With Damian newly crowned King of Antion, Alexa is under more pressure than ever before. She is one of King Damian’s most trusted guards and friend, and he would even like her to be more. Alexa can’t bear the thought of being queen, as she is still gossip fodder and scarred from her battle to save the kingdom. Even as she is hiding her feelings from Damian, her best friend Rylan is still pursuing her and trying to help matters. But they have no time for all of this, as King Damian has a tenuous hold on his downtrodden kingdom and beset on many sides by enemies. Though they have a fragile peace with Blevon, the neighboring country of Dansii is still an unknown as Damian’s cruel uncle is the king there. When a new envoy arrives from Dansii led by a beautiful noblewoman and a Blevonese assassination attempt is made on the king, it begins another tough fight for Damian and Alexa, especially when Alexa knows that everything isn’t as simple as it seems. Then Damian’s half-brother, Jax, is kidnapped and held for ransom–they must send Alexa as payment or the child dies. Vowing that she will return with Jax, she and Rylan trail the kidnappers leaving the new Dansiian noblewoman, Lady Vera, to occupy King Damian’s attentions. This selfless act just might be her undoing as the tables are turned and suddenly Alexa is hunted by the palace guards and stands to lose Damian, Jax, Rylan, and even her own life. . .
Despite being charmed by the first book, I just didn’t feel that this one lived up to the excitement of the first. Maybe it was just too middle-grade for me when I thought the first wasn’t in that vein…I’m not sure. I was thoroughly fed up with Rylan and the male ego though. Why do all of the men constantly want to take care of her?! Why is this so common in teen literature?! #daddy issues? I am just tired of guys constantly following her and asking if she’s okay. Should they consider her feelings? Should men take care of women? (Answer: Yes, and vice versa.) But none of this is the point. I think just maybe it would be more believable if they just clap her on the back and move on. That’s what a man would usually do, yes? Plus, it isn’t just Rylan and Damian that are guilty here. It’s many of the men, her fellow guardsmen, that are coming to terms with the reveal of her true identity. Alexa herself is still very uncomfortable about being outed as female and is adapting her relationships with the women she knows. Truly, it’s not her fault since she’s only known men that these are the ones that come to her rescue. However, she’s been thoroughly competent before, and just because she’s female doesn’t mean she isn’t now. I’ll stop ranting here. One last comment about the romance is that I wasn’t feeling all of the action between Alexa and Damian. It felt more flat and empty than the last novel. I really missed the settings and credibility of the characters in Ignite that I felt in Defy. Otherwise, it was an adventure, albeit a pretty predictable one, and I think its best YA readers will be middle grade teens or teens that aren’t looking too deeply at the fantasy. It maybe sounds like I’m being pretty harsh here. It’s not a bad book, and I’ll be reading the next one, but for a sequel, it just didn’t measure up to the magic of the first novel.