BLOG TOUR: A Dangerous Year by Kes Trester was a feisty, fun teenage espionage novel!

A Dangerous Year (Riley Collins, #1)
Title: A Dangerous Year
Series: Riley Collins #1
Author: Kes Trester
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Espionage
Publication: 26th September 2017, Curiosity Quills
Pages: 255 Pages, Ebook
Rating: 4/5 cupcakes
Source: Thank you to Curiosity Quills and Sparkpoint Studio for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Seventeen-year-old Riley Collins has grown up in some of the world’s most dangerous cities, learning political strategies from her ambassador dad and defensive skills from his security chief. The only thing they didn’t prepare her for: life as an American teenager.After an incident forces her to leave her Pakistani home, Riley is recruited by the State Department to attend Harrington Academy, one of the most elite boarding schools in Connecticut. The catch: she must use her tactical skills to covertly keep an eye on Hayden Frasier, the daughter of a tech billionaire whose new code-breaking spyware has the international intelligence community in an uproar. Disturbing signs begin to appear that Riley’s assignment wasn’t the walk in the park she’d been promised. Now, Riley must fight for her life and Hayden’s, as those around her reveal themselves to be true friends or the ultimate betrayers. 

If you're looking for a book that is heart-stopping, fast-paced, filled with a cast of dynamic characters and outrageously need A Dangerous Year in your life. It's no secret that I adore espionage novels, especially ones where a teenage agent has to go undercover and disguise themselves as your typical high school teenager...and this book most definitely didn't disappoint. It had me gasping, laughing, swooning and biting my nails. A Dangerous Year kicked my adrenaline into gear and I loved every second of it.

A Dangerous Year is about Riley Collins. Daughter of an ambassador father and student of the defensive chief (and voluntary second father), Benson. After Riley rescues a girl from death in a bustling Pakistan market – and ends up injuring her attackers in the process – there's a price on her head and her potential demise is lurking in the cutthroat streets. After the incident, her father decides it's best to get her as far away from the danger as possible: he sends her to an elite, prestigious American high school...with a mission. What is that mission, exactly? To keep an eye on, and protect, Hayden Frasier, daughter of a billionaire whose software program is racking up a large mass of enemies. It should be fairly easy, right? However, as Riley navigates her new school, she soon finds that not everyone is who they first appear to be. Throw into the mix towering piles of homework, dreaded equestrian lessons and two boys vying for her attention, Riley has her work cut out for her. Shots will be fired, hearts will be broken and trust will be killed.

Okay so, I loved this book and I had an incredibly fun time reading it. Why don't I provide you with a list of all the things I loved about this book, because who doesn't like lists?

1) The Plot
As I said, if you mention teen espionage stories, I am there. I absolutely loved this book's storyline. An ambassador's daughter who has lived in several countries but never truly belonged, who has been trained in various martial arts and is incredibly smart, who then has to slot into life as your typical rich American teenager whilst trying to keep a billionaire's daughter alive. I'M SOLD. I adored all the spy elements that were included in this book. The software, the weapons, the gadgets – it's YA version of Kim Possible and I loved it. There were plot twists that had my jaw slack, there were moments where my heart was racing and I was practically biting my fingernails and there were moments where this read as your typical high school drama, complete with backstabbing, complicated love triangles and all the other obstacles high school throws at you. I loved how this book balanced Riley's double lives. Both aspects were incredibly interesting and her agent life, as well as her regular teenage life, were done superbly. ALSO, CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT ENDING? I was clicking my kindle's button furiously, praying that that wasn't how it ended...but it was. Can I get the next one now? Pretty please? A Dangerous Year was intriguing, it was absorbing and it was fast-paced – what more could you want?

