Character Spotlight: Dina Sleiman’s Lady Merry Ellison…with a giveaway

DauntlessMeet an acrobatic outlaw in

Dina Sleiman’s



Bethany House


The Story

Where Legend and History Collide, 

One Young Woman Will Fight for the Innocent

Born a baron’s daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now an enemy of the throne after her father’s failed assassination attempt upon the king. Bold and uniquely skilled, she is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village–a group that becomes known as “The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest.” Merry finds her charge more difficult as their growing notoriety brings increasing trouble their way.

Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, he’s forced to reexamine everything he’s known.

Introducing Merry!

Brief physical description

Lady Merry Ellison is a tiny, striking brunette who has cut her hair to chin length and dresses in boy’s tunics and leggings. She is the tough and strong leader of a band of outlaws in a forest of England during 1216. Picture a feisty little gymnast meets Robin Hood.


I would say she resembles Kacy Catanzaro, who took the American Ninja Warrior contest by storm this year and went farther than any other female ever has.

Strengths and weaknesses

Merry is physically strong, excellent at acrobatics, stealthy, and she’s also an excellent leader. Her main weakness is that her heart has grown hard due to all the tragedy surrounding her in the realm of the evil King John—Prince John of the Robin Hood stories. She has lost her faith in God and in others, and she thinks she has to do everything in her own strength.

Quirk (if any)


Credit: Disney Princess of Thieves

I’m pretty sure Merry would say she can’t afford to have a “quirk,” although there are plenty of quirky characters around her. But Merry does have a hidden softer side that always comes out when she is around little Wren, a toddler she helped rescue when her village was destroyed two years earlier. Wren reminds her that if matters had gone differently, Merry might have been wed to her childhood sweetheart and a mother to her own child. She always brings to mind thoughts of home and hearth.

Your inspiration for the character

I was inspired by two Robin Hood type heroines. Keira Knightley played Robin Hood’s tough and determined daughter in Disney’s Princess of Thieves. She often came to mind as I was writing the book. In fact, my original description for Merry was basically Keira Knightley, but I later tweaked that description to better match the model on the cover. The other character is the spunky Maid Marian of the BBC Robin Hood. She is a thief and crusader for the poor in her own right. That’s where I got the idea to give Merry acrobatic skills.

Background to the story

Years ago an editor suggested that I try writing a YA medieval romance. I was certainly open t0 this idea, but I didn’t have any clear direction. It wasn’t until I was in the midst of watching the BBC Robin Hood series with my son that a concept finally sparked to life in my mind. The series featured a number of strong, feisty women. Maid Marian, as I mentioned. The Saracen character, Djaq, was also a woman—not to mention plenty of tough female bad guys. One day as I was walking and praying specifically about a YA medieval series, this new Robin Hood came to mind, the ideas started flowing, and before long Dauntless was playing like a movie in my mind. Thus my Valiant Hearts series, featuring strong young medieval women in legendary male roles, was born.

Thanks Dina!

Relz Reviewz Extras
Enter the Dauntless ‘Join the Adventure’ Giveaway
Visit Dina’s website and blog
Buy at Amazon: Dauntless (Valiant Hearts) or Koorong

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31 Responses to Character Spotlight: Dina Sleiman’s Lady Merry Ellison…with a giveaway

  1. Robin Hood is actually my favorite outlaw! I love that he has a heart for the poor and that he is a genuine character. Ever since I saw the movie “Robin Hood” starring Errol Flynn I have fell in love with this story!

  2. I like Ted Dekker’s view of an outlaw! We are outlaws.

  3. Robin Hood

  4. Robin Hood is #1! : )

  5. I LOVE Robin Hood. Always have. So any stories in that vein are a must. :)

    Great post.

  6. Robin hood

  7. Robin Hood!

  8. Robin Hood!

  9. I guess you all figured out that I love a good Robin Hood character too! Thanks for having me, Rel :)

  10. I really don’t have a favorite outlaw.

  11. Not sure if he is technically an outlaw, but I would have to say “Beast” from Beauty and the Beast. He tugs at my heart strings and I’m rooting for him. :-) Looking forward to the motion picture, but not sure how I feel about Daniel Radcliffe playing him. :-(

  12. I love Robin Hood and can’t wait to read DAUNTLESS!!

  13. I have always loved Robin Hood and His desire to help those who needed help. I am Anxious to read Dina’s book.

  14. I guess outlaws are a matter of perspective, but I do believe the Scarlet Pimpernel qualifies as one in France at the very least, even if not exactly in England. I’ve been in love since a friend introduced us back in 11th grade.

  15. I would have to say Robin Hood, because he is an outlaw for all the “right” reasons. I loved Maid Marian in the BBC Robin Hood. I am really looking forward to reading this one! Thanks for the giveaway!

  16. I can’t think of a favorite outlaw. I loved the response with the Ted Dekker quote. I will say, this book sounds super.

  17. Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games. Another tough beauty with a wicked bow arm!

  18. I have to agree with the majority – Robin Hood :)

  19. Robin Hood has yet to be dethroned as a favorite, especially after the movie Prince of Thieves. With Bryan Adams singing (Everything I Do, I Do It For You)” how can a girl resist? :)

  20. Errol Flynn was a fun Robin Hood, so I guess he would be my favorite outlaw.

  21. Han Solo and Chewbacca ~ Star Wars is a family movie night favorite.

  22. Robin Hood

  23. Robin Hood is my favorite outlaw. My dad was the one who introduce me to the legend with Prince of thieves movie and I’ve been hooked ever sense.

  24. Jennifer Bretsch

    “Dauntless” sounds so wonderful I can’t wait to read it. I’m not sure if I have a favorite outlaw, but Robin Hood would certainly be a top pick. Also Zorro comes to mind, if he’s really considered an outlaw.

  25. Robin Hood or the hero from Princess Bride. :)

  26. Favorite outlaw? Oh dear. Does Han Solo count? haha. I do love Robin Hood, though. And The Scarlet Pimpernel, as someone else mentioned. And Flynn Rider, too, if you go the Disney route.

  27. I think my favorite is pirate Captain Bruce Hawkins of Linda Chaikin’s Trade Winds series. Thanks so much for this giveaway!

  28. I really wanted to be original but I too am a Robin Hood fan, my brothers and I as kids watched the animated version- Robin was a fox Little John a bear, and then we advanced to Robin Hood Prince of Thieves as we got older. We could quote both of these from start to finish :).

  29. There are so many good ones… I have thing for outlaws.

    But, favorite? Definitely Kissing Kate Barlow, from “Holes.” I grew up with that movie and shipped her and Sam so hard. I still can’t watch it without crying and her character development from schoolteacher to bandit breaks my heart every time. In a good way. So. Perfect. <3 <3 <3

  30. My sister and I just started watching the BBC Robin Hood series, we love the medieval action. However, I will have to say my favorite outlaw is Gwyn from The Princess of Thieves, I love how she has a strong and quick mind and that she is as good a marksman as her father. I am very excited about this book! :)

  31. Deanne Patterson

    My favorite outlaw is Jesse James. I enjoy reading about outlaws from the 1800’s. I even named my son Jesse James. This book really sounds great. She sounds like such a strong character. I would love to read this ! Thank you for the giveaway opportunity !

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