Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

rites of passage

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. (Goodreads)

This isn’t normally the sort of book that I would pick up based purely on the cover. I think, if I saw it kicking around on Goodreads or in a book shop, without having read the review I read about it first, it wouldn’t be the sort of book I would go for. However, I did add this book to my TBR (despite the cover) because of the review that I read – and thank god that I did! I absolutely loved every second of this book.

I don’t think that the cover or the premises of this book actually do the book justice at all. It almost makes it sound like a love story with a weird military twist on the side. It is not like that… at all. If anything, this book is more about the military training and what Sam has to go through as a woman – a McKenna woman – with a side of love to go. It wasn’t even that wishy washy kind of love that has you rolling your eyes at the cliche of it – it had my heart going and everything.

Sam takes strong female characters to new heights! She’s a sassy, takes no nonsense kinda girl who would carry on through the pain just to spite the people who are telling her that she can’t do it like the men do it. I think that is what I love about her the most. No matter what was thrown at her, no matter what the Corporals put her through and what was said to her, she never gave up – she never gave up for both herself and her pride but also for the people around her and the women who are to come after her in the DMA.

I also liked Drill Sergeant Stamm. He was kind, funny and the sort of person who earns your respect rather than just expecting to have it because of his rank. He also never believed that Sam couldn’t do something that the men were doing and he supported her throughout the year in the DMA. He is also good-looking and is making an appearance on my fictional boyfriend list.

There were obviously characters that everyone loves to hate which just made this story what it is. Corporals Matthews and Julius, Cadet Evers and the members of the Pandora Society in general completed the story. I was worried that it wasn’t going to resemble that of what a typical military setting would be – however, the way in which these characters were all written helped to enhance the setting of the story as a whole. I just feel that not enough was done to Matthews and Julius at the end of the story – it is a good premise for a sequel.

There was one part to that ending that I absolutely hated though! I thought it was so unfair and I literally felt my heart break just a little bit. This book needs a sequel really really badly – however, I don’t think that we are going to get one.

I loved this book and would recommend it to pretty much anyone and everyone. I almost feel like my review hasn’t done the book justice. I gave this book 5/5 stars.

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