Rites of Passage
By: Joy N Hensley
Available Sept 2014
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.
This Blonde’s Review:
Sam is part of the first group of girls to ever be admitted to the Denmark Military Academy. She knows it won’t be easy, but her life hasn’t been great lately anyway. Her brother gave her a dare to attend the school and she doesn’t turn down dares. She’s always been eager to keep up with the boys rathe than playing dressup with her mother. And since this dare was the last one her brother gave her before he committed suicide she knows she’ll do whatever it takes to get through. Life hasn’t been great for her lately anyway. Her brother is gone. She doesn’t have a good relationship with her father, a high ranking military man who seems to put the his military career above his family and doesn’t want her to embarrass the family name. Her mother is barely speaking to her since she hates everything to do with the military and sees Sam attending this school as a betrayal. Her surviving brother barely wants to acknowledge her existence for daring to attend his school and acts as though she’s only doing it to take something from him. Sam’s year isn’t going to be easy.
There are supposed to be 5 girls in the first class, but one doesn’t show and the other girls who mostly make us wonder why they bothered to sign up. The relationships that Sam makes with these girls are tricky and not the kind of strong battle buddy relationships that I would have expected. I started this book thinking the girls would have to band together. It didn’t work out quite that way.
There is a group at DMA that will do whatever it takes to keep girls from being part of the academy. To their mind it isn’t pure if they allow anyone different to join, and females are definitely different. Sam has to deal with this from members of her chain of command. She has people above her attempting to make things difficult for all of the women, but especially so for Sam. Sam refuses to allow it to them to break her. She takes it and doesn’t complain. Her drill sergeant tells her to jump chain of command if needed, but Sam doesn’t do so. She takes it.
Sam’s strength and determination is something to be admired. She knew that asking for help would be seen as more weakness so she accepted way more than she should have. And she didn’t know who to trust. Especially when one of the people she thought was there for her stepped back and left her to figure it out on her own. Luckily she wasn’t entirely alone. Sam has someone who offers to help her with mysterious emails. She also has her advisor who finds her brother’s old combat buddy, who is local and offers her a safe haven. Surprisingly that Army buddy is related to someone Sam already knows, someone who can be a great resource for her and matter very much in her life.
It started to get really ugly for Sam but she soon realized she had more people in her corner than she realized. When they start working together to take down the group trying to take them out there was no way they wouldn’t win. It was just a matter of what the cost would be and if they could take down everyone or just the local small potatoes.
I really enjoyed this one. Sam was a strong character and I love those. The girls who keep going and don’t let the people who will do anything to keep them down win. I also really loved Drill. He was so great. The way this one ended really makes me want a second book. I wanted Sam to get more! It worked out great but not perfect, I want to know how the next year plays out.