Review of Devastation: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling by M. J. Haag

Devastation: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling (A Beastly Tale Book 3) by [M.J. Haag, Ulva Eldrige]

Synopsis:
Everything has changed…

Abused and rejected, Benella strives to regain a purpose for her life that does not involve the beast.  However, when her father loses his employment, she finds herself returning to the last place she ever wanted to see.

A beast no more…

Alec, Lord of the North, is a man once more, a man Benella doesn’t know or understand.  As she struggles to reconcile the cold, distant man with the beast she once knew, she must also learn when it is right to forgive and when it is time to move on. 

Review:
This book really put so much into perspective of how Benella felt about relationships and trust between people. There were multiple times one had to stop and wonder why she kept doing the same stupid thing without thinking, but then, people are not always wary all the time. Seeing Alec as a man as he attempts to understand and work with Benella is quite nice, especially when he slips and she is reminded of their time alone. Of course I wouldn’t wish bad things on our main character, but it did seem like there was a lot of almosts that set her mind on a course that could have made a very different end. I realized as I neared the end, constantly worried that the happily ever after wouldn’t happen, that Benella was quite a believable character, with real concerns even if the reader (omnipresent as one is) knew shouldn’t have worried. There were times she misplaced care for possession, though I couldn’t truly blame her as she hadn’t been looked after for most of her life. Many things in life could be far more easily understood if we looked from both perspectives, our own and others, after all.

There were two great quotes that I will share from this final book in the Beastly tales.

“My mother once told me time changed everything. In that moment, I realized what she meant. Nothing ever stayed the same.”

“Her search for material wealth and social standing wouldn’t bring her happiness. Happiness wasn’t so easily obtained. It took kindness and some true sacrifice, neither concept truly understood by my sister.”

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Deceit: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling by M. J. Haag

Deceit: A Beauty and the Beast Retelling (A Beastly Tale Book 2) by [M.J. Haag, Ulva Eldrige]

Synopsis:
Only Beauty can tame the Beast.

Safely hidden within the estate’s enchanted walls, Benella no longer has time to fear her tormentors. She’s too preoccupied attempting to determine what makes the beast so beastly. It might be the taxing visits from the aged enchantress who cursed him or his growing vexation at not being allowed to touch Benella.

In order to gain her freedom, she must find a way to break the curse, but first, she must help him become a better man while protecting her heart.

Review:
The world grew and it became larger and more coloured and I thought that Benella had truly touched the beast. I thought that despite her sisters and how horrible they were that she would turn out not differently in part because she was so sensible. We had so much more added to both knowledge of how Benella grew up to also the people who had been around the Beast and how he cared for them. The ending… how, how could he just do that?! I need to read the third book, immediately! One star off for the end!

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Depravity: A Beauty and the Beast Novel by M. J. Haag

Depravity: A Beauty and the Beast Novel (A Beastly Tale Book 1) by [M.J. Haag, Ulva Eldridge, Allisyn Ma]

Synopsis:
Seductively dark. Deliciously beastly.

Benella is concerned with two things–avoiding the two village boys who torment her and scrounging for food to help feed her family. Unfortunately, the best wild fruit and vegetables are near the walls of the estate, a dark misty place inhabited by an unforgiving beast.

When her tormentors lock her behind the massive gates, Benella knows her fate is sealed. Yet, the fate isn’t one she expects. Her encounter with the beast starts a bizarre cycle of bargaining for her freedom, a freedom the beast seems determined to see her lose.

Review:
I quite enjoyed this beginning of Beauty and the Beast’s tale by M. J. Haag. There wasn’t too much spice, but it set a very good scene for what Benella’s life was like, as well as how the Beast acted. Opening scene with the baker left a very lasting impression in my mind thought part of me wonders why Sara would be upset about the particular change in price since it seemed more beneficial to her. I found it very interesting that he was so kind and careful with her for so long. The duality of how she is treated depending on what she wears is not lost. I quite look forward to seeing how the story continues to unfold.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

Synopsis:
Kingdoms will clash. Choose your side.

The incredible conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.

