Virginia Gem: Dauntless by Dina Sleiman (Valiant Hearts Book 1)

Dauntless by Dina L. SleimanSteeped in the adventures of Robin Hood, but with more heart, Dauntless tells the story Lady Merry Ellison, a young woman whose family was killed for standing against the unjust King John.  Merry and a small group of infants, children, and adolescents, survive King John’s brutal attack and escape into the deep forests of Farthingale.  Merry teaches her band of “ghosts” to read, hunt, fight, and even steal to survive; but she also tries to teach them to respect life, even as she struggles with what happened with her own family.  After two years of tough survival, Merry’s young band of outlaws are a close knit family who respect and help one another.   To prevent capture they are forced to keep moving to different forested areas.  One move brings them to Wyndeshire, and into the path of Timothy Grey, a young man trying to prove himself as the youngest of his siblings. He is determined to gain fame, fortune, and respect by capturing The “Ghosts of Farthingale Forest.”   However, when Timothy crosses paths with Merry, the past comes back to haunt both of them and sets off a series of events that lead to danger and possibly death for them and the children!  Yes, this is young adult, but I loved the characters and how they grew and matured and endured through their trials.  I loved the capable Merry, her ability to lead, and her desire to protect those entrusted into her care.  Handsome Timothy proved to have integrity worthy of a nobleman. But my favorite character was Allen of Ellsworth.  Though of low birth, he had the heart of a true knight and was a man after God’s own heart.  I can’t wait to read his Chivalrous by Dina L. Sleimanstory in Chivalrous, (Valiant Hearts book 2).  Final thoughts:  Beautiful Cover.  This book would make a wonderful adventure movie for the entire family!