl isn’t focused on being doe-eyed around the guy. These are two people who admire each other, respect each other’s abilities, and also happen to be in love. It seems so simple, but it’s difficult to find a romance of this feminist caliber. Hats off to C.J. Redwine for this one.
Aside from the stellar romance, there’s the story. C.J. Redwine is an unpredictable writer—as soon as you think a plan is going to pan out, she completely turns the situation around. My mouth was left hanging open multiple times because of sharp plot twists. The twists don’t do anything to hinder the pacing of the story, though the reader might have to pause to regain his or her composure.
Most of the twists in Defiance have to do with the Commander, a villain expertly engineered by the author to ooze yuckiness. Trust me—this is a dude you’re going to hate. But that’s part of what makes him so good: he works as a plot device, but he’s also a developed character who is just plain bad to the bone.
Fantasy fans, Defiance will be right up your alley. The characters might not have weird, unpronounceable names, but the high fantasy element is still there—and boy, is the world C.J. Redwine created neat. Defiance is a rush of many things that things I like in a novel: a fiery protagonist, a unique world, and a story that sets the heart racing.