Face your fears, fight the battle.
Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone–even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace.

Fight the battle, save the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and a magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.

As the two kingdoms come closer to conflict, loyalties are tested, love is threatened, and an old enemy resurfaces who could destroy them all, in this stunning conclusion to bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.

Review:
I waited and waited for the two factions to end up together and honestly I was not disappointed when they were together. However, when the parties were separate, it really seemed like Harper and Rhen left any sort of real connection for most of the book. When they finally came back together, their spark was undeniable, but it remained very obvious that Harper never really found a purpose in Emberfall, though she originally tried to help out in previous books. Jake finally found a purpose, which was great to see, but, Harper really failed quite a bit and really played the part of “uncertain little sister” in this book. The men were great, grew, had good arcs. The women, however, seemed to grow less certain of themselves. Harper’s spark was seen when she fled the castle, but Lia Mara never truly seemed to become fully confident in herself.

While I loved the last chapter and where it seemed to be going I felt like we dropped off with part of the story left untold. Harper still had no real “end” and while we can assume Noah and Jake are together we don’t know where they are staying or what they plan to do. It feels like there should be another book to tie up loose ends, which is to say, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one set 16 years in the future or so…

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (The Cursebreaker Series Book 1) by [Brigid Kemmerer]

Synopsis:
In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

Review:
Firstly, I love that this book featured a character with disabilities. It was a fun take on what made the heroine less capable and have to work harder to manage her goals. That being said, there were several times, especially towards the end, where this condition didn’t seem to make a difference and there was no mention of it. Overall, it was a great addition and way to explain both Harper’s knowledge of skills many no longer have (without giving it away) as well as her tenacity to keep trying, even knowing that she may not be as good as others.

Rhen truly grows, but there is a lot of intensity between Grey and Harper, so it becomes hard to tell who is truly starting to care for whom. While that can be interesting, in many ways, all three characters seem to grow and resonate at the same time with each other and it becomes an interesting take on understanding what the other is going through.

This is a great epic fantasy and I would definitely recommend it. It does a great job of pulling you in and making you want to see what happens next. The only thing I didn’t particularly like was the ending, however, I hadn’t realized it was the beginning of a trilogy before I started writing this.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Trial By Magic by K. M. Shea

Trial of Magic (The Fairy Tale Enchantress Book 4) by [K. M. Shea]

Synopsis:
Lord Enchanter Evariste has been missing for years. Everyone has given up all hope of finding him—except for Angelique.

Because he dared to befriend her when all other mages scorned her due to her dangerous magic, Angelique is determined to find him—no matter the cost. But as years have passed and she has failed to locate Evariste, she’s forced to realize that he was more than a friend.

Battle weary and sick of politics, Angelique is close to breaking…until she hears a rumor that Evariste was taken north.

To confirm the information, she’ll have to break into a den of black mages, hide her identity, and master her magic—which she fears above all else.

But when she finally finds Evariste, she learns she is woefully unprepared for the enemies that hold him captive.

Trial of Magic is an epic fantasy fairy tale that follows a reluctant heroine who wants nothing to do with romance, magical battles, and curse breaking, but finds herself mucking with all three. Like its companion series, Timeless Fairy Tales, this series has clean romance.

Review:
Worth the wait! Was definitely bummed when I read the first three books in quick succession with plans to read the entire series because I couldn’t get enough of Angelique and Evariste and came to find out only three books were done! I was so excited to see Angelique grow as a person, and learn more about fairy tale enchanters and how the aging process works. It was also awesome to have so many badass heroines that weren’t simply having children as soon as they were married.

There were still so many questions and so much left to lose (and gain) at the end of this book! I found myself reading slower and less towards the end because of course I don’t want it to end and have to wait for more, but this was a very substantial book, considered epic fantasy for a reason. I cannot wait to see more of Angelique and Evariste and what happens in the continent, though I’m also hoping to learn far more about Pegasus as well!

