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: 

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Review of Bellamy and the Brute by Alicia Michaels

Synopsis (from Amazon):

A fresh twist on a classic story, Bellamy and the Brute proves true love really is blind.

When Bellamy McGuire is offered a summer job babysitting for the wealthy Baldwin family, she’s reluctant to accept. After all, everyone in town knows about the mysterious happenings at the mansion on the hill―including the sudden disappearance of the Baldwin’s eldest son, Tate. The former football star and golden boy of Wellhollow Springs became a hermit at the age of sixteen, and no one has seen or heard from him since. Rumors abound as to why, with whisperings about a strange illness―one that causes deformity and turned him into a real-life monster. Bellamy wants to dismiss these rumors as gossip, but when she’s told that if she takes the job, she must promise to never, ever visit the third floor of the mansion, she begins to wonder if there really is some dark truth hidden there.

Tate’s condition may not be the only secret being kept at Baldwin House. There are gaps in the family’s financial history that don’t add up, and surprising connections with unscrupulous characters. At night there are strange noises, unexplained cold drafts, and the electricity cuts out. And then there are the rose petals on the staircase. The rose petals that no one but Bellamy seems to be able to see. The rose petals that form a trail leading right up to the 3 rd floor, past the portrait of a handsome young man, and down a dark hallway where she promised she would never, ever go…

As Bellamy works to unravel the mysteries of Baldwin House and uncover the truth about Tate, she realizes that she is in way over her head… in more ways than one. Can her bravery and determination help to right the wrongs of the past and free the young man whose story has captured her heart?

Review:
This story felt like it went on forever, and I never wanted to set it down. There are twists and turns everywhere, both supernatural and common teenage problems to see and deal with, and all of it very relatable. Bellamy’s father is known for being crazy, and people worry or laugh suggesting she’ll be the same, so already, Bellamy has to deal with being ostracized and belittled, even if just for being smart at times.

With supernatural uncertainties, Tate and Bellamy find themselves having to figure out a mystery, while also learning about each other and how to associate with someone physically disabled. All in all, I thought the situations, and their reactions to them, were very realistic, and the story was gripping and quite wonderful. I certainly recommend, especially to those who enjoy Beauty and the Beast.

Star Rating: 

Review of A Beauty for the Scarred Duke by Bridget Barton

Synopsis (from Amazon):

As young girls, Lady Isabella Tate, daughter of the Earl of Upperton, and her friend, Esme, told each other terrifying tales of the monster. But not just any monster. This monster was alive and living in his old mansion behind a tangle of overgrown hawthorn trees in the very same county. This monster was none other than Elliot Covington, the Duke of Coldwell.

The Duke of Coldwell, scarred for life in a fire which claimed the lives of those dearest to him has been hiding in his mansion for almost eighteen years. He knows he is a figure of fear and speculation in the county and chose many years before to live a life of self-imposed isolation. But he is the loneliest Duke in all of England. When the Earl of Upperton sells his daughter off as a bride for the disfigured Duke, Isabella has never been more terrified. Due to marry a man she has never met and always believed to be a monster, she truly believes her life is over.

But is life with the Duke really something to be afraid of? Will Isabella be able to get past her own prejudice and see the man beneath the scars? And will the Duke be able to let go of the pain and guilt that has swallowed him whole for almost two decades and find a new life with a new love?

Review:
While Isabella might be beautiful, she hadn’t experienced true caring, love, and compassion from her own parents (though her friend Esme is loyal and does care). When she meets the Duke, she wasn’t ready to see beyond appearances. As she gets to know him it seems that Coldwell isn’t as primitive and demanding as she’d thought he would be.

While she has to get used to being seen differently due to who she is with, Coldwell has to learn how to step out of the shadows, and deal with society once more after his long disappearance, which takes courage and love on both ends. Throughout the novel Coldwell shows more consideration and caring towards Isabella’s well being, future, and happiness, than her family ever did, showing Isabella what love could truly be like.

Star Rating: 

 

Review of Kind Ella and the Charming Duke by Bridget Barton

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Following the death of her beloved father, Ella Winfield is devastated when her mother, a woman with untamed social aspirations, hastily marries the Earl of Dandridge. He is a humorless man, and one whom Ella does not trust for a moment. Leaving her beloved Longton Manor behind, Ella is cast adrift in the large and unwelcoming Dandridge Hall, despite her desperate plea that her mother need not marry at all.

The Earl’s daughters, Lady Patience and Lady Georgiana, are spoiled and manner less young ladies, used to their own way in all things and fiercely competitive with one another. But when the Duke of Hillington is reported to be searching for a suitable bride, the tension between the sisters reaches new heights. With Ella’s simple beauty, intelligence, and fine manners, the Earl seeks to hide her away from the world and, more importantly, the Duke of Hillington himself.

When he determines that Ella not attend a masquerade ball to which the whole family has been invited, Ella takes it upon herself to attend in disguise and spy on the ambitious little family for her own amusement. When she finds herself in anonymous conversation with the Duke himself, she realizes that there is more to him than a man who would seek nothing more than a pretty bride with a large dowry. He is open and amusing and she finds herself quite captivated.

