'Defy' a captivating debut and solid start to new book series

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Sara B. Larson's debut novel, "Defy," comes out Jan. 7.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "Defy" by Sara B. Larson is a beautiful and surprising tale of a heroine named Alexa Hollen. Alexa's parents are killed by a sorcerer when she's young, so to protect her from the king's horrible breeding house, her twin brother cuts off her hair and she poses as a boy.Alex, as she's now known, and her twin brother fight on the king's army in the prince's guard. She's incredibly skilled in sword fighting, but even she can't stop what's coming. Alex's kingdom and their rival kingdom have a lot bigger differences than people think.When Alex, the mysterious prince Damian and fellow guard Rylan are kidnapped, Alex realizes she isn't the only one with secrets. While being held captive, Alex also comes to see that she is being sought after by both Prince Damian and Rylan. Rylan has always been there for her, but Damian is mysterious and gorgeous. Personally, I prefer Damian because he cares for her greatly and would be willing to make any sacrifice for her. Rylan is more of a strong and steady friend type.
While a love triangle always keeps a girl's attention, guys would like this story, too. There's a lot of action, and the characters have a lot of relatable and likeable characteristics.The story may have magic and sword fighting, but the book itself is beautifully written and has a believable underlying foundation. The most believable part is that Alex finds herself confused as she begins to have the emotions of a teenage girl; even though she may be dressed as a boy, she is a growing young woman finding out who she truly is.By the end of the novel, she has accepted that she is a becoming a woman but that she will always be a fighter. She continues her work for the guard but takes back her name, Alexa.The entire story kept me interested, and I was on the edge of my seat at some parts. My favorite part, though, is a rather intimate moment between Alex and Damian -- which I won't say anything more about so as not to spoil it!The ending is rather unsatisfying as it ends in a cliffhanger, but the novel will not stand alone. Good news for me and any other person who reads "Defy" is that there will be two sequels. I completely recommend this book to anyone looking for some good adventure and a little romance.
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