One For All by Lillie Lainoff
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Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone in town thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl”; even her mother is desperate to marry her off for security. But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father—a former Musketeer and her greatest champion.
Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for a new kind of Musketeer: women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a swordfight.
With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels for the first time like she has a purpose, like she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her first target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming, and breathlessly attractive—and he might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to lean on her friends, listen to her own body, and decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted. And is it a betrayal to find her own place in the world?
DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Tania de Batz and her sword come as one.
She is most herself with a blade in hand, even if it’s considered improper for a girl to fence. Doubly so even if it’s improper for a sick girl to fence. Day in and day out, she applies herself to her father’s beloved art, even when her constant dizziness heightens the challenge.
And when her father is murdered, she refuses to sit idly by and hope someone delivers justice.
What begins as an opportunity to get close to the Musketeers and plead her case becomes something out of Tania’s wildest dreams: as a student of L’Académie des Mariées, she practices flirting and fencing alike, becoming her own kind of Musketeer alongside three other girls, even as the world believes her to be attending finishing school in hopes of securing a husband. Here, she may become something she has always wanted to be: a Musketeer in her own right.
But her missions for L’Académie des Mariées are not simple, and when Tania starts to follow the trail of one conspiracy, her father’s murder looms ever larger. Will searching for the truth bring her the peace and justice she craves, or will it destroy her life as she’s finally come to love it?
Tania de Batz is every ounce a Musketeer, and I love her for it.
Despite any and every obstacle in her way, she commits herself in full to whatever she focuses on. Her fencing skills, lovingly passed down by her father, are at her very heart, an art she will never allow to fade. Solving her father’s murder soon occupies the same corner of her heart, even if it means traveling all the way to Paris on the threads of a plan. And once she meets the other girls “studying” at L’Académie des Mariées, she tucks them into this special place of devotion too.
As much as I love a good reluctant hero, or a hero who doesn’t quite know what they’re doing, there’s something refreshing in the way Tania leans in. She knows what she wants, and even if she doesn’t have all the details, she has at least half a plan on how to get it. Her drive and dedication is remarkably steady, and it makes her reliable in a way that’s impossible to resist. She’s one of those characters I feel like most people would feel immensely glad to have as a friend, a character many readers will root for without a second thought.
Especially delightful is the way she builds her friendships with the other girls of L’Académie. Though she begins her arc wary of them, she learns how to best communicate with each, and how deeply she can rely on them. I’m especially fond of the scenes between her and Théa; when they’re working together, there’s an intensity to their interactions, and a bright one at that. Sure, all of the girls are capable of great focus, but when Tania and Théa share the limelight, everything feels more enthusiastic. More hopeful, even. And you all should know by now that I’m a sucker for hope.
“When a king is overthrown, he is never the first to die.”
I would be remiss not to mention Tania’s dizziness. Though not named as such directly in the story, she has POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). This condition affects blood flow, and presents itself through symptoms like dizziness or even fainting, often when standing up or leaning too far over. Throughout One For All, POTS shapes Tania’s life, her approach to fencing, and her relationships with the people around her. There is absolutely no separating it from her lived experiences, and though it isn’t helpful to her, it’s nonetheless an integral part of her existence.
It’s also the reason Tania is so true to her mission to prevent an uprising. An assassination attempt will not only affect the king. Instead, it will ripple out onto those without the means to defend themselves, like the people living in the Cour des Miracles, a Paris slum mostly inhabited by the poor and disabled. Tania understands better than most of the others at L’Académie what it’s like to be cast aside and mistreated for her disability. Keeping the king alive is not just about solving her father’s murder, or proving her own capabilities despite the disadvantages POTS presents. It’s about protecting other vulnerable people from greater harm, and finding an avenue that might give them more power to protect themselves in the future.
I hope you read One For All as soon as you possibly can.
It has action and court intrigue all bundled up in a rich, multi-faceted Parisian setting. The dresses are immaculate, the blades never far from being drawn, and the characters brimming with life and drive in ways that are difficult to articulate without detailing every inch of their arcs.
Do yourself a favor, and read One For All. Tania de Batz is everything a Musketeer should be and more, and her story deserves to be in as many hands as possible! ⚔️
CW: ableism, loss of a loved one, gore, violence, implied sexual assault, child death mention
1 thought on “One For All by Lillie Lainoff”
Oooh. yes, this one is on my wishlist too!! Yay!!