A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance. Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory. The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect? (From Amazon.com)

Bubby: In my dreams sometimes I pretend that I am a beautiful woman disguised as an elite warrior. My fighting skills are legendary and the few men who know my secret are captivated by my exotic beauty and keen intelligence. And then I wake up and realize that I am dreaming about this book I just read: Defy by Sara B. Larson. There are many many writers out there, and multitudes of books to read and many of these are debut novels. However, not many of them (whether they be debut books or book #42) are as captivating and intense and just dang GOOD as this one. At its core, it is a story we’ve heard before – a girl dresses up like a boy to escape a “fate worse than death”, in this case, the breeding houses set up by the evil king to provide a never-ending source of warriors. But the plotline explodes from there. Secrets, rebellions, love triangles, handsome princes…I could go on and on.  But when I go on and on Sissy yells at me so over to her.

Sissy: Well, Bubby, that was a literary lake of lusciousness, although I remember your dreams differently. You must have been dreaming the warrior fighting bits when your heel was shoved into my ribcage (Bubby and I had to share a bed in our youth, when we were sharecroppers in Alabama). Did your princess self like to wrestle, too? Cause I remember being caught up in your claustrophobic clutches many a time, causing me to dream about being strangled by dwarves.

Bubby: Seriously? Are you EVER going to get over this? So I was a bit of a restless sleeper. And I wouldn’t go to sleep unless you sang to me. Repeatedly. But is that so bad? And really, it was only for five years or so and then you abandoned me! It’s time to move on. You’ve been sleeping without me for decades now. Talk about the story!

Sissy: So our heroine Alex(a) never has to sleep with her sister –

Bubby: Because she doesn’t have one. Otherwise I bet she’d have loved to share a bed with a beloved sister…

Sissy: Anyway, she is the very definition of a kickbutt girl. I had an inner conversation at one point when I was reading of her great feats of strength and endurance and bravery and I said to myself, “Self, you are overly fond of this chick and her exploits. But you are nothing like her! You don’t like to sleep on the floor and fight with men hand-to-hand and be smelly and have scary adventures and save the world. You must be schizophrenic!” And I answered myself, “You could possibly be right.”

Bubby: Umm. Well, let’s not rule out schizophrenia just yet, but I think we all do this with characters we love. I love the Lord of the Rings books and movies but there is no way on earth (or Middle Earth for that matter) that I would have volunteered to go on any kind of world saving mission. I would have just hung out with the elves and learned cool hair braiding techniques. That’s what good books are for – to escape our own existence and live vicariously through someone else. And if they happen to be beautiful and exciting and ever-so-deadly, then hooray!

Sissy: Bubby the philosopher has answered the esoteric question of the hour. Notwithstanding my weenie arms, I identified with Alexa and thoroughly ate up Defy. I give it 4 bubbles, not to be popped by hidden boot daggers, which I will probably start wearing any day now.

Bubby: I still think you might be schizo, Sissy, but I will agree with you that Defy is an outstanding debut. I loved it. 4 bubbles from me.

Click HERE to buy Defy by Sara B. Larson at Amazon.com

We were given a copy of Defy by the publishers in return for a fair and honest review.

© Bubble Bath Books 2013