2) The characters
I LOVED THE CHARACTERS. I adored Riley. She's clever (I love it when books feature smart girls, we need more girls interested in tech in YA!), she's incredibly sassy, she's a chess champion, she's kind and brave but there's also something so likable and relatable about her. Perhaps it's the fact that she prefers reading a book and sitting on the couch stuffing her face with oreos on a Friday night than going out. Me too, girl, me too. I also love that she's not afraid to show the guys who's boss, she's not afraid to challenge them to wrestling matches (this girl's strength makes me want to hit the gym as soon as possible) and she's not afraid to challenge those in authority, if their motives begin to appear sinister. I absolutely loved Riley and I can definitely see her becoming one of my favourite protagonists!

I loved the other characters, too. There is Riley's dad who is kind, caring and offers the best advice and then there's Benson, who is the most precious, intimidating cinnamon roll ever. I know intimidating and cinnamon roll probably shouldn't be used in the same sentence, but if you read the book, I think you'll get where I'm coming from. Man, I really love Benson. He's probably my favourite character in the book. He's wise, he's hilarious, he's somewhat intimidating but he also has this sensitive, soft side that just made me love him even more. I absolutely adored the banter between the three, the wise words of wisdom they exchanged, the love and compassion and the brilliant family dynamics between the three of them. YAY FOR CLOSE FAMILIES IN YA BOOKS!

Then there are the other characters that were featured heavily in A Dangerous Year: Von, Stef, Sam and Hayden. I loved all of them. Stef quickly takes Riley under his wing in her first week of attending the academy, introducing her to the Harrington students' way of living. He's gay, has a flair for the dramatic, impeccable fashion sense and also a tendency to drown his sorrows in alcohol as the demons set loose by his wealthy, careless family dance with him. There's Hayden, who at first glance seems shallow, vain and unkind but who later reveals herself to be a lost girl with high, impenetrable walls, built from years of the betrayal and mistrust she's had to face. Then there are Von and Stef, the two love interests. DON'T GROAN about the love triangle, they're both adorable and hilarious. There's not just one guy for you to add to your book boyfriend list – but two! I loved all four these characters. By the end of the book, they all seemed quite different to how they were first introduced. I like that the author took time to peel back their layers and reveal their inner selves to the reader. 

3) The romance
The romance was subtle and it didn't feature that heavily in the book, which I know a lot of people will like. There was blatant flirting, banter that had me giggling and there were scenes where the chemistry was utterly sizzling between Riley and the boys. I loved her and Von's ease with one another but I loved watching the firework display of sparks that exploded between her and Sam...but I think I might ship her more with Von? I DON'T ACTUALLY KNOW. I LOVE THEM BOTH. I hope there will be more romance featured in the next book. I'm so ready for it.

4) The pace, the plot twists and the setting
As I mentioned earlier, the pace of this book was fantastic. You know you get those books that move super slowly or books that move so fast you feel as if you're caught in a whirlwind of activity and not in a good way? A Dangerous Year was perfectly paced. There were moments of relaxed ease as Riley settled into her surroundings, only for us to be catapulted into deadly car races and heart-stopping discoveries. I loved how the author managed the pace of this book. It was steady with charged moments of lightning-fast pace, which added a new level of thrilling to the book. I also adored the plot twists and I'm so excited to see where the author takes the characters in the next book. Like I mentioned above, after that ending, I desperately need the sequel. I also LOVED the setting. Rich boarding schools with plenty of secrets and rooms/closets filled with spy tech. THIS IS ALL I EVER WANTED

5) The dialogue
Oh, the dialogue in this book is brilliant. The flirty banter is absolutely brilliant and I whispered to myself “I ship it” more times than once due to the brilliant interaction between the characters. There were serious dialogues, wise dialogues and utterly hilarious dialogues and I loved every one of them. It felt natural and authentic and it made me love this book even more!

A Dangerous Year was utterly exhilarating and I tore through it. It's fast-paced, it has heart-stopping moments that caused adrenaline to course through my body, plot twists that caused me to slap my hand to my mouth, hilarious dialogue and a fantastic cast of characters that are so strong but simultaneously beautifully broken. It takes the elements of a high school teen drama and elements of a high-chase espionage movie and combines them to form the exhilarating and brilliantly fun A Dangerous Year. You don't want to miss this.

I give it: 4/5 cupcakes!