Rufus Darnley, the Duke of Hillington, cannot shake from his mind the curious and exciting young woman who appeared at his masquerade ball uninvited, and he can no longer find any enthusiasm for his search for a wife with whom he might provide an heir to the Duchy. When he finds the discarded mask of the mysterious woman who left the ball without a word, he holds on to the hope that he might one day discover her true identity.

As the Earl of Dandridge plots the most appalling schemes to keep the Duke interested in his own daughters, Ella Winfield must do what she can to stop the man she is fast becoming attracted to from being steered in the direction of either Lady Patience or Lady Georgiana, all without being discovered by the family who have, one by one, turned their backs upon her.

Review:
This book shows that kindness can go a long way, but so can cruelty. Part of what makes the Duke realize there is something about Ella is that she is so excluded from family life. In the end it is both Ella’s meek nature, but also her intelligence and curiosity that draw the Duke in. I found the book both shocking, sad, and heartbreaking at times. It was a book that really grasped me and pulled me in, and I quite enjoyed it.

Star Rating: 

Review of The Princess Search by Melanie Cellier

Synopsis (from Amazon):
An outcast.
A prince.
And a deadly rebellion…

After a lifetime of rejection, seamstress Evie can’t trust Frederic, the crown prince of Lanover–not his words of friendship or the way the warmth in his eyes seems to ask for even more. But when they end up on a tour of his kingdom–one filled with increasing danger–Evie’s mistrust might doom them all.

In this spin on the classic fairy tale, an ugly duckling must discover her true worth in order to save her kingdom and maybe even find true love.

Review:
This book truly shows that your past experiences will aid you in your future, and that the way you look at your life is just as important, if not moreso, than what you’ve gone through in the past. Although things hurt, experiencing pain is a part of life.

I quite loved how Evie, a seamstress who designed all sorts of clothes, ended up among a royal tour, getting to help the kingdom and teach the crown prince how to see beyond the obvious, and look for little details, reliving the life she had before, and realizing that getting out of it and being in a position to help isn’t something to be ashamed of– she should be proud of how she’d worked to elevate herself, and become something.

Star Rating: 

Review of Fractured Beauty by Adrienne Monson, Angela Corbett, Angela Brimhall, Lehua Parker

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Beauty and the Beast may be a tale as old as time, but in this collection by the Fairy Tale Ink you’ll meet five newly imagined Belles and the Beasts they love.

Angela Brimhall’s beast is a terrifying sea monster cursed by a scorned gypsy. He must risk all to save the strong-willed princess before losing his last chance at love and redemption, becoming forever damned to the briny deep.

Lehua Parker’s Nani is trapped by Indian and Hawaiian traditions and a fiancé locked in stasis in a medi-mod. Cultures and expectations collide in this sci-fi futuristic world where nano-bot tattoos and dreams reveal the secret of Nani’s heart.

Angela Corbett’s Ledger is determined to find out more about the mysterious woman who saved him from certain death and uncover the secrets of  Withering Woods, but some beasts are better left caged.

Adrienne Monson’s Arabella rushes to an enchanted castle to pay her father’s debt, but is met with a burly beast with a mysterious past. It’s a howling paranormal regency romp that will keep you turning pages well past your bedtime.

Review:
Brimhall’s– Quite enjoyed this story, the way that it twisted and curved, with everything twined together.

Parker’s- I loved this story. I didn’t necessarily think of it as Beauty and the Beast, but it was brilliant, unique, and I quite enjoyed it.

Corbett’s– It was an alright short story, but I didn’t quite see a big Beauty and the Beast theme, except for one character’s appearance. My least favourite of the stories.

Monson’s– I quite enjoyed the way she delivered an enchanted castle, and the way the romance developed. I also really enjoyed why Arabella’s father was sent away, and what it meant to and for her, and the Beast, ultimately.

All in all, an alright compilation, but most would have been better if allowed to shine on their own, without being considered a “Beauty and the Beast” novel.

Star Rating: 

Review of Spin by Genevieve Raas

Synopsis (from Amazon):
A necklace, a ring, a child…There is always a price one is willing to pay. 

Laila sees her impending death in the mountains of straw waiting to be spun into gold. Faced with the impossible, she makes the impossible decision to survive, no matter what the cost.
A shadowy stranger sees an opportunity for vengeance. 
Born to a nightmarish destiny that crushed and embittered his faith in humanity, he devotes himself to dealing in dark desires and desperate souls, and Laila’s is ripe for the trade.
When the stranger asks his price, Laila is bound by blood and magic to pay. 
His own heart was never supposed to be part of the deal, but when honor drives Laila to break their bargain, he ends up tangled in his own web of deceit and destruction in a desperate attempt to save her life. In the black of night, there are no fairytales, only choices.
One choice makes a queen. One choice consumes a soul. It’s a roll of the dice in a game where love is everyone’s undoing. 

Review:
I thought the way Laila and Rumpelstiltskin’s relationship developed was great, but I was vastly disappointed in the way he reacted, and in how this book ended. While it is the beginning of a series, I greatly disliked the middle to end of this book so much that I have no intention of reading the rest.

Star Rating: