About the Book:
Title: Rising Shadows (Rising Shadows #1)
Author: Ashley Townsend
Pub. Date: June 16, 2012
Publisher: Kirkdale Press
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Sarah Matthews is nearing the end of another eventless summer in the small town of Bethany, Oklahoma, bringing her closer to the start of her freshman year of college. Disheartened over the reality that yet another unexciting season is coming to an end, Sarah wishes for an unforgettable adventure. When mysterious circumstances transport Sarah and her younger sister back in time, she gets more of an adventure than she could have ever imagined. The two sisters find themselves trapped in the twelfth century in a place shrouded with mystery and deception. Assassination plots, kidnappings, and tumultuous adventures force Sarah to rely on the Shadow, a masked hero who comes to her aid numerous times. In order to uncover a conspiracy and save those closest to her, Sarah requests help from the Shadow and also from Will, the handsome and equally intriguing blacksmith she befriends. Sarah is strangely drawn to the excitement that seems to follow the town hero and begins to look forward to their secret encounters. She also finds herself caught in a romance with Will, despite the fact that their equally fiery personalities have a tendency to clash as they attempt to work together. But Will’s past is filled with secrets and pains, and Sarah finds it difficult to break through the walls he has built around him.
I would like to start this review off with a HUGE thank you to Ashley Townsend for sending me a copy of the first and second novels in this series in exchange for an honest review. This novel has been on my TBR shelf for a bit, and it always intrigued me. Very few authors can pull off time travel well, and when you mix it with fantasy...well you can get into a bit of a sticky situation. But this novel simply blew me away! I couldn't stop reading it! This novel is an exciting, epic adventure full of romance, medieval times, and a plot against the king. Plus, there's a gorgeous, swoonworthy hero. Seriously, you can't ask for a better combination in a book!
We first meet Sarah, our MC, in the 21st century. All she wants is one adventure in her life before she gives herself to books and studying at college. Well, Sarah certainly gets what she wishes for when she's quickly transported back in time to the 1200s. The crazy adventures only begin there. Sarah was a very enjoyable female lead. She was strong, brave, and wasn't afraid to speak her mind. I absolutely loved this about her, and it made the story refreshing. Sarah is definitely an extremely relatable character, and the one thing that I did enjoy about her was her strength in regards to her faith. Her faith never once wavers in this novel, and while her Christianity plays a large role in the story, it never overshadows the plot. Ashley Townsend incorporates Sarah's religion in a simple, but enjoyable way. Being Christian myself, I did appreciate seeing this in a main character as it's not something you typically see in books nowadays.
Will, aka the swoonworthy blacksmith, had my heart immediately. I seriously ship Sarah and Will so hard right now it's not even funny haha! He was mysterious, protective, and such a gentleman. I loved his sweet nature. The romance between Sarah and Will builds slowly (hallelujah no insta-love!!), and what starts out as a lovely friendship turns into something much more. Their budding romance is sweet and clean, which was also refreshing. Sometimes a girl needs a little break from NA.
The secondary characters were equally as amazing. I loved that Ashley never just pushed them to the background. They all had a role to play. Whether it was helping out Sarah in times of need, or just helping Sarah grow. Karen is wonderful character in this novel. She helps out Sarah in any way she can, especially since she's responsible for Sarah being there in the first place. Karen was fun and I loved her tenacity. Seth and his family were great additions to the story. While he did have budding feelings for Sarah, I never felt he would be a good match for her. He was a little annoying at times, but I liked how protective he was of both Sarah and Karen. There's also the interesting character of The Shadow. I won't say much on him, but he's definitely a Robin Hood of sorts.
I highly recommend checking out this exciting fantasy novel! Ashley Townsend has a wonderful talent for writing that immediately draws you into another world...one you are very sad to leave. This novel was a fantastic and romantic adventure that has a little bit of everything. With suspense, some exciting twists, and intrigue, I can't wait to find out what happens next in Chasing Shadows!