Courageous || Review

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Inspired by the vision of the Young Lady Sapphira, Rosalind of Ipsworth joins a group of men, women, and children as a defender of the cross, seeking to free captives from prisons near Tripoli. She gladly gives herself to the cause, as she's haunted by a tragic mistake and no longer deserves such joys as marriage and family might bring. 

Sir Randel Penigree was reared to serve in the church, but dreams of protecting the innocent as a knight. Joining a crusade to escape humiliation at home, he finds himself drawn to Rosalind as they partner to train and protect a group of young adolescents. When they face political machinations, danger, and an unknown enemy bent on their destruction, they are forced to reconsider their priorities and the very nature of the God they serve.

– Goodreads || Add it on Goodreads


First, thanks to Bethany House, for the free copy in exchange for an honest review! Also, this review has a lot of spoilers!

Dina Sleiman’s book Courageous, book three in the Valiant Hearts series, sets a story of second chances, love and adventure against the colorful backdrop of the crusades in the 1200’s.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book. I did not realize it was a book three, and I had not read books one and two. However, since each book has a different main character and setting, it is easy to dive right into the third book without missing important parts of the story.The book is not based on a real crusade, but the Rosalind and Randel’s mission is inspired by the Children’s Crusade. The group in this fictional crusade is inspired by the vision of a young teen-aged girl. They believe it is their mission to free Christian prisoners in the Holy Land.

Of course, things don’t go quite as planned. Rosalind and Randel must keep an unruly bunch of children safe and cared for the duration of an at least eighteen month journey, multiple battles and various other threats. Rosalind must deal with her guilt of conceiving a child out of wedlock and her later abortion of that child. She believes she no longer deserves to marry and have a family. She seeks to redeem herself by going on a crusade, and secure her forgiveness.

Randel has been pressed to join the church and spend the rest of his life as monk. He has always dreamed of being a warrior and a knight. After a battle in which he was the commanding officer, goes horribly wrong, and he accidentally kills one of his one men, Randel seeks to redeem himself, and prove himself worthy of being a warrior again, and join the Templar Knights.

During their journey, Rosalind and Randel grow to care about each other and begin to question their chosen paths. Although they want a future together, they are held back by guilt and obligations. Of course, everything does turn out well, and they do end up together.

It was nice to see these characters set on a path of redemption and hope. However, I felt some of the conflict was a little too easily resolved. When Rosalind and Randel’s mistakes and bad choices are made known, everything turns out fine. I find this particularly unlikely in Randel’s case, I mean, he killed a man, even though it was an honest mistake. A few people might have a problem with that. The only person who does is the dead man’s sister, Jocelyn.

Jocelyn is obsessed with getting her revenge. She does everything she can bring Randel down. Jocelyn is portrayed as a thoroughly disgusting girl, who constantly flirts with men, and has no qualms about betraying her friends or casually murdering people. In fact, there is little more to this character than lust and hate.

I felt like this was lazy character development. Jocelyn apparently misses her brother, and it is mentioned she was raised by a “brutish father.” It seems this character grew up in a dysfunctional home and cares deeply about her brother – why don’t we hear more about those parts of her life? That’s some potential that is never realized. It is normal for Jocelyn to want some sort of explanation or reckoning for the death of her brother. However, to make this character consumed with the desire for revenge and murder seems a little too contrived and one dimensional. There is more to a villain than one or two vices.

Another thing that bothered me, was that after Jocelyn was captured by a sheik and forced to marry him, that was somewhat glossed over. I have mixed feelings about how the other characters reacted to Jocelyn's situation. They suspect that she had been been selling information to the Muslim forces, which she had. However, Rosalind and Randel have no proof for this suspicion, and Rosalind even goes so far as to say that Jocelyn is more "mean spirited" since she escaped her kidnappers. I think that was uncalled for. This is no way to treat a victim, even if you don't like her. I understand that Rosalind and Randel are in a stressful situation and do not know who they can trust, but their reactions made me a bit uncomfortable. I didn’t think the issues of abduction and sexual assault were addressed in a very sensitive way.

To be fair, this is not a huge part of the book; it's just something that stood out to me. Altogether, Courageous had the potential to be a sweet love story, and for the most part it was. However, a few things just really bothered me. I didn't connect with the main characters, and I didn't like the way the book addressed Jocelyn and her abduction.

I didn’t like the way the way the character Jocelyn was written, but there are things I do like about this book!

The setting was interesting, and the way the author portrayed the Crusades seemed balanced.While the story builds slowly, there is plenty of time for the plot to unfold, it didn't feel rushed or choppy. I enjoyed the historical setting. I haven’t read much fiction about the crusades, so it was super interesting to finally read a book about them!

Have you read Courageous? What did you think of it?

Comments

  1. This one sounds interesting, but the things you pointed out would probably really bother me. I enjoy a sweet love story, though, and I've considering reading the first book in the series, Dauntless. Great review!

    Ally @ The Scribbling Sprite

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I thought that Dauntless sounded like good story, too!

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