**Potential Spoiler!**
Given Evariste’s reaction my prediction is that he might be more human/powerful than Angelique knows, though I am fairly certain he can actually talk.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Beauty and the Beast: Steampunk Beauty and the Beast by Melanie Karsak

Beauty and Beastly: Steampunk Beauty and the Beast (Steampunk Fairy Tales Book 3) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
In this tale as old as time, Isabelle Hawking must tinker a solution to a heartbreaking mystery.

When Isabelle Hawking and her papa set out from London on a sea voyage, Isabelle is thrilled. Visiting foreign courts, learning from master tinkerers, and studying mechanicals is her dream. And it doesn’t hurt that the trip also offers Isabelle an escape from her overbearing and unwanted suitor, Gerard LeBoeuf.

But Isabelle never arrives. Swept up in a tempest, her ship is lost.

Isabelle survives the storm only to be shipwrecked on a seemingly deserted island. The magical place, dotted with standing stones, faerie mounds, and a crumbling castle, hints of an ancient past. Isabelle may be an unwilling guest, but her arrival marks a new beginning for the beastly residents of this forgotten land.

See how New York Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak puts a steampunk spin on the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale set in gaslamp London.

Review:
Of all the steampunk style stories I have read this is one of my absolute favourites. It has everything amazing and right going for it: we have a spunky, intelligent heroine, we have the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, we have faeries, and we have incredibly well designed tech that doesn’t quite make sense, for good reason. I loved so much about this, the redemption of the characters and how they grew with time, even those that we really didn’t like or expect to see again. Everyone and everything had a purpose, and the story was quite endearing. I often ended up into the late hours of the night wanting to read more, but too tired to do so. If you like steampunk, you like fairy tales, and you love Beauty and the Beast– this will become a clear favourite.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Enchantment by Camille Peters

Enchantment (The Kingdom Chronicles Book 5) by [Camille Peters]

Synopsis:
When Maren runs away from the threat of a forced marriage, the last place she expects to end up is the Malvagarian Palace, home to the enchanted gardens, a cursed prince, and a magical rose that traps her there. Crown Prince Briar isn’t pleased to be stuck with a troublesome guest, especially one as mischievous and curious as Maren. She, on the other hand, is determined to escape, but instead finds herself inconveniently falling in love with him. Despite her lack of beauty, feelings steadily blossom between her and the prince.

Their budding romance is soon threatened when sinister magic begins to eclipse the enchanted gardens, a darkness which quickly spreads not only to the kingdom, but to the king himself. In order to stop it, Briar and Maren will both be forced to make a heart-wrenching sacrifice, only to realize that the gardens’ requirements may prove too high a price.

Inspired by Beauty and the Beast

Review:
So as we all know, I’m a sucker for enchanted roses. I’d been wondering and wondering where Briar would fall in this series, torn between the Beast and some odd hybrid of Sleeping Beauty, but my first inclination was correct. I was so glad to see that back home Briar has a slightly different demeanor and personality, as he was rather drained and unpleasant in Reflection. Maren, however, I wasn’t sure I would like. From the beginning, her self esteem issues were a bit annoying, though understandable given her father never showed her love. It was frustrating that despite constantly saying that she was used to it her actions proved that she cared far too much about other’s opinions on her “beauty” or lack thereof. Despite this, I quite enjoyed her quips and how prepared she always was to get into both mischief and not let others tell her falsehoods. I could resonate quite soundly with doing all sorts of things like Maren, however, my interests were always nourished and encouraged by family, and when others would make me doubt myself, it generally made me even more determined to become better at whatever it was.

I love the personification of the garden, and quite enjoy how Maren and Briar dance around each other. While originally hard to really understand Briar, Maren’s good nature prevails and his character is revealed in how he deals with tragedy as well as his own issues with self doubt. I also loved the background characters of Maren’s childhood, and how completely dastardly the men in her life reveal themselves to be.

I was so glad to see Prince Drake and Prince Rhea again but we were left with a lot of baggage regarding them that was never resolved. I do hope to see them and a resolution in a future book, though I’m not sure we’d see them in the next book about Seren (Aiden’s sister from the first book in the series, Pathways). Seren was almost as nasty as Lavena in this book, so while I originally thought the next book would be about Princess Lavena (featured in Identity) it is unsurprising to know that the King Thrushbeard story will fall to Seren.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Thorn of Rose: A Beauty and the Beast Romance by Emily Deady

Thorn of Rose: A Beauty and the Beast Romance (Fairy Tale Royals Book 2) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
Beauty is a curse.

