by Joy N. Hensley
Published by: HarperCollins
Genres: Realistic Fiction
Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died. So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty...no matter how much she wants him. As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out. At any cost. Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences
Rite of Passage by Joy N. Hensley was such a great read. It offered suspense, an active protagonist, danger and a side dish of forbidden romance all in a military academy setting. Hensley allowed me to slip in become fully engaged with the characters, action and suspense.
Sam McKenna is a military brat and the only sister in a family of boys. When her older brother dares her to be one of the first class of girls to attend Denmark Military Academy, and he commits suicide she accepts his challenge. Hensley creates tension from the onset, as Sam along with a small group of girls enters the academy. The boys do not want her there and to make matters worse a secret society is determined they fail no matter the costs. Unsure of friend or foe our tenacious protagonist refuses to back down.
The suspenseful aspects, allies, enemies, family interaction and secret societies were wonderfully done and are best left to be discovered by the reader. Rites of Passage offered fleshed out characters with unique voices and Hensley steered clear of cliques. Hensley had me unsure of some characters, loathing others and cheering for Sam and her unit. The writing was balanced, as the author gave us a real feel for academy life, the surroundings and at the same time developed the plot and characters. The forbidden romance that develops never took away from the main plot making it a sweet side dish and one I am desperate to see devolved.
What kept this from being five cups of coffee was the ending. While the main issues are mostly resolved, it was also open-ended. Rites of Passage needs to be a series. I need to go back to the Academy and see what develops from the remaining threats to the romance. We get hints about next year..but there is no information on a second book.
Rites of Passage was an intense, captivating tale with realistic characters and a well-developed storyline that kept this reader fully engaged.
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