It attracts the basest sort of men, even a beast.

With her father deathly ill, Isabel Bielsa throws herself into their mutual passion: bookbinding. Hiding in the library also allows her to avoid the unwanted attentions of the local self-absorbed noblemen. But, there is only so many times one can read the same book. When the governing council demands her father’s skills she happily goes in his stead. 

However, her new library assignment is far from private. Prince Aden of Iseldis, cursed into the form of a beast, keeps interrupting her work. With his idealistic standards and comfortable self-righteousness, she sees him as just another man besotted by her beauty. That is, until Isabel discovers that his curse has also affected his eyesight. 

As her feelings for him grow, Isabel nears the end of her assignment. Can she break Aden’s curse before the magical attacker comes back to finish him off for good?

Thorn of Rose is a fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It is a sequel to Shard of Glass, but can be read out of order. If you love sweet romance, a little bit of magic, and a self-assured heroine, than this story was written for you.

Review:
Both Isabel and Aden have strong ideals and personalities, which make them clash and have to actually work to get to know each other–something that likely could have and would have happened even without his curse. Isabel is very opinionated and used to dealing with people thinking she is stupid (something any reasonably attractive female is unfortunately well acquainted with, I fear) and perhaps because of that can be rather brash and cruel, assuming all men are the same because most she has come to know have been. Aden is both brash but quite emotional and carrying, and his relationship with Warrior and dedication to keeping people safe is sweet.

I absolutely love this take on Beauty and the Beast, because while some versions (Disney) claim she’s a beauty but don’t necessarily show it beyond one annoying suitor, this not only shows why she would be so annoyed with men in general, but also gave her a depth and level of intelligence other versions lack. There were always high stakes, and the story flowed very well, and was hard to put down. I absolutely loved the integration of her love of books and how connected she is to her father through her love of reading and the written word.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Enchant: Beauty and the Beast Retold by Demelza Carlton

Synopsis (from Amazon):
A beastly prince. An enchanting beauty. Only love can break the spell.
Once upon a time…
The wicked King Thorn forced the enchantress Zuleika to cast a terrible curse. She fled his court to travel the world, helping those who need her magic most. Until a search for her merchant father’s lost ships leads her to an enchanted island, where Prince Vardan, the island’s ruler, is afflicted by the most powerful curse Zuleika has ever encountered. She’s not sure she can reverse the spell, but she’s determined to try. After all, a prince who fights pirates can’t be all bad…no matter how beastly his appearance.
Together, can the enchanting beauty and the beastly prince break the spell?

Review:
I loved this take on Beauty and the Beast. The premise was unique and refreshing. I did have some issues with the heroine’s name, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book. I quite liked Zuleika’s growth and humility throughout the novel, as well as Vardan’s, however, instead of speaking and troubleshooting feelings and emotions verbally, Vardan brushes off Zuleika’s issues and essentially says “It’ll be great because I’m great.”

Unlike most versions of the story, Zuleika knows from the beginning that Vardan is cursed, so instead of being railroaded to liking him and spending time with him by his servants, she understands and wants to help. What irritated me was how long it took Zuleika to realize what had happened to Vardan, considering how intelligent and knowing in magic she is supposed to be by the time she meets him.

Most Amazon reviews seem to have a problem with the sexual mindset of the male protagonist, as well as the sexual parts of the story. I had downloaded this book knowing it was a fairy tale retelling, and that it had been on my list of ones I wanted to eventually read, picking it at random to read from the titles on my kindle. While it is a fairy tale retelling, it likely should be listed under romance first. Though not as carnal as Lidya Foxglove’s Fairy Tale Heat, with only a few instances, there is still a sexual mindset that if one isn’t expecting, might be found irritating.

**WARNING** BOOK BEGINS WITH GRAPHIC (SEXUAL) VIOLENCE

Star Rating: